By: Ashley Ann Wolfe

December 16, 2020


We’re thrilled to share a new report that we’ve been working on for several months: “Centering the Picture: The Role of Race & Ethnicity in Cultural Engagement in the U.S.” It’s a major analysis of national survey data from the first wave of Culture + Community in a Time of Crisis: A Special Edition of Culture Track. In it, we center the experiences, needs, and perspectives of BIPOC Americans as we explore patterns of difference and commonality among racial/ethnic groups in this national audience and community study.

How do people connect to arts, culture, and creativity? What do they need from the cultural sector during times of challenge and change? How have they been engaging digitally during the lockdowns? And how do they want arts and culture organizations to change? What’s the overall picture of answers to these questions, and where and how do responses vary by race and ethnicity?

The answers are illuminating, and they both confirm and challenge longstanding ideas about inclusion, relevance, and service. We hope the report informs and empowers funders, practitioners, artists, activists, policymakers, placekeepers, and our fellow researchers and consultants who are working toward equity and justice across the field.

With a foreword by the distinguished museum educator Esther J. Washington of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and a cover photo by the talented New York-based photographer Deb Fong, this report is written by Jen Benoit-Bryan, PhD, Madeline Smith, Matthew Jenetopulos, and Peter Linett, with key contributions from Melody Buyukozer Dawkins, PhD and Aparna Hariprasad. We’re grateful for the suggestions and critiques from several generous advisors — and, of course, from our initiative partners at LaPlaca Cohen, whose ongoing Culture Track study is the strategic platform for many of these research findings. This new report builds on the overall Key Findings report from Culture Track posted in July.

In sync with this publication amplifying BIPOC voices, we’ve just added a race/ethnicity filter option to the free Interactive Data Tool developed for the project in collaboration with Microsoft. The new feature allows you to explore the Wave 1 national survey data using the same categories that we compare in “Centering the Picture.”

Read or download the report and supplementary materials here. And please let us know how you interpret these findings in your context, your practice, and your community. We welcome conversation and ideas as we embark on the next two phases of the project.

Lead funding for Wave 1 of Culture + Community in a Time of Crisis (CCTC) was provided by the Wallace Foundation, with generous support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, Art Bridges, FocusVision, and Microsoft Corporation. The upcoming qualitative study and Wave 2 survey are supported again by the Wallace Foundation, Terra Foundation for American Art, and FocusVision, now joined by the Barr Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the William Penn Foundation. We’re also delighted to be collaborating with LaPlaca Cohen, Yancey Consulting, Ciara Knight, Katrina Bledsoe, NORC at the University of Chicago, and a number of expert advisors. Stay tuned!

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