Barr Foundation Art Vibrancy Analysis | FAQ
Where do these demographic data come from?

Socio-economic and demographic data is sourced primarily from the American Community Survey (ACS) fielded by the United States Census Bureau. The ACS collects data annually to provide information on “jobs and occupations, educational attainment, veterans, whether people own or rent their homes, and other topics.” You can learn more about the ACS here:

Additional information is sourced from the IRS’ Individual Income Tax Return Statistics data. You can find more information about this data here:

How is the Arts Vibrancy calculated?

When assessing a community’s vibrancy, we take a data-driven approach, drawing on 13 unique measures which cover aspects of supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture, and are adjusted for cost of living and for population size. With this report, our goals are to provide information about metrics that are meaningful and consequential, and to stimulate a conversation about how cities vary in their arts vibrancy and the forms vibrancy can take. Arts Provider metrics are a gauge of supply and include the number of independent artists, arts and culture employees, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, and arts, culture, and entertainment firms in the community. Arts Dollar metrics represent a gauge of demand for nonprofit arts and cultural programming, including earned revenue from program activities, contributed revenue supporting the arts, total compensation to artists and staff, and total expenses. Government grant activity is a gauge of public support for arts and culture, captured as the number and dollar amount of state and federal grants and total government grant dollars in the community. Table 4 below includes additional details on what we measured and the sources of data for each variable. We adjust revenue and expense figures by a cost-of-living index.

For more information on how the scores are calculated, visit our Methodology page.

Are large cities inherently more arts vibrant because they have more organizations and money?

This is not necessarily the case. In calculating Arts Vibrancy, SMU DataArts aims to make the analysis as equitable as possible across diverse community types by controlling the data in three ways:

  1. All values are adjusted on a per capita basis
  2. All financial measures are adjusted based on a cost of living index
  3. All values are spatially adjusted to account for the concentration or dispersion of arts and culture in a community. (You can read more about our approach to spatial adjustments here:
Why is (a specific area or town) ranked so high in arts vibrancy? I think of that area mostly as a residential area and not much actual art activity.

The distribution of arts and culture in a community is accounted for in many ways. As noted in the previous question, by spatially adjusting data, we are able to account for the trade areas for which arts and culture serve within a community, not just the physical presence of arts providers in a very small geographic area. Our research has found that the average trade area surrounding an arts provider extends to about 30 miles from its location, which ma y explain why an area viewed as residential still benefits from arts and culture close to them.

Additionally, all scores for Arts Vibrancy are comparative in nature. The scores do not provide a threshold for the level of arts and cultural activity but rather provides a comparison of how communities compare to one another.

I would like to get a more detailed arts vibrancy report for my community. Is that possible?

If you are seeking further data or analysis about your communities arts vibrancy, please contact us to discuss your needs.

How were the sector groups defined?

We examined the data to see whether some arts and cultural disciplines hold similar enough characteristics to group them together into Sectors for purposes of our analysis. For example, should all museums be studied together or are there significant enough differences to warrant a separate look at art museums versus other museums (e.g., history, science, children's museums, etc.) in each analysis? Some sectors clustered but some stand out as unique enough to report on separately. The number of sectors and their clustering may change in future reports as we add data.

The National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) system is used by the IRS and NCCS to classify nonprofit organizations into sectors. Organizations self-report their NTEE as part of the Cultural Data Profile survey. The NCCS website gives an excellent summary description of what NTEEs are and how they came about: If an organization has a parent organization, we opted for their arts sector NTEE (e.g., performing arts center) rather than their parent organization's NTEE (e.g., university), if available. “Arts and Culture” is one of the NTEE's 10 major groups of tax-exempt organizations (the “A” category), and within Arts and Culture there are 10 subcategories that contain 30 additional subdivisions.

We came up with 11 distinct categories of arts and cultural sectors.

  • Arts Education: Arts Education/Schools (A25) and Performing Arts Schools (A6E)
  • Art Museums: Art Museums (A51)
  • Community: Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20), Cultural & Ethnic Awareness (A23), Folk Arts (A24), Arts & Humanities Councils/Agencies (A26), Community Celebrations (A27), Visual Arts (A40)
  • Dance: Dance (A62) and Ballet (A63)
  • Music: Music (A68), Singing & Choral Groups (A6B), and Bands & Ensembles (A6C)
  • Opera: Opera (A6A)
  • Performing Arts Centers: Performing Arts Centers (A61)
  • Symphony Orchestra: Symphony Orchestras (A69)
  • Theater: Theater (A65)
  • Other Museums: Museums & Museum Activities (A50), Children's Museums (A52), History Museums (A54), Natural History & Natural Science Museums (A56), and Science & Technology Museums (A57)
  • General Performing Arts: Performing Arts (A60)

While we do not report separately on Arts Alliances and Services Organizations, we do provide these organizations with their own sector in the DataArts KIPI Dashboard. These are organizations with the following NTEE Codes: Alliances & Advocacy (A01), Management & Technical Assistance (A02), Professional Societies & Associations (A03), Fund Raising & Fund Distribution (A12).

One additional category -- Miscellaneous - captures all organizations that did not fit into one of the categories above. This sector includes everything from Film Festivals to Humanities and Historical Organizations.