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

A new report from @LaPlacaCohen and @SloverLinett sheds light on the major racial disparities of cultural audiences and the urgent need to be more responsive to its various communities, particularly during this time of crisis. http://ow.ly/aU7150Av3zi

“There’s a difference between proscenium performance and community action.”

I'm very grateful to have listened in on a conversation with @bamuthi, @KenCenPrez, and myriad artists and partners about this system of Social Impact just announced at @kencen. Details below: https://twitter.com/kencen/status/1281277745134256128

Twitter feed video.“There’s a difference between proscenium performance and community action.” 
 
I'm very grateful to have listened in on a conversation with @bamuthi, @KenCenPrez, and myriad artists and partners about this system of Social Impact just announced at @kencen. Details below: https://t.co/rONzLxYgyG
The Kennedy Center@kencen

"If racism is structural, then anti-racism also must be structural."—@bamuthi

Today, we announce a system of Social Impact that we commit to growing as your nation's cultural center.

Learn more about our eight areas of work ➡ http://bit.ly/KCSocialImpact

"Culture & Community in a Time of Crisis: A Special Edition of Culture Track" is a new study that aims to shed light on how arts and culture organizations can address the hopes, fears, and needs of Americans during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

@steamworkgroup @LaPlacaCohen Happy to report that *now* the email requirement has been removed; thank you for your feedback and patience!

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