Research Department

Research Publications

ABC's Research Department was an action-oriented research department that conducted 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, our research team strategically used research to support the development of relevant, partner-facing programming capable of adapting to change.

Read the first edition here: Research Notes

2023 Research Reports

Narrative Change for Racial Equity in Nonprofit Funding: An Exploratory Report on Community-Centric Fundraising in the Arts and Culture Sector

ABC publishes its first Racial Equity in Arts Funding report today! While POC and white allies have organized within various networks and coalitions to address racial inequities in nonprofit funding, Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) stands apart as the most visible fundraiser-led initiative in this space. Seeking to center the experiences of POC fundraisers and other nonprofit professionals working at POC-led organizations, the Narrative Change for Racial Equity in Nonprofit Funding report grounds its analysis in ethnographic interviews. The report responds to two core needs expressed by research participants: a more robust articulation of the “why” of CCF—or the movement’s overarching vision for systemic change—and more specificity around the “how” of CCF—or what the movement’s work looks like in practice. The report’s landscape analysis and interview findings offer both context and tools for those striving not only to cultivate and steward increased support for POC artists and POC-led arts organizations, but also to upend the structural barriers in fundraising and philanthropy that stand in the way of racial equity in arts funding.

To view the full report, please click the link.

Key Takeaways for Nonprofit Leaders and Fundraisers

The Narrative Change for Racial Equity in Nonprofit Funding report offers inspiration and guidance for resource builders in the arts and culture field—and beyond—who are striving to realize greater racial equity in their strategies and tactics. It also offers provocations and questions toward strengthening the efficacy and impact of this work. "Key Takeaways for Arts and Culture Nonprofit Leaders and Fundraisers" summarizes core findings and questions, and provides guidance for locating anecdotes and case studies by thematic categories.

To view the summary, please click the link.

Key Takeaways for Arts and Culture Funders and Donors

Nonprofit leaders and fundraisers cannot enact the paradigm shifts outlined in the Narrative Change for Racial Equity in Nonprofit Funding report alone. "Key Takeaways for Arts and Culture Funders and Donors" serves as a tool for foundations, government agencies, corporations, and major donors to challenge themselves to better align with and advocate for new community-centric narratives in fundraising and philanthropy. The nonprofit sector needs institutional funders and donors willing to work in solidarity with the nonprofits and communities they support.

To view the summary, please click the link.

Past Research (2020-2022)

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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