DOI: 10.18536/bcce.2018.

Jump to: Business Creativity and the Creative Economy | Volume 4

The Characteristics and Contributions of Arts Organization Founders

Angie L. Miller
Indiana University Bloomington

Rachel Skaggs
Vanderbilt University

Amber D. Dumford
University of South Florida

Miller, A. L., Skaggs, R., & Dumford, A. D. (2018). The Characteristics and Contributions of Arts Organization Founders. Business Creativity and the Creative Economy, 4, 63-75. https://doi.org/10.18536/bcce.2018.


In this fluctuating and uncertain economy, individuals with arts degrees may be looking to carve out a niche for themselves through founding arts-related organizations. These organizations are poised to impact not only cultural policy and creative industries, but also community arts engagement. This study used data from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), an online alumni survey designed to obtain knowledge of arts education, to explore characteristics of arts organization founders, and the many ways in which these individuals contribute to the arts community. The participants were 92,113 alumni from 153 different arts high schools, undergraduate, and graduate colleges or arts programs within larger universities. The measures for this study included a set of items indicating ways of supporting the arts over the past 12 months, as well as demographic and career questions. A series of chi-square analyses indicated that older, non-white, male respondents who had an artist parent and studied the performing arts were more likely to be founders of arts organizations. Logistic regression analyses controlling for related demographic and career variables found those founding arts-related organizations were more likely to support the arts in a variety of ways, including volunteering, serving on boards, and donating money, and they were also more likely to make or perform art in their personal (not work-related) time. The findings provide support for the notion that founding an arts organization may be an optimal career pathway for people who face barriers within traditional employment, or conversely for those who can benefit from existing social capital. The findings also affirm the importance of arts organization founders to their wider arts communities.