NEA Research Labs: The Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation

Overview

Each of our Labs on the “Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation” focus on at least two of the following research questions”:

  • How do entrepreneurship and innovation reveal themselves differently in the arts relative to other sectors? What about similarly?
  • What is the link between artists (including designers) and broad societal innovation, particularly with regard to economic and job growth?
  • How does the nonprofit arts sector contribute directly to innovation in commercial settings, within or outside the arts? 
  • What role do arts and cultural assets play in promoting civic and/or corporate innovation in a community?
  • What individual, organizational, or regional characteristics can positively affect the arts’ relationship to entrepreneurship and innovation?
  • In which industries, sectors, or geographic areas is arts-driven innovation visible and measurable?
  • How do nonprofit and for-profit organizations; federal, state, and local governments; and/or fiscal sponsorships affect how artists and/or arts organizations function and innovate?
  • How do arts-based entrepreneurship and innovation benefits and related outcomes compare with those achieved by non-arts approaches?

Current NEA Research Labs

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Principal Investigator: Joanna Woronkowicz, PhD

Researchers from Indiana University, Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis will create Arts Entrepreneurship and Innovation (AEI) Lab to conduct studies on the role of artists in civic innovation; artists and new economies (including crowdfunding patterns for artists); digital media growth; and other topics. The Lab will 1) use experimental research designs to study embedded artists-in-residence in a public sector context; 2) analyze artists' careers by using various large datasets, such as the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, and the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, and using statewide survey data in partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission; 3) perform research on conditions that foster successful artistic entrepreneurship and audience development; 4) publish the research conducted during the initial Lab award in top journals and other outlets; and 5) organize and sponsor panels at national and international research convenings.

The research agenda aims to address the following research questions:

  1. What is the artist's role in civic innovation?;
  2. What leadership role do artists play in emerging "platform" and "gig" economies?;
  3. Where does innovation and economic growth occur in the digital media sector?; and
  4. Which arts sectors are linked to broader societal innovation, as reflected by U.S. economic and job growth?

Other Key Personnel

  • Douglas Noonan, PhD
  • Thomas Guevara, MA

For more information on this Lab, see their Research Lab webpage.

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New York University, New York, NY
Principal Investigator: Alex Ruthmann, PhD

New York University, in partnership with the New World Symphony (NWS) in Miami, Florida, will establish the Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Performing Arts Lab to investigate methods and characteristics that foster entrepreneurship and innovation within the classical music ecosystem in the United States. Researchers will evaluate outcomes from musician fellows in NWS BLUE (Build, Learn, Understand, Experiment), an entrepreneurial training program. The Lab researchers will capture, describe, and map emerging entrepreneurial mindsets, skills, and practices among NWS BLUE fellows, as well as organizational characteristics that support sustainable innovation in their communities. Future studies will involve data collection from current employers, educational feeder organizations and schools, and the local communities they serve. Products likely to result from this Lab include: quarterly podcasts; conference presentations; a Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Arts Summit event; and academic publications.

The research agenda aims to address the following research questions:

  1. What individual and organizational characteristics and practices best support sustainable, culturally and locally relevant entrepreneurial activity and innovation among current and former New World Symphony (NWS) Fellows, their employers, and feeder organizations and schools?; and
  2. What role might performing arts training organizations such as the NWS play in promoting artistic and civic innovation among early-career musician artists within their communities and "feeder" organizations?

Other Key Personnel

  • Bruce Carter, PhD
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University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Principal Investigator: Charles Fluharty, MDiv

Supported by the Arts Endowment from 2017-2019

The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) at the University of Iowa, in partnership with the organization Art of the Rural, will look at the intersection of “The Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation” in rural contexts. RUPRI also will work with its Rural Intracultural Policy Council to develop pilot studies of rural "cultural ecologies." The pilot studies may use social network analysis, structured interviews, and respondent-driven survey sampling to test hypotheses about cultural and social capital as preconditions to innovation.

The research agenda aims to address the following research questions:

  1. What is the link between artists (including designers) and broad societal innovation, particularly with regard to economic and job growth?; and
  2. What role do arts organizations play in promoting civic innovation in a community?

Other Key Personnel

  • Kiley Arroyo, MA
  • Sam Cordes, PhD
  • Matthew Fluharty, PhD
  • Thomas Johnson, PhD

For more information on this Lab, see their Research Lab webpage.

Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Iowa logo

The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Principal Investigator: Stanislas Renard, DMA, DBA

University of Texas at San Antonio will partner with the Americans for the Arts to develop an Arts Entrepreneurship Research Lab, which will focus on studying arts incubators to understand the economic potential of artists as non-conventional entrepreneurs and the impact of the digital divide for arts-based entrepreneurs. Researchers will use a mixed-methods approach to assess best practices of national arts incubators as well as assess arts entrepreneurs' digital skills and entrepreneurial skills, artist recognition, and economic impact; as well as incubator output through standardized metrics.

The research agenda aims to address the following research questions:

  1. How do entrepreneurship and innovation reveal themselves differently in the arts relative to other sectors?
  2. In which industries, sectors, or geographic areas are arts-driven innovation visible and measurable?
  3. How do arts-based entrepreneurship and innovation benefits and related outcomes compare with those achieved by non-arts approaches?

Other Key Personnel

  • Gianluca Zanella, MA
  • Randy Cohen
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