Understanding Boston

Vital Signs: Metro Boston's Arts and Cultural Nonprofits 1999 and 2004

Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 19, No 1 (Spring 2008)

Susan Nelson and Ann McQueen

2007, 79 pages. The Boston Foundation, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116, (617) 338-1700, www.tbf.org
PDF Online: www.bostonindicators.org

This report, from the Boston Foundation, compares data from a previous study in 1999 to comparable data from 2004 to track the growth and evolution of the city's cultural sector. Overall, the report finds cultural nonprofits in good health, but also cites warning signs of potential financial stress and uncovers questions for further research. The churn of smaller organizations appearing and leaving the marketplace suggests there is room for further innovation. The overall environment is supportive, indicated by the city's arts-inclined demographic, but while this population remains static, contributions from corporations and foundations have seen a slight decrease. Audience development and engagement is one of the areas where further research also appears needed. The report closes by asking a series of key questions and defining key issues for cultural leadership and funders in the city.