Support for Individual Artists Research Initiative


Grantmakers in the Arts released the A Proposed National Standard Taxonomy for Reporting Data on Support for Individual Artists in the fall of 2014.

Three years ago, GIA launched an initiative to develop a taxonomy of artists support that can serve as a national standard for collecting, comparing, and analyzing data on support programs for individual artists. This work was undertaken by the team of Alan Brown and John Carnwath from WolfBrown, and Claudia Bach from AdvisArts Consulting, working with GIA staff.

For several years, GIA members who support individual artists have noted the lack of sector-wide data on artist support, the lack of a common taxonomy to explain the different forms of artist support, and the lack of benchmark data to track artist support over time. Recognizing that this is a complex picture and that support comes in many forms and from diverse sources, GIA has developed a taxonomy that permits comprehensive, systematic tracking of support to individual artists.

In the winter of 2015, GIA beta tested a database using the taxonomy. Following the beta test, GIA is now seeking an organization to further develop the database and begin collecting data on support for individual artists.

Following are links to the major publications that are the products of this work:

A Proposed National Standard Taxonomy for Reporting Data on Support for Individual Artists.
This is the core document that outlines the complete taxonomy of terms, and provides additional explanation and definitions.

Understanding Support for Individual Artists: Making a Case for National Standards
An article by John Carnwath, WolfBrown, a member of the team that developed the taxonomy, published in the Fall 2014 GIA Reader, that examines the values of common standards and ways funders can begin making use of the taxonomy.

The Funder and the Intermediary, in Support of the Artist: A Look at Rationales, Roles, and Relationships
An article by Claudia Bach, AdvisArts Consulting, published in the Winter 2014 GIA Reader, that explores the range of dimensions of the funder/regranter relationship.

A Review of Scholarly Research on Artist Support
A literature review commissioned by GIA from WolfBrown at the outset of this project.


Who will benefit from the national standard taxonomy?

  • Private and public funders who support individual artists
  • Arts service organizations that partner with funders to provide support for artists
  • Arts advocacy groups
  • Academics and researchers

How can funders use the taxonomy?

  • Use the definitions suggested in the taxonomy to clarify the objectives, strategies, and outcomes of your programs and increase the clarity of your communications.
  • Use the taxonomy’s categories to update and improve the quality of the data you collect about your grant programs and grantees.
  • Start tracking the different forms of support you provide to individual artists that are outlined in the taxonomy.

How will the national standard taxonomy help individual organizations and the field?

  • Increases clarity of communications by providing a common vocabulary
  • Provides templates for data collection and data management
  • Standard definitions improve transparency and external reporting
  • Helps identifying best practices
  • Allows organizations to benchmark themselves against their peers
  • Stimulates field-wide learning
  • Facilitates assessment of collective impact
  • Provides data for internal and external advocacy
  • Advances the dialog about artists support
  • Identifies areas where further research is required
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