As MAS is no stranger to the arts, neither is it a stranger to research.
In June 2012, MAS released its first arts digest—a collection of research, undertaken, in part with the Alliance for the Arts, as well as commissioned research. The collection looks at the State of the Arts in New York City, where nonprofit arts groups derive their income and how that’s changing, the economic impact of the nonprofit arts sector, and a new look at the financial condition of the sector. Taken together, they tell a story about the nonprofit arts community during the challenging economic downturn, which began in 2008 and cut deeply into the arts community. They also tell a story that illustrates that despite challenges, we now see signs of recovery and hopefulness. There are many indicators of resilience and sustainability discussed here—among them financial health, attendance, number of programs and workforce. Overall, what we see is that despite the recent long economic downturn, the nonprofit arts community is scrappy and nimble. Art making and audience building have continued at the highest levels of creativity and excellence, and New York City’s cultural community has been doing a terrific high-wire act in keeping their doors open during these difficult past few years.
MAS has embarked on an 18-month exploration investigating the research needs of the cultural field—helping to assess what kinds of research, and with what frequency, arts constituents need—as well as exploring potential models of collaboration and partnership might help deliver this kind of research. MAS is particularly interested in the intersection between livability and the sustainability and resilience of this key contributor to the city’s economy and neighborhood vibrancy.
With deep roots in evidence-based work to support its advocacy, in 2010 MAS began a new longitudinal measurement: the MAS Livability Survey. In 2011, the Survey identified that New Yorkers in many parts of the city—especially outside Manhattan—are not satisfied or do not connect with their local arts and culture offerings. With our deepened arts advocacy and research capacity, it is now possible for MAS to further examine this challenge to livability in New York. And, in assuming an arts research agenda at a time when tools for data collection and analyses are shifting and strategic policymaking and fund development are critical, MAS has the opportunity to be of great service to the cultural field and our city.
Alliance for the Arts
Americans for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts