In to the Archive: Research Initiatives
Our Research Initiatives have focused on national, state, and local aspects of Latinx artistic and cultural production as a means of understanding the social value of these activities.
NALAC’s 2019 State of Latino Arts and Culture Organizations
With the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, NALAC launched a national survey of Latino arts and culture organizations. The research study was conducted to address the critical lack of available information about Latino arts and culture organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico, with a goal to provide updated information on the state of the Latino arts and culture field and influence a change in funding policy. There were several data collection efforts employed as part of this research effort. First was the compilation of a national directory of Latino arts and culture organizations; second was an online survey distributed to over 1,100 Latino arts and culture organizations, and third was a secondary literature review. NALAC received a 25% response rate with 277 completed surveys returned. Key findings about the state of the Latino arts and culture field in 2019 are as follows:
- Most Latino arts and culture organizations are art, service, or performance/presenting 501c3s, were started in the 21st century, and are located primarily in California, New York, or Texas.
- Most organizations primarily serve Latino-specific populations in the United States.
- Most organizations are working primarily with the disciplines of art education, music, and folk/traditional arts by providing arts training/instruction/education, concert/performance/reading, and artwork creation/artistic production services with a focus on the social themes of arts and culture, education, and youth.
- Most organizations rent locations in the communities they serve and provide access to community spaces, performance studios, and theatres/stages to artists and the public.
- Most organizations operate with budgets under $100,000 from earned income, government funding, and foundation grants to pay for programming, salaries/benefits, and occupancy (rent/mortgage) expenses.
Results of the study have been used externally in our proposals and advocacy presentations, as well as internally to inform our program development. In addition, the survey data was used to create a public online organization directory on our website. It is searchable by keyword, location, category, organization type, primary discipline, and organization founding year. It provides participating organizations with a free national listing and offers the public an easy way to find a Latino arts and culture organization to visit or support. The database is helpful to NALAC in advancing our networking strategy and is also helpful to organizations in developing new partnerships whether locally or across the country.
At NALAC we view the 2019 study as Phase 1 of a larger effort to help uncover and better understand the universe of Latino arts and culture organizations in the United States. We recognized the power of a national survey to help us begin to fill in the portrait of the field and immediately began to think about how the network could increase its formidable voice with an expanded sample and enhanced questions. To that end, in 2022, NALAC hired its first full-time research manager. The position is an investment to build capacity, long-term sustainability and expand our contributions to the field through needed research in the years to come. Contact us for more information about our national surveys.
Michigan Latino Arts Survey
Building Equal Voice for the Growing Latino Population in Michigan through Arts and Culture
In 2017 and early 2018, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NALAC created and promoted a first-of-its-kind effort to assess the experience of Latinx artists and arts stakeholders living and working in the state of Michigan. This effort followed three years of programming by NALAC in Michigan, and had three key goals:
- To assess and identify specific resources that Michigan Latino artists and arts stakeholders are relying on.
- To identify specific areas of support for future efforts by NALAC in the state.
- To ascertain the overall state of affairs for Latino artists in Michigan.
Two surveys were created with questions geared towards two groups – individual artists living and working in Michigan and organizations that offered arts-related programming or support. Each survey contained approximately 20 questions, with most questions providing a free-text box to capture responses. The surveys were advertised using a variety of digital and in-person methods including a targeted emailing campaign to NALAC contacts in Michigan, a direct outreach campaign by the Michigan Research Associate at Michigan events and via direct calling and contact efforts, and a variety of outreach efforts through social media. In the end, 37 respondents filled out the survey, with approximately 10 more people providing informal responses to some survey questions at events.
Despite reaching a diverse range of age groups, income levels, and experiences as a practicing artist, several unifying themes emerged in respondents’ responses. These themes include:
- Lack of infrastructure including funding and arts spaces in Michigan communities
- Desire for a centralized clearinghouse of funding and support opportunities
- Many artists and organizations perceive themselves as operating “on their own” and with little financial support from the broader arts community
While respondents indicated there are many challenges to living and working as a Latinx artist in Michigan, this study also revealed a diverse community hungry for more opportunities for both financial support and community building.
Building Latino Leadership, Cultural Equity and Creative Innovation
Between 2010 and 2012 NALAC conducted six National Conversations to examine innovations, promote national dialogue and gather information on how demographic shifts and economic conditions are affecting the leadership structures, artistic production, organizational capacity and cultural equity in Latino communities. The first three conversations were convened in January 2010 in New York, San Antonio and Philadelphia. These historic conversations resulted in the publication of three white papers (now christened by NALAC as brown papers) that were presented to a national audience at NALAC’s 7th National Conference in San Jose, California. NALAC convened the second iteration of National Conversations in 2011-2012 in San Francisco, Chicago and Miami to gather additional perspectives from the diverse national Latino arts sector. Each conversation was followed by a Town Hall meeting to gather feedback from the arts community in each city. NALAC invited accomplished Latino artists, leaders, legends, scholars and others from around the country to participate in its groundbreaking National Conversations Project in order to identify solutions to issues of capitalization, next generation leadership development and capacity building. After the 2010 sessions, acclaimed journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry, whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Vibe, the Village Voice, Smithsonian, The Nation, Time, among many others, prepared a series of three brown papers edited by Dr. Maribel Alvarez. The three papers are “Aesthetics”, “Leadership”, and “Organizations.”
2009-2010 Organization and Artists Economic Survey Analysis
In response to the economic downturn in 2008, NALAC conducted a series of surveys in 2009 and 2010 to assess the economic condition of Latino artists and arts and culture organizations. The data collected shows that the Latino arts field experienced significant decreases and delays in funding, diminished revenue and reductions in staff and programs. Additionally, the results indicate that a significant number of Latino artists surveyed experienced an increase in requests to donate performances, to absorb production expenses and to provide their own equipment and labor in order to present their work. Both artists and organizations explored different strategies to maintain artistic production and provide much-needed programs and services despite harsh economic conditions.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Survey Analysis
In order to measure the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding on Latino arts and culture organizations, NALAC conducted a survey focused on the distribution of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) ARRA grants to Latino organizations. A total of 96 Latino organizations participated in this survey.
Nebraska Arts Council Latino Arts Initiative
Composite Report Listening Sessions August 22-25, 2005
The Nebraska Arts Council initiated the Latino Arts Initiative in 2005 in an effort to help develop a comprehensive strategy for providing services to the Latino arts field in Nebraska. A ten member Steering Committee representing organizations from across the state was formed to facilitate local connections, and NALAC supported outreach efforts to identify Latino artists and organizations and assess their needs. A series of listening sessions were held. NALAC prepared a synopsis of the sessions based on observations and our conversations with artists and community representatives from across the state. The report made suggestions for the Nebraska Arts Council to promote an environment of meaningful support to the Latino arts community and promote diversity.
Latino Arts and Cultural Organizations in the United States
A Historical Survey and Current Assessment
Beginning in 1995, NALAC undertook the necessary task of collecting data on constituent Latino arts organizations throughout the nation. As the first ever national study of its kind, the survey and assessment was a response to the lack of factual data and general information that existed on Latino arts and cultural organizations. Through this research NALAC fulfilled the need to know its constituency better, and fostered mutual understanding among Latino arts and culture organizations and gave others the opportunity to gain insight into this often unrecognized community. During the first phase, two field researchers conducted in-person interviews with 43 organizations throughout the nation. A survey instrument was designed and distributed to each of these organizations. Whereas this first phase consisted of data collection and documentation, the second phase involved some data analysis so as to identify significant conditions and trends that have possible implications for policy. The summary report is based on this research, which focused on the history, development, current conditions and future prospects of these organizations with the goal of documenting this information for further analysis and synthesis. Interviews were divided into two geographic areas- the Southwest/West Coast Region and East Coast/Chicago Region, and the report compiled and synthesized information on key areas such as history, mission, current status, funding, governance, programs, audiences and issues which provided a thorough collective profile of the organizations in that region. The research showed certain unmistakable trends and conditions that have confronted and challenged Latino arts organizations.