Bill Clinton was president. Cher topped the charts. The millennium loomed. And the Chicago Symphony Orchestra wanted a little help with audience research.

 

We began working with cultural organizations in 1999, starting in our hometown—first with the CSO and, eighteen months later, with the Art Institute of Chicago. Both of those projects turned into years-long relationships and led to engagements with other renowned museums and performing arts organizations around the country. Our research began to challenge longstanding assumptions and shine light on new possibilities.

 

In 2003, we started working with science museums, public media producers, and foundations that support the arts.

Then, in 2005, our founders—Cheryl Slover-Linett and Peter Linett—were joined by Chloe Chittick Patton and Sarah Lee. It was the start of a remarkable collaboration: both Chloe and Sarah later became members of the firm’s leadership team and helped grow Slover Linett into one of the leading cultural research consultancies in the U.S.

 

2005 also saw us move into our current offices in a converted factory building in Chicago’s Ravenswood Corridor. (Well, not entirely converted. There’s still a manual elevator straight out of a Bogart movie.)

 

The rest has been a story of learning with and from our clients – and with and from their audience, communities, and participants. Each year, it seems, we take on new and more complex research about how culture works, how participation is changing, and how experimentation can lead to relevance.

Years ago, we were bummed when one of our freelance data-entry workers told us he had to quit: his band was going on tour. That band? The Arcade Fire. That young man? Multi-instrumentalist and composer Richard Reed Parry.

Next door to our suite in the building on Ravenswood was the political office of Rod Blagogevich, then governor of Illinois. So we shouldn’t have been surprised one morning to find federal agents blocking the hallway and carting out his files. Wire fraud, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to solicit bribes? “That’s the Chicago way.”

We used to work in higher education as well as the cultural sector, helping universities like Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Chicago understand their applicants, students, and alumni. That practice was acquired by Huron Consulting in 2013

Over the years, our staff of researchers-by-day has included a circus performer, a classical pianist, a BMX bike-dancer, and a theater director. It still includes some people who might surprise you.

Latest Tweets

Before "high" #culture peeled off from "low," #art from entertainment: Scott Joplin was "a hit in the saloons of the Midwest...but also in the high-society parlors of European capitals." Love @nytimes #overlooked series of belated obits for people of color

Scott Joplin circa 1904. He would come to be revered as a ragtime giant and an in-demand performer.

Scott Joplin, Ragtime Master Who Wrote ‘The Entertainer’

Scott Joplin elevated ragtime, composed one of the first African-American operas and laid the groundwork for jazz.

www.nytimes.com

Thank you @murawski27 for breaking down practical ways to tackle change to move community involvement work forward. #firstwave @OFBYFOR_ALL

@stevenkohls Hi Steve, I run an audience research & evaluation firm for arts & culture nonprofits, and we're developing a new website - would love to use literally like 9 seconds of footage from your video of the Crossing Arts mural painting. Thoughts? Thanks very much.

@steamworkgroup @SloverLinett @DrPriceIsRight Right, we've sometimes said the same to each other here @SloverLinett. But increasingly, #genderidentity is one of the dimensions of diversity and inclusion that #museums and #arts orgs are striving for, so it's worth measuring and tracking over time.

Around our table: Great chat about asking #gender on #surveys inclusively, empathetically & analyze-ably? Is transgender a category (noun) or modifier of male or female (adj.)? Who are we to define the options, but closed-ended questions force the issue. #audienceresearch #arts

Load More...

Let's stay in touch. Sign up for our newsletters.