SMU’s National Center for Arts Research
releases results of first arts leader sentiment survey

A survey by SMU's National Center for Arts Research finds arts leaders say future looks positive.

student painting

DALLAS (SMU) – Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) has released the results of its Arts Manager Sentiment Survey, which collected and analyzed national arts leaders’ opinions on the health of the nation’s cultural sector across a range of disciplines. 

student paintingThe survey results indicated that, overall, arts leaders have a positive outlook for the future of their organizations in areas like attendance and revenue streams.

Launched in February 2013 by SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business in collaboration with the Cultural Data Project (CDP) and numerous other partners, NCAR is the first center of its kind established to analyze the largest database of arts research ever assembled and to act as a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community.  The Arts Leader Sentiment Survey is the first step in the Center’s mission to be the leading provider of evidence-based insights to enable arts and cultural leaders to overcome challenges and increase the impact of their institutions. 

“While we can easily look at whether revenue and expenses went up or down over time, we want to dig deeper to understand why,” said Dr. Zannie Voss, NCAR director. “We expect that arts leaders’ perceptions about the environment, their confidence in meeting expectations, and their sense of optimism will affect their decision-making, and ultimately performance.” 

The Arts Manager Sentiment Survey was administered from February to March 2013 to arts leaders across the nation, spanning the disciplines of the visual arts, arts education, dance, music (non-symphony), opera, performing arts centers, symphonies and theaters.  The survey addressed seven distinct issues:

  • The leaders’ perceptions of local conditions in the cultural sector
  • Their outlooks on attendance
  • Earned revenue
  • Contributed revenue
  • Program quality
  • Risk taking
  • Strategic change 

According to the key insights developed from analyses of the survey results, the nation’s arts leaders generally have a brighter outlook on the future of their local cultural sector conditions. 

Among the disciplines, only dance leaders perceived its past conditions as more favorable than future conditions.  The majority of leaders polled are optimistic about their future attendance levels, future levels of earned and contributed revenue, and the continued strengthening of their programming. Considering this high level of optimism, arts leaders are also planning to take risks at a similar or higher level than in past years.

The complete results of NCAR’s Arts Leader Sentiment Survey are available online at

About the National Center for Arts Research

The first of its kind in the nation, SMU’s National Center for Arts Research was established by SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business. NCAR will analyze the largest database of arts research ever assembled and investigate important issues in arts management and patronage, while making its findings available to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers and the general public. NCAR’s goal is to create the most complete picture of the health of the arts sector in the U.S. and to act as a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community.

NCAR is able to pursue analysis of this unprecedented collation of data through a number of partnerships, including Cultural Data Project, Theatre Communications Group, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Dr. Zannie Voss, chair and professor of arts management and arts entrepreneurship in the Meadows and Cox schools, serves as NCAR’s director and Dr. Glenn Voss, the Marilyn R. and Leo F. Corrigan, Jr. Endowed Professor of Marketing at Cox, serves as research director.

For more information, please visit

About the Meadows School of the Arts

The Meadows School of the Arts, formally established in 1969 at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is one of the foremost arts education institutions in the United States. The Meadows School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, communication studies, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music and theatre. The goal of the Meadows School of the Arts, as a comprehensive educational institution, is to prepare students to meet the demands of professional careers. The Meadows School is a leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, challenging its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections between art, entrepreneurship and change.

The Meadows School of the Arts is also a convener for the arts in North Texas, serving as a catalyst for new collaborations and providing critical industry research. For more information, visit

About the Cox School of Business 

SMU’s Cox School of Business, originally established in 1920 and named in honor of benefactor Edwin L. Cox in 1978, offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate business education programs.  Among them:  BBA, Full-Time MBA, Professional MBA (PMBA), Executive MBA (EMBA), Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Master of Science in Finance, Master of Science in Management, Master of Science in Sport Management and Executive Education.

The school also offers a number of unique resources and activities for students, ranging from its Business Leadership Center (BLC), Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, Maguire Energy Institute and Global Leadership Program to its Associate Board Executive Mentoring Program and an international alumni network with chapters in more than 20 countries.

For more information, visit

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Media Contacts:

Victoria Winkelman
Meadows School of the Arts
Hanna Gisel/Molly Krause
Resnicow Schroeder Associates