Rising Tides Research Institute

Rising Tides Research Institute

Rising Tides Research Institute (RTRI) is an action-oriented research department that conducts projects which contribute to progressive and radical public policies that address the enduring systems of inequalities that have impacted POC, Black people in particular, with a focus on key stakeholders in the arts: artists, business owners, and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, RTRI strategically uses research to support the development of relevant, partner-facing programming capable of adapting to change.

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Key Findings

Key Findings in the Time of COVID

In March 2020, when initial plans for quarantine were announced artists, arts businesses and arts nonprofits sought out tactical approaches to manage the present and future socio-economic uncertainty by using the resources immediately available to them. The extent to which these resources would be and are successful remains to be determined.

In efforts to initially explore the tactical approaches taken by arts entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders, Rising Tides Researchers executed an artist and arts business needs analysis survey, conducted via the lens of racial equity, to gain a clear sense of the crisis artists and arts nonprofits were potentially facing, We tackled two important questions:

  1. What percentage of dance and theater artists of color applied for emergency aid?
  2. What were the opportunities and challenges they faced during the application process?

In this study we found:

  • 92% of respondents used personal income to sustain their primary art prior to and after COVID. This suggests that there is a disconnect between capital acquisition and growth within the artist/art business’s operations and within the sector more broadly.
  • 76% of dance and theater artists interviewed applied for emergency aid. Issues impacting who applied for, qualified and received aid, and in what form, point to sustainability issues with the gig economy structure, and knowledge and preparedness issues for sole proprietors and nonprofits during the aid application process.
  • More than 50% of respondents applied for forms of aid that they or their organizations would not qualify for or were unaware of other forms of available aid.
  • 69% of respondents answered that the conditions they currently face as a result of COVID-19 are the same or similar to what they experienced before while working as artists or arts businesses.
  • Ethnographic survey questions revealed these conditions have been exacerbated since COVID.

In the short-term, the goal of this needs analysis survey was met as it gathered data that facilitated ABC/Rising Tides’s capacity to support POC artists and arts nonprofits through accessible technical training and education intended to improve access to emergency aid and funding, and ultimately crisis management.

However, the study also revealed that many POC-led arts nonprofits were not well-positioned to manage current and future challenges, uniquely amplified by the global pandemic, that would put their futures at risk. Ultimately, these results showed that there are systemic issues that contribute to financial precarity for POC artists and arts nonprofits. Rising Tides Research Institute identified this as a further call to inquiry and positioned this as is the foundation for future research.

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