Research on Performing Arts in Communities

We may go to the opera, live theater, or the symphony, but we don't stop to really think about how much these performances can mean to our daily lives and to our communities. Those performing arts organizations have been concentrating on this issue for years.

They have rarely had the resources or staff to conduct the necessary surveys to get that kind of information. And even if, say, an individual ballet company has detailed data about how its work is perceived by its audience members, it's unlikely that it knows what the general population thinks about its work, or how that information compares to other arts organizations in that city. Of course, private companies, and other sectors like health and education, do this kind of research all the time, it being crucial to their efforts to lobby legislators and generate public opinion on certain issues.

But most arts organizations are so understaffed and underfunded that they have never put aside money for this kind of research, and never before has a national effort been undertaken to get solid data on all the disciplines of performing arts. That is, until now.

Our continuing series with the Urban Institute continues with a look at how to quantify and qualify the contribution of performing arts. And joining us to talk about that is Mary Kopczynski, who is a research associate with the Public Management Program of the Urban Institute.

The full transcript and RealAudio stream of the interview are available online from The Urban Institute