Arts and cultural organizations in Michigan are facing enormous challenges--both public and private sector funding are way down, many art lovers are forced to be frugal with their disposable income, and even the very value of supporting arts and culture is up for debate. It's not like there are many people out there who think that having museums, theaters, and non-profit cultural organizations around is a bad thing. However, how much does the average bear working outside the sector really know about what it needs to function at full capacity? Just how much do these organizations really benefit the economy as a whole? The word on the street among arts and cultural organizers and their advocates is that there is a great need for more data.
Michigan has become the eighth state to launch a state-wide Cultural Data Project (CDP) this month, as reported by ArtServe Michigan - a cultural advocacy organization and one of the leaders of the initiative along with twelve more participating leaders and funders. The Michigan CDP is an online management tool, which supposes that "Building Strength Through Information" can lead to greater cultural economic development throughout the state.
How does it work? According to the Michigan CDP website; "Arts and cultural organizations enter financial, programmatic and operational data into a standardized online form and can then use the CDP to produce a variety of reports designed to help increase management capacity, identify strengths and challenges and inform decision-making. They can also generate reports to be included as part of the application processes of participating grant-makers. This emerging national standard enables participating organizations to track trends and benchmark their progress through powerful reporting tools, empowers researches and advocates with information to make the case for arts and culture, and equips funders with data to plan and evaluate grant-making activities more effectively."
From now through October, 2010, the Michigan CDP is holding Training Sessions all over the state - designed to teach arts and cultural organizations how to use the new reporting system. Otherwise, you can learn more about it by visiting their Online Training website.