Lightning Round: Research Round-Up

Friday, June 15, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

The annual tradition continues with lightning-fast research summaries from some of the best new research of the year! Moderated by Americans for the Arts' Randy Cohen, this is a can't-miss selection of new arts research!

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear disparate new research, including on philanthropy in the South, the "permaculture" of the arts, disruptive philanthropy, creative placemaking, and equity in funding.
  2. Explore interconnections with the presenters, and brainstorm what the findings mean to your work.
  3. Learn about what new research is emerging, and what to expect.

Presentation Slides



Anne Gadwa Nicodemus
Principal & CEO
Metris Arts Consulting
Easton, Pennsylvania

Anne Gadwa Nicodemus is a leading voice in the intersection of arts and community development. She has advanced the discourse on arts-based community development through reports and journal articles including, “Creative Placemaking” (Mayors’ Institute on City Design), which helped to define the field. Nicodemus is principal and CEO of Metris Arts Consulting, which provides planning, research, and evaluation to reveal arts’ impacts and help communities equitably improve cultural vitality. Recent Metris projects span a case study of how a creative space in Zimbabwe fosters activism to a planning process that integrates arts and culture into the work of a community development organization with 250 affiliates. Since 2012, Nicodemus has been recognized as one of the nation’s 50 most influential people in nonprofit arts in WESTAF’s annual peer-nominated list.

Ron Ragin
Artist | Organizer | Consultant
Ron Ragin Cultural Projects
New Orleans, Louisiana

Ron Ragin is a researcher, strategist, organizer, and interdisciplinary artist. He has worked in the field of arts and cultural philanthropy for more than a decade, most recently as inaugural program officer for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, where he helped develop new grantmaking programs at the intersection of arts and social change. Prior, he was program officer in the Performing Arts Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Alongside his research and strategy work, Ron sustains a vibrant performance and creative writing practice, rooted in music of the African Diaspora, improvisation, liberation aesthetics, and the development and maintenance of spiritual technologies. He has received support from Alternate ROOTS, MAP Fund, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Theatre Communications Group. Ron lives in New Orleans, makes a mean red velvet cake, and can throw down on some biscuits.

Laura Zabel
Executive Director
Springboard for the Arts
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, which operates Creative Exchange, a national platform for sharing free toolkits, resources, and profiles to help artists and citizens collaborate on replicating successful and engaging community projects. An economic and community development agency run by and for artists, Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists.

Zabel is currently a creative placemaking policy fellow at Arizona State University and a Business Alliance for Local Lived Economies fellow. Zabel serves on the board of directors of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice and the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers.

Randy Cohen
Vice President of Research and Policy
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Randy Cohen is Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, the nation's advocacy organization for the arts. A member of the staff since 1991, Randy stands out as a noted expert in the field of arts funding, research, policy, and using the arts to address community development issues. He recently published Americans Speak Out About the Arts, a national study about the public’s opinions and participation in the arts. He publishes The National Arts Index, the annual measure of the health and vitality of arts as well as the two premier economic studies of the arts industry—Arts & Economic Prosperity, the national impact study of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences; and Creative Industries, an annual mapping study of the nation’s 703,000 arts establishments and their employees. Randy led the development of the National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual convening of leaders who focus on the advancement of American culture, launched in 2006 in partnership with Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute. His 10 Reasons to Support the Arts Blog recently received the Gold Award from the Association of Media & Publishing—their top honor for best blog post of the year. In the late 1990’s, Randy collaborated with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to create Coming Up Taller, the White House report on arts programs for youth-at-risk; and the U.S. Department of Justice to produce the YouthARTS Project, the first national study to statistically document the impact of arts programs on at-risk youth. A sought after speaker, Randy has given speeches in 49 states, and regularly appears in the news media—including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on C-SPAN, CNN, CNBC, and NPR.

Amber Hamilton
Chief Operating and Strategy Officer
Memphis Music Initiative
Memphis, Tennessee

Amber Hamilton is a seasoned leader, coach and trainer with expertise in leadership strategies and nonprofit management. She started her career and honed her toughness in professional sports management, first as an intern for the NFL, then moving on to eventually become the Assistant Director of Player Development for the NFL Players Association. Amber discovered her passion for community service and redirected her career to focus on working with community organizations and NGO’s. She has worked at Fannie Mae's Office of Community Giving and led affiliate relations for national nonprofit Rebuilding Together. She currently serves as the Chief Operating and Strategy Officer for the Memphis Music Initiative, an equity focused organization providing music engagement activities for black and brown youth. Amber has a B. A. in political science from Howard University, a master’s degree in executive leadership from Georgetown University, and a certification in executive coaching from Georgetown.

Bronwyn Mauldin
Director of Research & Evaluation
LA County Arts Commission
Los Angeles, California

Bronwyn Mauldin is Director of Research and Evaluation at the LA County Arts Commission where she oversees a team that utilizes data and research methods to improve the Arts Commission’s work and strengthen the arts ecology. Bronwyn has spent her career conducting applied research and evaluation for nonprofits, philanthropies, and government. She also teaches research methods to arts management students at Sotheby’s Institute of Art at Claremont Graduate University. Prior to the Arts Commission, Bronwyn evaluated farmworker programs in California’s Central Valley, studied employment conditions for truck drivers in the Pacific Northwest, analyzed apprenticeship opportunities in the healthcare industry, served as a nonpartisan policy analyst in the Washington State House of Representatives and researched villager organizing in rural northeast Thailand. Bronwyn has a master’s in public administration from the University of Washington. She is also a zine maker and novelist.

Maria Cherry Rangel
Cultural Strategist
New Orleans, Louisiana

MarĂ­a Cherry Rangel is a New Orleans based cultural organizer, philanthropy strategist, and dance artist. Her organizing and advocacy is focused on building spaces for the most marginalized to create work, and redirecting resources to communities of color as a matter of justice. As Co-Founder of Mangos with Chili (2006-16), she developed the work of over 150 queer and trans artists of color, initiated dialogue around bias in arts funding and practice, and ushered in a new era of possibility for QTPOC centered arts and culture. She has led several efforts to help arts funders move towards more equitable funding practices, including serving as the inaugural Equity Auditor for the 2017 MAP Fund grants panel, co-authoring Ford Foundation's Arts and Culture Scan of the South report (forthcoming), and leading Foundation for Louisiana's arts and culture strategy.

Zannie Giraud Voss
Director, SMU National Center for Arts Research Chair and Professor, Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship
Meadows School of the Arts & Cox School of Business
Dallas, Texas

Dr. Zannie Voss is Director of the National Center for Arts Research as well as Professor of Arts Management in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business at SMU. Previously she was a Professor at Duke University and Producing Director of Theater Previews at Duke, a professional theater company dedicated to the co-production of new works.  She served as managing director of PlayMakers Repertory Company, associate manager of the Alley Theatre, and worked in audience development for Center Theatre Group.  Research consulting clients include the League of American Orchestras, the Irvine Foundation, Theatre Development Fund and Theatre Communications Group, where she has co-authored Theatre Facts since 1998.  Her published research on the strategic factors that influence organizational performance appears in over a dozen academic and practitioner journals.

She serves on the boards of the International Association of Arts and Cultural Management, DataArts, TRG Arts, TACA, and Big Thought.  She is co-author of the book Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play.