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, Sarah Lee, and other colleagues who 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.

To me, research is a means to an end, not an end in itself. That’s why we don’t go into a project advocating a particular method in advance. We always try to better understand what an organization or funder is trying to accomplish through cultural engagement. Then we pick from the many tools in our toolkit:  frameworks, models, and methods from our various disciplines and backgrounds.”

Tanya Treptow, PhD

Vice President & Co-director of Research

Latest Tweets

“We’re at a time where we need #hope & incredible #artistry used as evidence that our differences are our strengths.” Couldn't agree more with @MickeyIsaacRowe of @NatDisThtr; what an exciting partnership with our friends @GoodmanTheatre & @ljplayhouse!

National Disability Theatre Launches Commissioning Partnership

The organization will partner with La Jolla Playhouse and Goodman Theatre to develop and produce two new plays by Gregg Mozgala and Christopher Shinn.

bit.ly

Are the processes to creating #art or investigating # really so different?
"The greatest creative acts come from opposing forces of expansive imagination within the tight constraint of form--that is as true for art as it is of science. @SloverLinett

Rethinking stereotypes about science and the arts

Unthinkable: Prof Tom McLeish identifies eight stages of creation common to disciplines as diverse as painting and biology

www.irishtimes.com

"What does reading widely & wildly do to build #empathy & perhaps encourage individuals or groups into civic action & #service?"@n_plaskett ponders the potential opportunities for researching the impact of book clubs & #literature. #culturalresearch

I must visit! “It has been our experience that if empathy and dignity were at the core of our approach to addressing homelessness then we might think and dream of better solutions to address this global problem.” @SloverLinett

Alliance of Museums on Twitter

“"Our #museum has been called many things, but the one thing that I like to hear most is 'a walk in the shoes of someone experiencing homelessne...

twitter.com

"University & college #museums run the gamut from those featuring contemporary #art & ancient relics used as teaching tools to world-class collections tackling groundbreaking projects." Congrats to our friends @ColbyMuseum on this mention in @nytimes: https://t.co/IvRI6KjbAf

"What makes a #cultural institution particularly likely to serve as a source of inspiration?" @michell86113013 reflects on recent research with a #museum that is seemingly serving as an oasis to both #artists & patrons alike: https://t.co/Z1LJGtodd6

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