Arts Research & Data and its Chicago Connection: Insights from the National Endowment for the Arts

Sunil and Jennifer

April 29, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
First Floor Garland Room

Sunil Iyengar, Research & Analysis Director at the National Endowment for the Arts; and Jennifer Novak-Leonard, NORC Research Associate & Cultural Policy Center Research Manager

In recent years, the National Endowment for the Arts has placed greater emphasis on the role of research within the arts and cultural field, and within the NEA itself. Sunil Iyengar, Director of the NEA's Office of Research and Analysis, will discuss the reasons for the heightened importance of arts research and data and share insights on major research initiatives currently underway at NEA. Of particular interest for the CPC Spring Workshop Series, Iyengar will share advance findings from the NEA's forthcoming report on the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which serves as the nation's leading source on information about how people participate in the arts.

Jennifer Novak-Leonard will present on how these national efforts are relevant to Chicago and share new findings from the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts for Illinois and Chicago.

How do national research efforts relate to Chicago? Iyengar and Novak-Leonard will discuss the possibilities for further connecting the national and the local, and putting the learning and findings from these efforts into practice on the local level.

Sunil Iyengar directs the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. Since his arrival at the NEA in June 2006, the office has produced more than 25 research publications, hosted several research events and webinars, twice updated the NEA's five-year strategic plan, and overseen a new and expanded survey about arts participation. In that time, the office also has created an arts system map and long-term research agenda, and has launched a research grants program. Sunil also chairs the Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development. Some of the NEA's most recent research includes Valuing the Art of Industrial Design(2013), The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth (2012), An Average Day in the Arts (2012), and The Arts and Human Development (2011). Sunil and his team have partnered with organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institutes to Health to study the arts in relation to such topics as economic development and the health and well-being of older adults. For a decade, Iyengar worked as a reporter, managing editor, and senior editor for a host of news publications covering the biomedical research, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries. He writes poetry, and his book reviews have appeared in publications such as theWashington PostNew York TimesSan Francisco ChronicleThe American ScholarThe New CriterionEssays in Criticism, and Contemporary Poetry Review. Iyengar has a BA in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Jennifer Novak-Leonard, NORC Research Associate & CPC Research Manager, specializes in evolving measurement systems to understand cultural participation, and the personal and public value derived from those experiences. Her work lies at the nexus between research, policy and practice. Currently, Ms. Novak-Leonard is a principal investigator of the California Survey of Arts & Cultural Participation at NORC, commissioned by the James Irvine Foundation. The survey captures a more extensive range of artistic activities than has previously been measured in scientific surveys. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, she is currently examining motivations for and barriers to arts attendance as measured by the most recent General Social Survey. Ms. Novak-Leonard leads projects on artists' education and employment, public funding, and arts in immigrant communities at the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, where she also lectures in the Harris School of Public Policy. She currently serves on the Cultural Data Project's Research Advisory Committee. Previously, Ms. Novak-Leonard was a Senior Consultant with WolfBrown and an Assistant Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. She is the lead author of "Beyond Attendance: A Multi- Modal Understanding of Arts Participation" (NEA, 2011). Select publications include: "Measuring the intrinsic impacts of arts attendance" (Cultural Trends, 2013); "Cultural Engagement in California's Inland Regions" (WolfBrown, 2008), "Arts and Culture in the Metropolis" (RAND, 2007) and, as a contributor, "Gifts of the Muse "(RAND, 2004).