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SMU's National Center for Arts Research launches free, diagnostic dashboard
Organizations will also be able to track their KIPI performance trends on each index over a five-year period, see the index-related data they entered in the CDP each year that generated those KIPIs, and see what their performance would have had to have been in order to increase the scores by 10 points.


DALLAS, TX.- SMU’s National Center for Arts Research launched the KIPI Dashboard, a free online diagnostic tool that allows arts organizations to see their individual performance in nine finance and operations categories, compared to similar organizations nationally. Organizations can access confidential and individual scores on how they rank relative to their peers on multiple factors in the categories of contributed revenue, earned revenue, expenses, marketing impact, bottom line, balance sheet, community engagement, program activity and staffing. The scores can help organizations assess their health and sustainability and inform strategic decisions.

The Dashboard uses data from the last five years for nearly 8,000 arts and cultural organizations around the country, across industry types and sizes. Each organization’s scores are based on a level playing field that takes into account not only that organization’s sector (such as whether it is a theater or dance company), but its age, budget size, location, and many other key factors. A sample of the Dashboard can be seen here.

“The SMU Meadows School created NCAR to assess the health and stability of the arts sector by compiling and analyzing the most comprehensive set of data ever assembled on the arts industry. The KIPI Dashboard is the next evolution of NCAR – providing a free resource that allows arts organizations to look at their own performance relative to the field,” said Sam Holland, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts. “The Dashboard is the only tool of its kind, providing arts organizations with the personalized, evidence-based findings they need to help them make strategic decisions that strengthen their institutions.”

NCAR Director Zannie Voss said, “In order for arts organizations to thrive, they cannot operate in isolation as they are impacted by changes in the field and in their communities. By factoring in external variables such as a community’s characteristics, as well as the organization’s age, arts sector, budget size, square footage, whether it primarily targets a particular culturally specific audience, and other operational specifics, we have created as level a playing field as possible for examining organizational health. Organizations will now be able to easily measure their performance in the most crucial financial and operating areas relative to their peers in similar markets. The Dashboard allows arts leaders to decide which performance indices are top priorities and determine from their scores whether they are performing well on these measures, or whether they have room for improvement. Dashboard scores can be valuable information to share with boards, staff, funders and other key stakeholders. They are a tool that helps focus resources where they are most needed, celebrate areas of success, and enable arts and cultural leaders to overcome challenges and increase impact.”

The KIPI Dashboard Scores
KIPI stands for Key Intangible Performance Indicators. The Dashboard scores measure both tangible factors that affect performance, such as an organization’s age and marketing budget, and intangible factors, such as good decision-making and artistic expertise. Intangible factors cannot be easily observed and measured, yet all organizations know how important they are. NCAR uses a statistical technique called “high performance frontier analysis” that estimates how much these intangibles play a role in setting an organization apart from others. This is a method that has helped many other industries understand high performance and the best practices that drive it.

The NCAR KIPI Dashboard draws its performance data from DataArts’ Cultural Data Profile (CDP), a standardized online form that cultural nonprofits nationwide use to submit information on their annual financial and programmatic activity. Organizations that submit their data to DataArts will be able to access a score for each of the nine indices, illustrating where their organization’s strengths and challenges lie. Each score is based on a level playing field and shows how an organization has performed relative to the field in percentile terms, i.e. a score of 60 means an organization performed better than 60% of similar organizations on that index. Dashboard scores are confidential and each organization can only access its own scores. Organizations not currently part of the DataArts database may add their company information using the DataArts platform. Once their data has been entered into the system and processed, they will be able to access their Dashboard scores.

The KIPI Dashboard scores are based on fiscal year data and each of the nine general areas are broken down to include more specific information.

Organizations will also be able to track their KIPI performance trends on each index over a five-year period, see the index-related data they entered in the CDP each year that generated those KIPIs, and see what their performance would have had to have been in order to increase the scores by 10 points.






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