January 8, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 7

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    Cultural Policy Center now based at NORC

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The University’s Cultural Policy Center—a nationally recognized program dedicated to informing policies that affect the arts, humanities and cultural heritage—will now operate as a joint initiative of the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the National Opinion Research Center at the University. It will be based in NORC’s Academic Research Centers.

    In 1999, D. Carroll Joynes and Lawrence Rothfield formed the Cultural Policy Center as a joint project of the Harris School and the Division of the Humanities. Joynes, former Associate Dean of the Division of the Humanities, and Rothfield, Associate Professor in English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature, guided the center as it built a portfolio of projects that examine cultural policy at local, state, national and international levels.

    The Cultural Policy Center’s latest research projects include Antiquities Under Siege, a book on how to prevent the looting of antiquities during wartime, and Entering Cultural Communities, which examines how American nonprofit arts organizations are diversifying their audiences, building new relationships with their local communities and creating new consumer markets for arts experiences and products.

    Other recent work includes two Chicago-based studies—a project that mapped participation in the city’s cultural institutions and an analysis of the Chicago music scene and its role in the city’s economy. The center also has sponsored conferences on major cultural policy issues of interest, including the future of public television, and has developed curricula in cultural policy for graduate students throughout the University.

    “Our experiences have demonstrated that the Cultural Policy Center would benefit from partnering with a larger research organization that can provide a bigger pool of staff members with administrative and research experience,” said Joynes, Executive Director of the center. “This would allow us the flexibility to undertake the larger empirical research projects we hope to take on in the next phase of our development. Associating with NORC’s Academic Research Centers is ideally suited to addressing this need,” said Joynes.

    Known since its founding in 1941 as the National Opinion Research Center, NORC’s mission is to conduct high-quality social science research in the public interest. It is one of the nation’s premier research organizations that surveys and analyzes public opinion and other issues.

    The first project of the new affiliation between the Cultural Policy Center and NORC will be a large study of the nation’s cultural infrastructure. “This project is the Center’s direct response to the ongoing boom in building projects taken on by American museums and performing arts groups,” said Joynes. “For several years, we have been hearing that construction projects are creating enormous debt, donor fatigue and even bankruptcy for arts organizations that thought these projects would carry them to the next level and make them stronger.”

    The study will gather data on major building projects in the cultural sector, conduct a survey of cultural infrastructure projects, study the decision-making processes leading up to them, and perform an economic analysis of their impact on the cultural institutions within those cities. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation provided initial funding for the study. The Smart Family Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and the Irving Harris Foundation provided early support for project development.

    Joynes, Executive Director since 2001, and Norman Bradburn, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and Senior Fellow at NORC, will head the Cultural Policy Center, until a national search for a permanent director concludes.