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The National Center for Arts Research Findings Generator

Highlights from the first, interactive NCAR report


In December 2013, the National Center for Arts Research presented the first NCAR Report, which shares evidence-based insights into the health of arts and cultural organizations in America. The full, interactive report can be seen at The second report and interactive IBM dashboard will be released in summer 2014. The above generator displays highlights from the first report.

  • The larger the organization, the higher the percentage of its operating revenue that goes to pay for artistic and program personnel compensation.
  • The smaller the organization, the higher the level of expenses it covers with contributed revenue.
  • The larger the organization, the more it spends on marketing to bring in each attendee.
  • The smaller the organization, the more likely it is to run an operating surplus.
  • Organizations of all sizes averaged positive working capital, with medium organizations having the lowest level and small organizations the highest.
  • San Francisco had the highest arts and culture dollar activity per capita – $895 – followed by New York and D.C. at roughly $610 each.
  • San Francisco also had the most arts organizations per 100,000 people.
  • Washington D.C.’s arts organizations have the largest average operating budget and the highest proportional level of federal arts funding.
  • Los Angeles spends more in marketing expenses to bring in each attendee than other area clusters.
  • Chicago organizations spend the lowest amount to bring in every attendee, followed by New York.
  • Los Angeles and Chicago organizations spend a low of 38% of their operating revenue on program personnel compensation while New York and Small markets spend a relatively high ratio of 47%.
  • Organizations in Very Small markets averaged the highest levels of working capital, followed by those in San Francisco.
  • Organizational age and size (total expenses) boost performance in every case.
  • World premieres lead to higher total expenses while local and national premieres drive higher marketing expenses.
  • More local, national, or world premieres all lead to higher attendance and higher levels of total engagement in theaters.
  • More working capital led to higher program salaries but fewer total offerings.
  • Organizations that target either young adults or African Americans tend to have a smaller footprint. They have higher levels of contributed revenue but lower program revenue, lower program personnel compensation levels and marketing expenses, lower attendance and engagement levels, and fewer total offerings.
  • Organizations that target kids (preK-12) have a larger footprint.
  • Organizations that spend more on fundraising (including personnel) and marketing (excluding personnel) have higher current assets.
  • Population has a positive effect on operating revenue, expenses, and total offerings.
  • Population size has a negative relationship with attendance and total engagement and it drives down current assets and increases current liabilities, leading to limited working capital.
  • Longer commute times in a community bring down performance on nearly every outcome.
  • Communities with a high concentration of Asian Americans tend to have arts organizations with a smaller footprint on numerous outcome measures.
  • Communities with high concentration of hispanics tend to have higher attendance, total engagement, and budget size.
  • A higher percentage of single-mother households tend to boost performance outcomes whereas more single-father households tend to negatively influence performance.
  • Younger people drive attendance at arts and cultural events. Attendance is lower when there is a high proportion of the population under 25. It also is lower as median age in the market increases.
  • Performance on most outcomes is lower when there is a higher concentration of people in the community with a graduate degree.
  • A higher percentage of single-mother households tend to boost performance outcomes whereas more single-father households tend to negatively influence performance.
  • Having more hotels in the market led to higher performance on nearly every measure. Hotels bring in visitors to the city and a stronger arts scene may be part of the draw.
  • Cities with more parks are fertile ground for fostering arts and cultural organizations with more total expenses, operating revenue, program revenue and total offerings.
  • Sports teams and zoos in a community negatively affect arts and cultural organizations
  • Cinemas negatively affect arts and cultural organizations, except in cases when they add more program offerings to compete.
  • Higher concentrations of larger corporations in the community boost marketing expenses, physical attendance, total expenses, and program salaries. There is a “big company” effect that impacts arts and culture.
  • Higher numbers of public radio and television stations drive lower attendance and fewer program offerings.
  • The number of NEA and/or IMLS grants an organization receives has a positive effect on every performance outcome.
  • Local funding as a portion of an organization’s budget has the same relationship with outcomes as state funding with one exception: they differ in that local funding boosts attendance and total engagement.

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