Since 2010, the Flinn Foundation has supported the Arizona activities of SMU DataArts in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and a host of additional statewide funders from the private and public sectors. Arizona became the ninth state to join the collaborative organization (then known as DataArts), which aims to strengthen the nonprofit arts and culture sector through the collection and dissemination of data that supports fact-based decision-making, and is considered a national model program.
In 2018, DataArts announced that it was merging with the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University, to form SMU DataArts “to strengthen the national arts and cultural community through data, the knowledge that can be generated from it, and the resources to use it.”
The network is based on a powerful online management tool that collects and disseminates standardized financial and organizational data from each participating organization. The data collection allows participating organizations to access financial and technical reports, free consulting resources, and comparative data and benchmarking services.
SMU DataArts aims to help arts and culture organizations improve their financial management and community services. It also assists researchers, advocates, and policymakers in telling the story of the sector’s contributions and needs, and enables funders to more effectively plan and evaluate individual and collective grantmaking activities.
Groups of all sizes are encouraged to participate; to date, more than 400 arts and culture organizations have contributed audited financial detail through SMU DataArts’s Cultural Data Profile in Arizona. The Arizona Commission on the Arts serves as the local liaison for the national DataArts.