“Olathe Human Resources” by City of Olathe


Are you familiar with resources that examine the expansion of the nonprofit arts ecosystem, and which attempt to identify its most important drivers or weigh those drivers’ relative influence?

We are currently researching key changes to the arts ecosystem to inform our larger research goal of understanding the capacity to create change within the sector. For the moment, we are placing greater emphasis on understanding the different drivers of these key changes (and their relative importance) than the consequences of each change.

The key change we are currently focused on is the growth of the nonprofit arts sector, beginning in the late 1950s. Our initial dive into the literature (see our Zotero library for a running bibliography) has given us solid understanding of the most frequently cited drivers of this change, including but not limited to:

  • the catalytic funding programs of the Ford Foundation and other philanthropic entities
  • the establishment of the NEA and state and local arts councils
  • demographic shifts toward a larger, more prosperous, and better educated American public, and
  • changes in societal values over time.

However, we have not found many studies or works which weigh these various drivers of change against one another and examine their relative importance, especially internal actors like the Ford Foundation vs. larger societal factors like demographics or values.

We have a feeling there may be theses, dissertations, and other sources we have not come across that would shed light this topic, and we would appreciate any recommendations for resources for us to check out. If you know of a valuable resource on the expansion of the nonprofit arts sector, we invite you to leave a comment on this post or email info@createquity.com. Thanks!