These initial research reports were completed during summer 2014 by members of the Createquity editorial team. They are intended to give a sense of our (very) preliminary thoughts on the topic in question. We welcome discussion and debate. – IDM

  • A bit about our process

Between the two of us, we spent approximately 6-8 hours talking through and trying to refine our hypotheses, downloading and becoming familiar with Zotero (including watching a number of video tutorials), and searching for research reports online. John spent about an hour accessing databases from the UC Berkeley library. All other searching was done via the internet without library or academic credentials.

John started his search by combing through the bibliographies of recent reports addressing diversity issues, and then moved on to EBSCO and the International Index to Performing Arts. Talia focused on JSTOR, Project Muse, and Google Scholar. Toward the tail end of the research period, Project Muse and Google Scholar yielded the most new material. JSTOR and EBSCO seemed to have a lot of the same resources.

With the exception of one phone call to clarify the hypotheses and a few check-in emails to confirm which sources had been covered, we worked independently. John kept his searches pretty specific to the arts, while Talia branched off a little bit into research on how gender and racial dynamics impact career advancement broadly. Beyond compiling what appeared to be relevant resources in Zotero and occasionally adding a few notes about how the source was found, neither delved deeply into the research findings.


  • Determine the extent to which research exists addressing the topic area in general.
  • Determine the extent to which research exists addressing the specific hypotheses that we developed.

We found a good deal of research addressing diversity. Arts-related materials fell into four categories:

  1. Studies on arts participation – i.e. who is attending what
  2. Studies of broad demographic shifts that are underway and how they will affect arts organizations
  3. Studies examining specific demographics trends within specific disciplines (e.g. the lack of Asian-American actors in Broadway productions). However, these studies appear to have been generated in response to specific controversies, and do not seem to address each artistic discipline and demographic category with equal weight
  4. Recommendations to arts organizations hoping to diversify their staff and/or audiences


Very little of this research, however, directly addressed our hypotheses. Some research that addressed gender, race, and career advancement more broadly was more relevant than some of the arts-centric resources, but a number of gaps still remain. Each of our hypotheses had a number of layers that would require forming more than one research question (i.e. “to what extent do major arts institutions privilege works created by artists of a certain demographic?” and “what are the demographics of patrons, artists, and administrators in major arts institutions?”). In order to efficiently move forward, we would have to a) simplify our hypotheses, and/or b) spend more time delving into the findings of the research reports, rather than simply relying on titles and abstracts, and/or c) more thoroughly going through bibliographies of seminal texts and the tables of contents of major academic journals, and/or d) continue to branch out beyond arts-focused research to determine what we know about the impact of race and gender on career choice and prospects.


  • Identify any hypotheses that are missing from the list but should be added in light of what you’ve found in the research.

We do not feel ready to add any hypotheses. If anything, we may want to scale back or simplify the hypotheses we have already developed.


  • If possible, arrive at a broad understanding of where there are areas of consensus and debate in the research that does exist. (Looking for just a general impression here, not an in-depth review of particular studies.)

Our sense is that arts participation surveys confirm a lack of diversity among arts audiences. The extent to which major arts institutions indeed privilege works of certain artists, and/or the demographic makeup of artists and arts administrators across the ecosystem, seem more difficult to pinpoint.


  • If possible, arrive at an initial impression regarding the extent to which each hypothesis is supported by the research that does exist. Again if possible, assign a low/medium/high level of confidence to this impression. You can divide the hypotheses into subcomponents if that’s useful.

Because of the multiple layers to our hypotheses, our initial level of confidence in the availability of research supporting them is low. We need to stress, however, that more work has to be done looking into non-arts related research, combing through the resources we have compiled, and cross-checking our initial lists against bibliographies of major works on this topic. Neither of us felt we made it through the existing research in a systematic way.


  • Report back on the utility of Zotero, Papers, and Google Docs/Sheets for tracking preliminary investigations like these. Decide whether to commit a team-wide solution at this point or experiment with other options in the next round.

Zotero worked well for our purposes, though neither of us had the opportunity to fully explore its features.

  • blackpowerflower

    I’m going to check out zotero right now! As for the dearth of research in your specified area of investigation, it might be useful to also look at particular institutions. For example, the AAMD has a survey out on the gender gap in art museum directorships. I hear they’re in the beginning stages of another survey to address racial and ethnic diversity in the art museum field. I’m guessing that some museums, or theater companies or other arts/cultural institutions might have research that might not show up in the more scholarly haunts, but that seek to address these issues. Just a thought. I can’t wait to read up on your progress with this project. It sounds fascinating and timely.