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.

The first phase of this three-year project was completed in June 2009, which involved compilation of a database and a taxonomy of projects, and selection of 50 project sites for more detailed study. Phase Two of the project includes interviews with the executive directors of the 50 organizations selected in the sample and collection and compilation of extensive supplemental data on these organizations. Phase Three is the development of four representative case studies of building projects launched since 2006. Both Phase Two and Three will provide a more detailed and contextualized understanding of the impact of such infrastructure projects on the cultural organizations themselves. In order to study the spill-over effects of big building projects, Phase Four involves conducting a community survey in cities where a large building project took place. We have interviewed approximately 40-60 directors of organizations in 13 cities.

The research team for this project includes Norman Bradburn and Carroll Joynes at the Cultural Policy Center, Bruce Seaman at Georgia State University, Robert Gertner at the University of Chicago, Peter Frumkin at the University of Texas, Joanna Woronkowicz at NORC and the University of Chicago, and Anastasia Kolendo at the University of Texas.

Carroll Joynes and the CPC's cultural infrastructure research were featured in a December 2009 article in the New York Times examining cultural institutions that overbuilt during the boom years.

New York Times: In the Arts, Bigger Buildings May Not Be Better

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