NEA Research Labs: Monitoring and Improving Systems


Each of our Labs on “Monitoring and Improving Systems” focus on research questions such as the following:

  1. Community Health and/or Revitalization

    In what ways do the arts contribute to the healing and revitalization of communities? What factors mediate these contributions, and for the benefit of which populations? What are common elements of such programs or practices, and what are appropriate measures of success?

  2. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Arts

    What is the state of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the arts? What progress has been made in achieving these outcomes for arts administration, employment, learning, and participation? What are some promising practices and/or replicable strategies in these domains, and what are appropriate markers of success?

  3. Other Aspects of the Arts Ecosystem

    How is the U.S. arts ecosystem (e.g., arts organizations and venues, artists and arts workers, and participants and learners) adapting and responding to social, economic, and technological changes and challenges to the sector, including trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic? What are promising practices and/or replicable strategies for responding to such forces, for different segments of the arts ecosystem?

Current NEA Research Labs

University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Principal Investigator: Emily Hartlerode

Administered by the university's Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Oregon Folklife Network (the state's designated folk and traditional arts program) will study the impacts of Traditional Arts Apprenticeships (TAA) on artists and culture-bearers and the communities they serve, with a near-term goal of improving national data collection and reporting from an equity perspective. The Oregon Folklife Network seeks to answer questions such as: 1) To what degree are community values, as expressed by traditional arts apprentices, similar or different across regions, cultures, and art forms?; 2) To what degree are the community values served by TAA programming goals?; and 3) How can TAA administrative mechanisms be revised to better accommodate those community values?

The lab will start its multi-phase project by transcribing and analyzing previously conducted ethnographic interviews with apprentices from three localities (Oregon, Texas, and New York City). The team of researchers, arts administrators, and previous folk and traditional arts apprentices will use the transcripts to build a classification system of cultural values. Results from this phase will shape future research frameworks, and will produce recommendations on interview techniques that can be used routinely in TAA program delivery. Future research phases will build on results and recommendations from the first phase.

The team will share its findings and resources through a website, conference panels, webinars, and digital reports. Key partners for the lab include Western Arts Federation, Texas Folklife, New York Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Caledonia Northern Folk Studios, American Folklore Society, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, National Council for the Traditional Arts, Preserving America's Cultural Traditions, and Local Learning Network.

Other Key Personnel

  • Deana Dartt, PhD
  • Sergio Alonso
  • Sachindara Navinna
  • Theresa Secord