The research shows we can help.
A research and evaluation study process typically tries to control as many variables as possible to produce valid results that may be replicated later. Some large-scale research in different domains can demonstrate reliability to such a degree that results can be generalized and applied to a wider population. In the ART program all the dance makers have a different background and heritage, unique artistic vision and motivation, personal dance vocabulary, and multiple approaches to structuring their administrative support. And they all live, perform, and strive in a challenging arts ecosystem. Added to this variation, within the capacity group, each trio of artist, mentor and administrator had its own internal dynamics and created a personalized working relationship to meet the artist’s goals. Similarly, each artist in the comparison group has a great deal of variation.
Even within the differences among all ART artists, there is congruency in the types of administrative positions that both the capacity and comparison cohorts need in order to advance their career trajectories. The top four administrative positions identified in all final reports were:
- Administrative Assistant/Office Manager
- Marketing/Booking and Tour Support
- Management/Executive Director/General Manager
- Development/Individual Giving
Administrative support for all ART dance makers with modest total operating expenses (averaging between $60,660 and $79,464) could be addressed through general operating support allocated toward staff positions, fundraising, and marketing. As one mentor stated, “Dedicated funding for administration is a hole in the funding ecology. This data should reinforce the need. This is the way to support artists in the field right now toward sustainability.”
ART was an artist-focused initiative first and a research study second. Its primary goal was to support a talented group of artists while demonstrating how administrative support when coupled with a nurturing environment can accelerate the artist’s own sense of agency and career growth. The evaluation and research study of ART contributes to knowledge in the field that others may learn from and adapt.
By design, ART was limited in scope, focusing more on the value of administrative support and less on the current trends, demographics, or ecology of the contemporary dance field in New York City. In a broader context, recent large-scale studies have reported on capacity building for artists and arts organizations, the status of project-based artists, philanthropic trends and grant making, and initiatives directed at addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion. These reports administered by service organizations and artist support groups with funding from government agencies and foundations have made a vital contribution to understanding the forces within the dance and arts community in New York City and nationally. The ART program was informed by these reports [see Appendix], which include:
- State of NYC Dance – Workforce Demographics, Dance/NYC, 2016
- Advancing Fiscally Sponsored Dance Artists and Projects, Dance /NYC, 2017
- To fail and fail big, A Study of Mid-Career Artists – Success and Failure, The Field, 2013
- What Are the Paradigm Shifts Necessary for the Arts Sector to Nurture THRIVING Institutions of Color?, Yancey Consulting, 2018
- Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy, Helicon Collaborative, 2017
Pentacle and other artist support organizations play an important role as learning laboratories where administrators and managers collaborate to inspire artists to reach their personal and professional milestones. As described in this report and others, the artist’s vision, whether nascent or fully realized, is the kernel that surrounding elements of the ecosystem must value to ensure that a healthy dance community grows and contributes to the civic life of New York and beyond.