Researchers in NORC's Bethesda office
NORC conference room and teleconference NORC library in Chicago Loop office NORC's Academic Research Center is located on the campus of the University of Chicago Capital dome in fall NORC Office in Hyde Park

Cultural Policy Center

​The Cultural Policy Center (CPC) is a nationally recognized, joint initiative of the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and NORC and is dedicated to researching and understanding the most significant issues affecting arts and culture from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.

Founded in 1999, the CPC serves as an incubator for new ways of understanding arts and culture, particularly how they work, and how they are informed and affected by policies in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Center’s expertise is drawn from collaborations with faculty and students throughout the University of Chicago and with researchers and cultural sector leaders across the globe.

The Center’s work is informed by a commitment to the following:

  • Developing research that provides the basis for informed policy decisions affecting cultural institutions, activities, and markets.
  • Generating policy options for cultural administrators and policymakers.
  • Preparing students of public policy for careers in the cultural sector.
  • Developing future researchers and scholars in the field of cultural policy research.

Advancing public dialogue on policy and culture issues of the day.

The CPC draws upon the expertise of the University of Chicago faculty and graduate student researchers, as well as other national and international scholars and cultural sector leaders. Given the Center’s position at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, law, and policy, we have worked with a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars who use multiple methodologies for studies that have included cultural policy at the state level, the arts workforce, arts censorship, cultural amenities, economic impact analyses, and contingent valuation methodology.

The CPC’s CultureLab initiative exemplifies the thought leadership role that the Center plays in the arts community. Convened by the CPC, CultureLab is an innovative partnership with a consortium of 12 leading international arts consultants and the Cultural Policy Center, organized to spur innovative and critical thinking in the field, to facilitate and support experimentation among arts and culture organizations and individuals, and to develop and implement relevant, objective research in and for the cultural sector.

Areas of Expertise

  • Culture
  • Arts and Humanities
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Architecture and Buildings

 Major Capabilities


  • Program and Policy Analysis and Research
    • Evaluation
  • Dissemination

Representative Projects

Cultural Infrastructure in the United States. The Cultural Policy Center's largest continuing project is the research funded by the Kresge, Mellon, and MacArthur foundations on "Cultural Infrastructure in the United States," a national study of the organizational decisions behind, implementation strategies for, and consequences of the building boom in museums, theaters, and performing arts centers in the U.S. between 1994 and 2008. It is the first comprehensive analysis of cultural building in the United States to be carried out at this scale and depth. More

Teaching Artists Research Project (TARP). There have been remarkable advances in arts education, both in and out of schools, over the last fifteen years, despite a challenging policy environment. Teaching artists, the hybrid professionals that link the arts to education and community life, are the creative resource behind much of this innovation.The Teaching Artists Research Project (TARP) deepens our understanding of world of teaching artists through studies in twelve communities, and it will inform policy designed to make their work sustainable, more effective, and more meaningful.  More

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Learn more at the Cultural Policy Center website.


Betty Farrell

(773) 256-6326