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Making a Joyful Noise: The Potential Role of Music Making in the Well-Being of Young Families

Making Joyfull Noise
Dennie Palmer Wolf
Lea Wolf
Carrie Tatum
Steven Holochwost
Kaamya Varagur
Kate Anderson
Sanuja Goonetilleke

Commissioned by the Bernard van Leer Foundation

Published June, 2020

This research report from WolfBrown and the Bernard van Leer Foundation combines a comprehensive literature and landscape review that highlights the value, impact and scaling potential of music and sustainable music interventions/programs throughout the world.

Understanding and harnessing the value of music provides a multitude of opportunities for supporting child development, child-caregiver bonds and overall family well-being in an inclusive and human way. The paper also provides clear action steps for organizations and governments interested in investing in music across a range of areas (public health, early learning and education, community planning and design and arts and culture) that influence early childhood development and caregiver mental health.

Access the full report here. 

California Assembly Bill 5 and Worker Misclassification: Their Effects on Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations

White Paper CA AB 5

Victoria Plettner-Saunders and Arlene Yang

Published November, 2019

In January California Assembly Bill 5 was enacted. Also known as the “gig worker bill” it codified a state Supreme Court decision regarding worker classification. Almost every arts organization in the state has been impacted by AB 5 and we are just beginning to see the effects of the reclassifications of independent contractors to employee status on many of them. California Arts Advocates has been working closely with the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, to create amendments that could lessen the impacts to the sector, but there is little chance that it will be fully repealed. In November, as arts organizations’ boards and staff were trying to make sense out of the legislation, Victoria Plettner-Saunders worked with San Diego employment attorney Arlene Yang to write California Assembly Bill 5 and Worker Misclassification: Their Effects on Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations in an effort to inform the field as to what lay ahead.

Download the white paper here

Qualitative Impact FrameworkCCAQualitativeImpactFramework

Alan Brown, John Carnwath, and James Doeser
Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts

Published December, 2019

Across many developed economies, there is a drive to measure the impact generated by the arts. Governments wish to measure the impacts of their investments, funders seek to spend finite resources in the most appropriate ways, and artists and cultural organizations want to understand and maximize the impact of their work on communities.

In late 2017, the Canada Council for the Arts contracted WolfBrown to develop a framework for measuring the intrinsic impacts generated by the Council’s funding.

The Impact Framework is intended to:
  • provide the Canada Council with a blueprint for gathering evidence of the impact of its investments in artists and organizations;
  • support artists and organizations to understand and articulate the impact of their work;
  • support critical self-reflection and inform the Canada Council’s future strategic decision making; 
  • forge partnerships to deepen the sector’s understanding of the impact of the arts in the short term and long term.
Canada’s government and society are in many ways distinct from other societies. This reality and the associated complexities made it essential to create a unique impact framework for the Canada Council. For instance, education is the purview of the Provincial governments in Canada, so arts educations—which might be a central area of impact for other government funders—falls outside of the Canada Council’s mandate, and thus is not included in the Framework. Nonetheless, many principles and approaches outlined in the Framework may also apply in other funding contexts.

The Framework recognizes that impacts occur on a continuum of attribution by distinguishing between upstream and downstream impacts. Upstream impacts are those most directly related to the Council’s funding– such as increased capacity of artists and organizations. Downstream impacts result from peoples’ experience of the art. The Council cannot take full credit for the downstream impact of the work on audiences and communities as it is clear that many people and many funders contribute to the grantees’ successes.

Ultimately, the Framework suggests that the story of the Canada Council’s intrinsic impact can be understood as an intertwining set of narratives stemming from its portfolio of grant programs and strategic commitments.

Download the report here

Visit the Canada Council for the Arts' website for more information on the Framework. 

Teaching Artist Companion to Aesthetic PerspectivesTeaching Artist Companion

Dennie Palmer Wolf and Jeannette Rodríguez Píneda with contributing teaching artists 

Published May, 2019

Americans for the Arts has published the Teaching Artist Companion to Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change. The publication was developed by Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, in collaboration with WolfBrown.

The Teaching Artist Companion — written by Dennie Palmer Wolf and Jeannette Rodríguez Píneda with contributing teaching artists — shares how teaching artists, and the programs and institutions that support them, embody and activate the values in the Aesthetic Perspectives framework.

Teaching artists are engaging a next generation in making art as a way to ask questions, imagine new possibilities, and promote action for positive change in their communities. Such “Arts for Change” requires teaching artists to develop cultural competencies, responsive teaching strategies, and skills in community-based and socially engaged artistic practices. It also calls for a shared language for describing this work that enables others — who may be new to its values and strategies — to understand and assess it fully and fairly.

The Aesthetic Perspectives framework describes 11 attributes that heighten the potency and effectiveness of Arts for Change — creative work at the intersection of community development, civic engagement, and social change. Attributes such as cultural integrity, communal meaning, disruption, and risk-taking provide a lens to understand what is distinctive about Arts for Change as an approach to teaching and learning. The framework was developed by artists and allied funders and evaluators who participated in the 2014–2015 Evaluation Learning Lab led by Animating Democracy.

The Companion offers:
  • Examples of creative projects with youth implemented by teaching artists working in Queens, New York that describe Arts for Change intent, on-the-ground practice, the aesthetic attributes in play, and questions to guide teaching artists’ practice
  • Examples of the work of program designers, organization leaders, and evaluators who support teaching artists working in the arena of Arts for Change
  • An observation rubric for assessing processes and quality practices that promote student growth, contribute to effectiveness in teaching artistry, and programs focusing on Arts for Change
The Teaching Artist Companion supports artists who work with youth in K–12 programs in and out of school and the institutional leaders who support their work, but also informs funders, researchers, evaluators, and policy makers in the field of creative youth development.

Click here to read the full report.


Liberating Academic Mindsets Through Culturally Responsive 
Arts Liberating Academic MindsetsIntegration

WolfBrown and MEMconsultants

Published May, 2019

Arts Corps’ Highline Creative Schools Initiative (HCSI) Report shares the intentions, implementation, and results of a multi-year Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) project. Through the project, a substantial partnership was developed between Arts Corps and the Highline School District, a region just south of Seattle, Washington. In the associated evaluation, we worked with researchers to examine the impact that partnerships between classroom teachers and teaching artists have on 5th and 6th grade students’ academic mindsets and behaviors, school climate, and their transition to middle school. During the grant period, HCSI delivered high quality, social justice-oriented arts integration to all 5th and 6th graders in four public schools. The project included professional development on academic mindsets, arts integration, and race and social justice for all participating teachers. The research included eight elementary schools, four as treatment schools that hosted Arts Corps in all 5th and 6th grade classes for three years, and four as comparison schools that participated in all research measures but did not experience Arts Corps programming in 5th and 6th grade.

Findings show that the students in the four treatment schools exhibited higher levels of learner behaviors, strengthened their academic mindsets and increased their ELA and math test scores when compared to students at the four control schools. These impacts were particularly marked for young people whom the district characterized as needing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) due to any of a range of disabilities. This study shows that carefully planned, culturally responsive arts integration and thoughtful collaboration between teaching artists and classroom teachers can help close the achievement gap faced by students from marginalized communities, like those in the Highline School District.

Click here to read the full report.


Music Learning as Youth DevelopmentMaking Music, Promoting Development: The Power of Practice

Dennie Palmer Wolf, Steven Holochwost, and Judith Hill Bose

Published June, 2019

Music Learning as Youth Development explores how music education programs can contribute to young people’s social, emotional, cognitive, and artistic capacities in the context of life-long musical development. International scholars argue that MLYD programs should focus in particular on the curiosity, energy and views of young people affecting the teachers, musicians, pedagogy, programs, and music with which young people interact. From fields of progressive music education, authors share their perspectives on approaches that can lead to new ways of enabling youth learners as they transition to adulthood.

A vast range of possible outcomes arising from in-school, afterschool, and community-based music programs are examined in order to highlight the aspects of youth development that music learning is particularly well-suited to support. Following an introductory essay that provides new perspectives on pursuing lifelong musical development, the volume features two primary sections. The first focuses on case studies exploring several programs through the lens of the transitional stages of music learning as youth development, helping the reader understand key concepts and explore challenges for creating music learning as youth development programs. The chapter by Dennie Palmer Wolf, Steven Holochwost, and Judith Hill Bose, "Making Music, Promoting Development: The Power of Practice" can be found in section one. The second section addresses the broad implications and policy issues of programs described, including discussing why music learning should be conceived of as critical to formative stages of youth development that can lead to a productive and fulfilling life. The conclusion synthesizes the range of perspectives provided by eight contributors and offers implications for life-long human development through music in the 21st century.

Click here to purchase the volume.


Quality Review BinderQuality Review Panel Binder

Big Thought

Published February 2019

This binder was designed to help members of Thriving Minds’ creative learning review panel work towards two goals:

1) Continue to refine a set of tools to create a picture of programmatic quality that Thriving Minds partners
produce, support and/or offer to the children of Dallas.

2) Assess current strengths and determine investments needed to build a city-wide system of programs for
students that deepen their creative learning in and out of school time.

The Quality Review Panel Binder can be accessed here. 


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Performing Arts Ticket Buyer Media Usage Study

Capacity Interactive

Published December, 2017

In a rapidly changing media environment it can be dif cult for performing arts organizations to keep up with ever-evolving audience behavior. While it is clear that their patrons’ interests, media habits, and communications preferences are changing, it’s not always evident how they are changing, and data speci c to performing arts buyers has been dif cult to come by. Many organizations, particularly smaller ones, don’t have the necessary resources to commission extensive market research, and it’s often questionable whether the trends in media habits and online behavior observed in studies of the general population apply to performing arts audiences, who are, after all, a self-selecting and somewhat exceptional sub-group within the population.

Through an innovative partnership, Capacity Interactive and WolfBrown sought to address this gap by producing a de nitive report on the media habits of performing arts patrons in the US and Canada. Beyond general media usage patterns, we have sought to determine through which channels patrons are most likely to learn about upcoming performing arts events and which devices they use in the information gathering and purchasing processes.

Capacity Interactive and WolfBrown are pleased to present new data-driven insights on ticket buyers for performing arts events. The results are based on almost 27,000 responses to an online survey from patrons of 58 performing arts organizations across the US and Canada. This white paper presents key ndings from WolfBrown’s analysis of the data along with insights from Capacity Interactive that suggest practical applications for digital marketing.

Click here to download the report.


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Building Strengths, Buffering Risk:
Evaluating the Effects of El Sistema-Inspired Music Programs in the United States

Dr. Steven Holochwost, WolfBrown
Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, WolfBrown
Dr. Judith Hill Bose, Longy School of Music of Bard College

Published October, 2017

Longy School of Music of Bard College and WolfBrown formed a strategic partnership to carry out a pilot exploration followed by a two-year study of the impact of El Sistema-inspired programs for the children they serve. The research team invited proposals from programs across the country and formed a consortium of sites that represent a range of geographical and program diversity. In the planning year (2014-15), a core set of common measures was collaboratively designed and piloted. In 2015-16, researchers gathered the first set of year-long data using these measures. In 2016-17, the team collected a second year of data using the common measures and analyzed the full two-year set. This report focuses in on the musical and socioemotional impact of becoming a young musician in an El Sistema-inspired ensemble.

This research was made possible by funding from The Buck Family Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Click here to download the report.


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In Order to Flourish:
Musical Pathways, Opportunities to Build and Questions to Ask

Dennie Palmer Wolf, WolfBrown
Dalouge Smith, San Diego Youth Symphony

This document sketches out the processes that support -- and challenge -- young musicians seeking to enter the field of classical music, from early childhood through young adult professional lives. This work is the result of a number of converging events and efforts: a national study of ElSistemainspired orchestras in the U.S. and a Mellon Foundation meeting in December 2015 that addressed the issue of diversity in American orchestras, at which time Dennie Palmer Wolf of WolfBrown and Dalouge Smith of the San Diego Youth Symphony volunteered to create a developmental map of the trajectories of young musicians in the field of classical music.

Click here to download the complete document.

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Lullaby: Being Together, Being Well

Dennie Palmer Wolf, WolfBrown
For Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute
Published May 2017

Since 2011, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute has pioneered a lullaby program that pairs skilled musicians with expectant or recent mothers, many of whom are raising young families under stressful conditions: single parenthood, temporary housing, or incarceration. This report shares early, qualitative findings from 10 lullaby projects in the New York City region. The report, Lullaby: Being Together, Being Well, calls on cultural organizations to invest in the well-being of young families. Despite our material wealth and medical know-how, as a nation we rank among the poorest performing nations when it comes to maternal and infant health. Read what the Lullaby Project has been able to accomplish and consider what your organization might do to change these harsh realities. 


Click here to download the full report.

For more on Carnegie Hall's Lullaby Project, visit

Watch the Lullaby Project Celebration Concert Livestream on Facebook on January 17th, at 2pm EST.

Lullaby Celebration Concert

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The Socioemotional Benefits of the Arts: 
A New Mandate for Arts Education

Steven J. Holochwost
Dennie Palmer Wolf

Kelly R. Fisher
Kerry O'Grady
Science of Learning Institute
Johns Hopkins University

Published December 15, 2016

New research, commissioned by the William Penn Foundation and conducted by WolfBrown and Johns Hopkins University, examines the impact and potential benefits of the arts on students and suggests that participation in the arts supports the development of specific traits that can help students achieve future success. The study also explores students' engagement in school in relation to their access to arts education.

- Mezzacappa, Dale (2017, April 20). Quantifying the benefits of arts educationPhiladelphia Public School Notebook (

The summary report
The full report

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Community MusicWorks: Community-Centric Concert Series Evaluation

Sharing Tables with Strangers: Strengthening neighborhoods through community centric concerts in the West End of Providence

Chloë Kline and Dennie Wolf
Published July 2016

Community MusicWorks, a neighborhood-embedded education and
Can classical music concerts strengthen neighborhoods? This fundamental question guides Community MusicWorks' recent evaluation of a "community-centric concert series" in its home neighborhoods of the West End and South Side of Providence, RI. With a grant from ArtPlace America, CMW was able to investigate these questions:
  • How can the long-term presence of a place-based cultural organization impact the neighborhoods that host it?
  • How does an organization with a long history of being deeply embedded in a neighborhood deepen its connection, and widen the circle of its impact?
  • Can such changes be measured, and made visible? If so, how?
  • What does CMW's experience say to the wider field about the role of arts and culture in building cohesive urban communities?
These questions are central to CMW's long-term mission of building cohesive community in urban neighborhoods. They also have implications for the larger field of place-making through the arts, offering insights to organizations interested in building strong, lasting, and impactful partnerships in communities, and in measuring the changes wrought by these relationships.

This evaluation was made possible by funding from ArtPlace America.


Click here to download the PDF


Headline Findings from First Full Year of National Research Study of El Sistema-inspired Programs

Headline Findings from the U.S. National El Sistema Study

Over the past two years, researchers from WolfBrown and Longy School of Music of Bard College have been studying what happens when 3rd-5th graders participate in orchestral learning inspired by the Venezuelan youth musical movement, El Sistema. with funding from the Buck Family and the Andrew W. Mellon foundations, we have completed a pilot year and first year of a longitudinal study. Thanks to the collaboration of ten sites across the U.S., we are excited to announce findings in multiple domains:

  • Successful collective impact research design
  • Field-tested and reliable tools that work across many program designs
  • Youth Impact
    • Major strides in musical learning: Significant growth in the fundamentals of music, like pitch, rhythm, and intonation
    • Increased school success as measured by grades and self-reported data on dimensions like academic behaviors and school engagement
    • Improved socio-emotional learning, especially in the critical area of growth mindset
    • Possible threshold effects: It may take as long as two years for these effects to emerge, highlighting how critical long-term retention in these programs is.

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Chorus America National Study

Assessing the Audience Impact of Choral Music Concerts

Alan Brown, Sean Fenton, Kyle Marinshaw, Rebecca Ratzkin, Jason Tran
Published June 2016

How are audiences affected by live choral music concerts? What can we conclude about the experiences they have? How do their experiences differ? Can we identify drivers of impact?

In 2013, Chorus America initiated discussions with WolfBrown to design a study to answer these questions and build a foundational understanding of the impact of attendance at choral concerts. A total of 23 choruses across North America participated in the study, including a cross section of youth and adult ensembles. Over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, 14,236 audience members at 136 different concert programs completed surveys about their experience.

To our knowledge this is the first national study of audiences for live choral music concerts, and the first attempt to systematically assess the impact of choral concerts on audiences. Results should be interpreted with caution. Although the 23 choruses that participated in the study represent a varied array of choruses and artistic work, they were not selected randomly, but through a field wide application process. Thus, results should not be understood as being representative of the whole choral field.

The study builds on a substantial body of past research conducted by WolfBrown and other researchers investigating the intrinsic impact of live arts programs.

Chorus America, is the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral field. It supports and serves choral conductors, administrators, board members, and singers with tools, training, peer networking, and access so that choruses are better able to contribute to their communities.


Click here to download the PDF

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Community MusicWorks Fellow Program Evaluation

We Are Each Other's Magnitude and Bond: An Evaluation of Community MusicWorks' Extending Our Reach Initiative

Dennie Wolf and Rachel Panitch
Published April 2016

Community MusicWorks, a neighborhood-embedded education and music organization, asked WolfBrown to capture the long-term impact of its Fellows program (a two-year residency in teaching, music-making, and community engagement). Using a participatory evaluation format, we worked closely with CMW staff and former Fellow Rachel Panitch (as a co-researcher with an insider's perspective), to develop a multi-methods approach that included interviews, surveys, and observations. Through this work, we carved out a set of dimensions that captures and communicates the decade-long impact of the Fellowship. Taken together, these dimensions provide substantive measures of the long-term success of CMW's efforts to diversify who participates in classical music, develop a set of practices that can build skills among musicians to engage in social justice issues, and sustain the organizations and individuals who undertake this challenging work. Moreover, these dimensions suggest a framework through which the wider field might begin to gauge the success of other sustained efforts.


Click here to download the PDF


Building Capacity for Audience Research:
Reflections on the Audience Research Collaborative

In 2012, the Performing Arts Program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation extended an invitation to a group of its grantees to participate in a multi-year program to build capacity for audience research. Over a period of two and a half years, a WolfBrown team led by Rebecca Ratzkin provided customized technical assistance to 46 grantees. Building Capacity for Audience Research candidly distills lessons learned from the ARC initiative for other funders who'd contemplate investing in the capacity of their grantees to gather and interpret audience data.

The report is organized thematically:

  • Foreword by John McGuirk, director, Performing Arts Program, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Introduction and Context – argues that today's accountability environment drives nonprofits and their funders to seek out more and more data
  • Research Capacity: To Build or Not to Build? – frames key questions about the benefits and challenges of capacity building
  • Assessing Organizational Readiness for Research T.A. – shares lessons learned from the intake process
  • Establishing a Community of Practice – discusses approaches to cohort learning
  • Promoting a Culture of Learning – focuses on organizational learning, and the associated challenges and successes
  • The Value and Challenges of Collecting Demographic Data – raises issues of cultural competence in audience research and the challenge of collecting standardized demographic data
  • Parting Reflections – summarizes lessons learned
  • Coda: Hewlett's Response to Demographic Results – reflections from Hewlett staff on demographic data in the context of the foundation's commitment to supporting the Bay Area's diverse populations


Why Making Music Matters

Dennie Wolf, working with musicians and staff at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, has published a booklet for families, "Why Making Music Matters". The publication outlines what research tells us about how live music enriches the lives of families and young children. It is richly illustrated and comes with informal recordings of children inventing games, rhymes, and music. The booklet also features exemplary programs that bring live music to young children -- in places as varied as pre-schools, family support programs, and refugee camps.

The full report is available for download for free here. Include the link in your next concert program!

For a summary of findings, take a look at this blog post on the Carnegie Hall website.


Our Voices Count: The Potential Impact of Strength-Based Music Programs in Juvenile Justice Settings

Wolfbrown took on an evaluation of the impact of ensemble choral music-making on young people living in one of the most uncertain and stressful environments: the juvenile justice system. The project evaluated a choral residency program from Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program and was funded through the ArtWorks program at the National Endowment for the Arts. The complete report is available for download here.


    icon pdf Click here to download the full report


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Join the conversation about "Effective Leadership for Nonprofit Organizations" and read Tom Wolf's blog

WolfBrown is pleased to announce another excerpt from Thomas Wolf’s popular new book, Effective Leadership for Nonprofit Organizations: How Executive Directors and Boards Work Together from Allworth Press. Below, we are posting illuminating case histories from the book that can lead to improved management and governance practices.

The book focuses on one key to success in managing a nonprofit -- building strong relationships between an executive director and the trustees and navigating associated personal, political, and legal challenges to an effective partnership. Dozens of case studies illuminate the issues that often impede the progress of nonprofit organizations and show how executive director and trustees can address them. Each chapter also contains a set of questions that enable leaders to reflect on the health of their own organization and also evaluate other nonprofits, as well as to create sustainable, effective business practices and productive working relationships.

Read the blog posts and join the conversation!
>>Read "Blog post #1: Who Controls the Organization"
>>Read "Blog post #2: How the Board can Help an Executive Director Who Has Problems"
>>Read "Blog post #3: Getting the Board to Give - Part I"
>>Read "Blog post #4: Getting the Board to Give - Part II"
>>Read "Blog post #5: Dealing with Bad News: Crafting and Delivering the Message"
>>Read "Blog post #6: Oh No, Not Another Meeting!"
>>Read "Blog post #7: So You Want a Good Board President?"

For single copies of the book, go to For information on discounts on multiple copy orders, email or call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (617-494-9300).

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Managing a Nonprofit Organization: Updated 21st Century Edition (2012)

Completely revised and updated, this book has been popular in nonprofit organizations and in classrooms nationwide since its original publication in 1984. Thomas Wolf guides the reader through all the major elements of a nonprofit organization - board, staff, marketing, finances, fund raising, planning - and discusses the big picture concepts of sustainability and leadership. Step-by-step checklists appear at the end of each chapter to assist the reader in understanding the change landscape of America’s nonprofit organizations.


Available through Amazon.

Jazz Audiences Initiative

Free Resources

With funding support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, WolfBrown completed a large-scale study of jazz audiences in 2011, commissioned by Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, Ohio. Other participants in the research included SFJAZZ, Jazz at Lincoln Center, St. Louis Jazz, Monterey Jazz Festival, Sculler's and the Major University Presenters consortium. Over 4,000 jazz lovers completed the ticket buyer survey, and over 1,000 jazz prospects completed another survey.

Three research reports are available for free download:

  1. A multi-site analysis of jazz ticket buyers: this report compares the ticket buyers from the seven survey sites on a wide ranges of attitudinal and behavioral characteristics.
  2. A segmentation model for jazz ticket buyers: this report offers a new customer segmentation model for jazz ticket buyers, based on a cluster analysis.
  3. A segmentation model for jazz prospects (i.e., music lovers who do not attend jazz concerts with any frequency); this report offers a new prospect model for likely jazz attenders, based on research conducted in Central Ohio.


Shortly after these studies were released, a group of leaders from the jazz field gathered in Columbus to consider the implications of the research and generate ideas for “new or evolved practices that will regenerate the audience for jazz.” Instead of dwelling on all that ails the jazz field, the group focused instead on identifying a small number of practices with the potential to move the field forward, such as:

  • Conceiving the next generation of jazz venues, including temporary uses of “found” spaces.
  • Testing new business models for presenting jazz in intimate settings.
  • New models for artist self-presentation.
  • Developing programs that combine observational and participatory components.
  • Programming and educational efforts that accelerate the social transmission of musical tastes.
  • Linking the live audience experience with acquisition of recordings.
  • Creating a marketplace for collaborative jazz programming, where artists, presenters and funders can coalesce around new projects.
  • Developing new vocabulary and images that speak to different segments of the jazz audience.


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MUP The Mellon Papers

Additional Insights on Donors, Ticket-Buyers & Audiences

While the MUP Value and Impact Study concluded in 2007, much knowledge remained to be harvested from the substantial data sets that the study produced.  Recognizing the opportunity, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded a $50,000 proposal from the MUP consortium to extend the value of the study’s two major datasets by commissioning 10 focused research papers.


1. The Influence of Marketing Messages and Benefits Received On Attributions of Donation Behavior to Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations - Jennifer Wiggins Johnson & Bret Ellis. This paper seeks to better understand what influenced the degree to which donors perceive extrinsic benefits as the motivations for giving.

icon pdf Download the paper in PDF format


2. Study of MUP Donors Motivation, Behavior, and Benefits - May Kim, Yong JaeKo & Heather Gibson. This paper provides a review of theoretical frameworks that guide current perspectives on donor motivation.

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Ticket-Buyers & Demand

3. Preferences and Purchase Behavior: Survey Evidence on the Relationship between Stated Interested in the Performing Arts and Ticket Purchase History - Sarah Lee. This paper examines the relationship between individuals’ stated preferences for performances and their actual history of ticket-buying.

icon pdf Download the paper in PDF format


4. Community Contexts of University Presenters and Their Audiences - Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, Charles Gattone, William Jawde, & Deeb-Paul Kitchen. This paper offers broader sociological perspective to the understanding of audience values and preferences, by considering the larger community contexts of the presenter-audience relationship.

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5. Anticipation: Exploring its Origins and Effects on the Live Arts Experience - Jara Kern. This paper examines the causal factors and relationships underlying high levels of anticipation for performing arts programs.

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6. How We Feel About Art: Motivation, Satisfaction, and Emotional Experience in Performing Arts Audiences - Shelly Gilbride & David Orzechowicz. This paper explores performing arts audiences’ self-reported emotional experiences and how they relate to reasons for attending, expectations for, and satisfaction levels with a performance.

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7. Social Influences on Intrinsic Impacts of Performance - Trina Rose.  This paper examines the relationships between social and emotional factors and attendance, subscription and post-performance impact.

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Special Interest Topics

8. Analysis of Multiple Intelligences in Understanding the Relationships between Ticket Buyers and Their Participation in Performing Arts Programs - Mark Creekmore & Sarah Rush. This paper examines the validity of using the Values & Impact data to study Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and investigates relationship between intelligences and preferences for types of performances.

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9. Characterizing Program Enhancement Events - Yael Zipporah Silk & Jordan Raphael Fischbach. This paper profiles the enhancement event audience base, examines the impact of enhancement events on patrons who self-select to attend, and identifies characteristics that are predictive of pre- or post-performance event preferences.

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10. How Beliefs Matter: Views, Motives and their Relation to Buyer and Donor Behavior - Ximena Varela. This paper investigates audiences political beliefs and explores the relationship between political views and both ticket-buyer and donor behavior.

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Music & Healthcare

Lea Wolf, MSW and Dr. Thomas Wolf

icon pdf Click here to download the report



In 2009, the Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall launched the Musical Connections Program. The program was founded on these premises:

  • Music has the power to transform lives and to bring hope and comfort to people in challenging circumstances.
  • All people deserve to have great music in their lives.
  • Carnegie Hall feels a responsibility to provide and develop programs that respond to community need based on the organization’s mission and civic position.

Musical Connections has taken musicians to settings as diverse as adult and juvenile correctional facilities, homeless shelters, senior service organizations, and hospitals. In these settings, Musical Connections has offered programs ranging from large-scale concerts for several hundred people to in-depth workshops extending over many weeks involving as few as five or six participants. Initial evaluation of the program has demonstrated its profound impact on people’s lives.

Carnegie Hall recently decided to expand Musical Connections nationally based on the idea that the success of local programming’s response to New York City’s needs had implications for communities across the country. One of the aims of a national partnership is to try to find an underlying set of common goals and measures that might offer opportunities for cross site documentation and assessment. A first step in this effort is to ground the work in a broader understanding of theory and practice about the way music connects to the fields in which the program is active. This paper is intended to do that for the field of music and health.


The paper begins by exploring a core premise of the program: that music can have a transformative impact on people’s lives. Music is a primary force in the lives of individuals, families, and societies. Across cultures and throughout recorded history, humans make music. Rhythm, song, and improvisation punctuate the progress of individual and collective experience, from the melodies of everyday life to the set incantations of ritual. Music activates and shapes the human brain, sharpening the mind’s ability to hear and interpret speech, awakening emotion, and encoding memory. Music has been an element in the survival and development of the human species and musical instinct has its basis in biology.


The power of music to control the spirit has always been understood, but within the last decade, new technologies have made visible the interaction between music and the physical brain. The making and processing of music involves structures, networks, and pathways throughout the brain, from the highest order of conscious reaction to the lowest unconscious levels of response.

Music has been shown to stimulate the brain’s primary engines of human capacity. Musical engagement exercises attentional networks and executive function, evokes emotional response and stimulates the central nervous system, and appears to activate the human mirror-neuron system, supporting the coupling between perceptual events (visual or auditory) and motor actions (leg, arm/hand, or vocal/articulatory actions).

At one time, theories of human brain development argued that there was little or no growth of brain cells after age 30. But recent studies of music and the brain have shown this view to be erroneous. The brain is a plastic organ and music itself has the power to shape the brain’s development into later life. The implications of this finding are huge. Providing opportunities for people to experience music in many settings can have a profound impact on their healthy development. Exposure to music alters the physical structure of the brain. Engaging in musical activities not only shapes the organization of the developing brain but also produces long-lasting changes even after brain maturation is complete. For example, those who frequently play a musical instrument are less likely to develop dementia compared to those who do not, revealing that music works not only to train the brain, but also to protect cognitive functioning.

Music has long been recognized as a powerful force in rehabilitative treatment, used clinically to address impairments in motor function, language, cognition, sensory processing, and emotional disturbances that can result from brain injury. It has been used successfully to induce cognitive repair in patients with stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, or traumatic brain injury. Indeed, music has the potential to “fix” the brain, by providing an alternative entry point into a “broken” brain system to remediate impaired neural processes or neural connections.


With respect to health care, music can be an effective intervention with patients of every age. Music offers health benefits throughout life, from those born into the neonatal intensive care unit for whom music mediates medically-necessary stress, through those in hospice care at the end of life who can use music to transcend physical symptoms and declines.

Music is effective with patients with conditions ranging from cancer to schizophrenia to traumatic brain injury, and is used to support patients in staying well by combating the debilitating effects of stress, sleeplessness, and chronic pain. Indeed, today music is integrated into health care at every level. The clinical use of music is now an evidence-based practice that has been proven both to satisfy patients and, very significantly, to lower the cost of care.

Music has also been shown to enhance the experience of patients waiting for well visits – improving individual perception of the hospital, enhancing the speed and efficacy of staff performance in surgery, and even ameliorating the anxiety of patients being weaned from mechanical ventilation. Music has the potential to minimize the procedural and environmental demand that the conditions of the Intensive Care Unit place on patients, and it can engage and help to retain typically elusive patient-groups in areas such as mental health and substance abuse. Additionally, music has the potential to encourage people to commit to routine and necessary preventive care.


Each of the arts can be an effective tool for motivating, empowering, and developing staff. Many arts-based programs and encounters can help staff to affect positive change in their working environment and to address personal and professional development aims, yet music appears especially effective in addressing the needs of caregivers. This is particularly true for stress. For example, targeted music experiences have helped nurses relax, rejuvenate, and re-focus, enabling them to do their work with renewed energy.

Staff experience is also improved by those musical interventions that ease patient conditions, making patients more comfortable and rendering them easier to care for. For example, the use of music can contribute to work satisfaction for staff by soothing patient populations whose condition can incline them to agitation or disruptive behaviors.


This paper highlights selectively some of the extensive research on ways in which music has been used to promote health in specific areas of illness and/or care. While research is growing, many studies are still limited to a few patients or to mostly qualitative techniques, which is a concern when music advocates try to make their case to medical professionals or administrators who hold decision-making authority about staffing and treatment. Nevertheless, for each area there is a body of research correlating music with health improvements and specific papers are cited.

Conditions and areas of treatment for adults include:

  1. Pain, Stress, and Anxiety
  2. Oncology
  3. End of Life
  4. Gerontology
  5. Parkinson’s Disease
  6. Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  7. Mental Health
  8. Substance Abuse
  9. Rehabilitation
  10. Veterans

Pediatric conditions and area of treatment include:

  1. Labor
  2. Neonatal Intensive Care/Premature Infants
  3. Learning and Development
  4. Autism
  5. Adolescents
  6. Pediatric Illness

Programs that bring professional musicians into hospitals introduce one kind of musical intervention (performances and workshops) into a health care environment where a very different kind of musical activity has long dominated. That activity is called Music Therapy.

Music therapists are professionally trained and credentialed health professionals. They come to their work having completed a standardized curriculum that is comprised of an academic program, 1200 hours of clinical training, and a supervised internship. The therapeutic experience they offer can take many forms but it relies on a real-time relationship between a clinician and a client (or clients). There is a concentrated focus on the client’s evolving affect and expression and a concomitant adjustment in therapy in a session.

According to at least one well-known music therapist, the kinds of musical experiences offered by outside musicians coming into health care settings generally lack several of the critical components of a music therapy encounter:

  • Often they are not elective: a patient cannot opt out of hearing the music.
  • The experiences are not targeted to individual patients’ condition, mood, treatment plan, or essential self as therapy is.
  • Most often they are not sustained or repeated overtime.
  • They are not geared to respond to changes in patients moment-by-moment or to those observed over time.

Yet the evidence from some of these programs is that many of the elements mentioned above can be built into an intervention by a professional musician. It is also true that sometimes musicians offering a performance can reach clients who are not engaging therapeutically, or a performance can elicit an entirely different emotional response from that yielded by therapeutic technique. In any case, the imperative of careful calibration of selected music and performances in real time based on the responses of the patients is a valuable lesson that music therapy can teach the professional musician going into health care settings.

In spite of over half a century of positive outcomes for patients, music therapy has not been fully or routinely integrated into health care. Part of the challenge is the trend in health care towards an evidence-based model, one that has subjected longstanding clinical practice to a new level and vocabulary of scrutiny. Music therapy often suffers from the perception of simply not measuring up when it comes to evidence of outcomes. In addition, music therapy is not always welcomed by medical personnel or institutions: it has the potential to introduce unpredictability and additional people into treatment space and planning.


A. The nature of the interaction: No one has identified precise components and range of facilitated musical experiences in health care settings though we know that facilitated music experience exists on a continuum from a single performance without talk by a musician to the full therapeutic experience over time of a highly trained music therapist utilizing his or her interpersonal skills, knowledge base, and in some cases training as a professional musician. But this gross distinction doesn’t help very much and it has, in some cases, worked against the most cooperative strategies within health care settings. Perhaps what is needed is a more precise taxonomy of ways that professionals can interact musically with a range of patients together with opportunities and challenges posed by a variety of scenarios.

B. Access: In hospitals, clinics, or senior centers, musical outreach is often considered as entertainment, environmental enhancement, or recreation, and not a clinical intervention. Accordingly, access can be quite limited. Visiting musicians meet only those patients that the hospital staff deems healthy enough to handle the experience – in those spaces designated by the facility. In many places, gaining access is a challenge. Because the introduction of professional musicians into the health care environment can be perceived as an intrusion by some, advocacy by staff within the institution is critical – often the higher in the authority chain the better.

C. Dose and duration: Two intriguing questions in the area of music and health care are:

  • How much music does it take to make a difference?
  • How long do results last?
The question of frequency of exposure required to glean benefit is a subject of research. Not surprisingly, many studies correlate superior effects on patients to increased frequency of music intervention. But the long-term measurable benefits of music interventions are difficult to document. Certainly any form of program design or evaluation should take into account the effects of both dose and duration on intended outcome.


D. What music for which people? The delivery of music that is “appropriate” in health care settings is more than an issue of satisfying a generic checklist of do’s and don’ts. The brain of each individual patient has picked up musical building blocks from the local sonic environment in infancy and developed preferences based on this experience. To the extent possible, music needs to be tuned to resonate with patients’ particular and deep-rooted musical instinct. The evidence for this is overwhelming – patient preferences and prior musical experiences are vital determinants of the ultimate success of any intervention. Ideally music should be relevant to its listeners in terms of culture, genre, mood, and era of origin. Yet because music is an inherently evocative medium, performers also need to be cautious not to evoke too much feeling.

E. Research: What do we know and how reliable is our knowledge? A growing interest in music and health has created an explosion of research over the last decade. But the research has generally been performed on limited populations (small numbers make statistical validity much more difficult), and analysis rarely factors in the implications of the demographic sample and often does not control for other factors in the environment. Live musical performances regularly garner enthusiastic reviews from patients and from staff, and have the potential to transform the experience of both patients and their caregivers, but their effects can be difficult to quantify.

Few studies so far document the effects of the kind of programs offered by Musical Connections or by other organizations doing the work of community engagement in the field of music and health, due in part due to the methodological considerations mentioned above. This work is widespread and deserving of consideration by research. The design of effective evaluation and research protocols is a challenging proposition, yet the work requires documentation, assessment, and evaluation in order to persist and evolve. One contribution that the Musical Connections program and others like it can make is to introduce greater rigor into that process of evaluation and documentation, which could help to address the problem.

F. Technology: New possibilities: The use of music in health care is being transformed by technology. Already, technology is used to offer relaxation and entertainment, enabling patients to access individualized pre-recorded content. New, easy-to-use devices allow the recording of sound and lyrics in the moment and this makes possible a new kind of “play,” allowing a patient who may not be comfortable producing music in traditional ways to engage in music-making without singing or playing an instrument. Because so many adolescents record and sample music already, technology can also provide an avenue of access to this age group.

With new technologies becoming more prevalent in health care settings, those who care about the quality of musical interactions need to become involved with the planning of content and use. One lesson from the almost universal presence of television in hospitals is that technology often seeks the lowest common denominator of content. High quality content needs advocates who can make a clinical case for its use.

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MUP Value & Impact Study

Dissemination is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

The MUP Value & Impact Study was a two-year study of the values and motivations driving performing arts attendance and donation. The study was commissioned by 14 leading university performing arts presenters. To download an overview of the study, including a list of the study partners and a list of deliverables

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Impact Study

Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance attempts to define and measure how audiences are transformed by a live performance. The study develops a simple measurement tool to assess impact, provides an analytical framework for considering the results, and suggests how performing arts presenters might begin to use this information to select programs more purposefully and evaluate them on the basis of impact instead of attendance. The protocols may be found in the appendix of the full report.

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Segmentation Study

The study produced two new segmentation models, one for ticket buyers and another for donors, based on an extensive multi-site online survey conducted in 2006. A cluster analysis was conducted on a total of 51 attitudinal variables, resulting in a 10-segment ticket buyer model, including Mavericks, Remixers, Networked Students and Serenity-Seekers. A second cluster analysis was performed on donor data to arrive at a 5-segment donor model, including Intrinsics, Networkers, Co-Creators, Marquee Donors, and Youth Focused.

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Creative Summit

In February 2007, marketing directors, graphic designers and other staff from 12 university presenting programs gathered in Lawrence, Kansas for a three-day intensive creative charrette. The purpose of the charrette was to conceptualize new marketing campaigns based on the new ticket buyer segmentation model.

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Additional Insights on Donors, Ticket-Buyers & Audiences

Supplementary Research: The Mellon Papers

While the MUP Value and Impact Study concluded in 2007, much knowledge remained to be harvested from the substantial data sets that the study produced.  Recognizing the opportunity, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded a $50,000 proposal from the MUP consortium to extend the value of the study’s two major datasets by commissioning 10 focused research papers. View the Mellon Papers

Resources & Downloads

Impact Study

Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance attempts to define and measure how audiences are transformed by a live performance. The study develops a simple measurement tool to assess impact, provides an analytical framework for considering the results, and suggests how performing arts presenters might begin to use this information to select programs more purposefully and evaluate them on the basis of impact instead of attendance. The protocols may be found in the appendix of the full report.

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Herding Cats and Cougars

How to Survive the Meeting You Are Running While Mastering the Art of Facilitation

Special Preview for WolfBrown Clients and Friends



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Presenting Performances: A Basic Handbook for the 21st Century

This recently revised edition of an industry classic contains seven chapters devoted to discussion of presenting from several perspectives, including that of the community, the organization, the performer, the audience member, the fund-raiser, and the technician. This edition contains appendices with sample bylaws, contracts, and press releases as well as glossaries of technical and presenting terms.


Available through the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

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And the Band Stopped Playing: The Rise and Fall of the San Jose Symphony

Though this is a book about a specific orchestra in a particular city, it contains lessons for arts organizations and nonprofits in many fields. It is also directed at the funders that support them. This is a challenging time for the nonprofit sector, especially symphony orchestras. But it is also a time of great opportunity for innovation and experimentation. The authors are impressed by the many examples of nonprofit institutions that are redefining what it means to be central to those who live in their communities. They applaud the many leaders -- professional and volunteer, artistic and administrative -- that make innovation and excellence possible.


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Available through Amazon .


The Values Study: Rediscovering the Meaning and Value of Arts Participation

The Values Study was a participatory qualitative study of arts participation in Connecticut involving teams of board and staff members representing 20 Connecticut arts organizations. The study develops a new framework for understanding arts participation (i.e., five modes of arts participation) and the many layers of benefits and value that consumers seek. The third section provides extensive guidelines for arts groups that may wish to conduct qualitative research on their audiences and visitors.


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Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance

(embargo lifted January 2008) This report attempts to define and measure how audiences are transformed by a live performance. The study, commissioned by the Major University Presenters consortium, develops a simple measurement tool to assess impact, provides an analytical framework for considering the results, and suggests how performing arts presenters might begin to use this information to select programs more purposefully and evaluate them on the basis of impact instead of attendance.


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The Search for Shining Eyes: Audiences, Leadership and Change in the Symphony Orchestra Field

From 1994 to 2004 — a seminal decade for the arts in America — the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invested $13 million in its Magic of Music Symphony Orchestra Initiative. This commissioned history by Dr. Thomas Wolf offers not just a chronology of the program, it identifies significant lessons for funders and for orchestras. Those insights extend to other nonprofit arts organizations as well. The Search for Shining Eyes tries to reach beyond the Knight Foundation family and the small pool of orchestras that participated to capitalize on one of the most valuable roles foundations can play - to serve as a lasting laboratory for learning.

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More Than Measuring: Program Evaluation as an Opportunity to Build the Capacity of Communities

More than Measuring is the final publication of the longitudinal study that assessed the impact of ArtsPartners. The evaluation, conducted over five years in cooperation with the Dallas Independent School District, the City of Dallas and over 50 cultural organizations, focuses on design principles used in conducting evaluations in ways that build the capacity of communities to design and improve programs for children and youth.

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The Contours of Inclusion: Frameworks and Tools for Evaluating Arts in Education

In her article “Freedom Machines,” Dennie Wolf outlines a bold approach to evaluation of arts and cultural learning programs. The article is part of “Contours of Inclusion,” published by VSA at the Kennedy Center. Wolf’s piece is accompanied by a case study of a joint project between the Studio Museum of Harlem and Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom School, a small high school in the South Bronx.

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Richmond Region Cultural Action Plan

When a major region of the country announces a new cultural action plan, it is important news -- especially when it provides a bold vision in these challenging economic times. “A Cultural Action Plan for the Richmond Region” is hot off the press. Engaging over 3,000 residents, the plan was developed under the guidance of WolfBrown. It provides a call to action to strengthen Richmond’s dynamic mix of history, heritage, arts, and culture.

A Call to Action - This brief report provides an important overview of the cultural action plan and a summary of goals and key strategies.

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Richmond Region Cultural Action Plan - This report provides the complete plan with findings, goals, and recommendations for action steps.

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Richmond Region Technical Report - This provides the complete details of the three research components – Cultural Census, Cultural Budget, and Cultural Education—including complete findings and copies of all protocols.

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Community MusicWorks Evaluation

If You Are Walking Down the Right Path: Published December 2009

This report provides the findings and recommendations by Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf and Dr. Steven J. Holochwost.

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Donor Motivations Study

This suite of three reports, completed in 2010, explores why donors give to arts groups in the Bay Area, and captures lessons learned by individual artists and small arts groups in raising matching funds from donors.


It’s Not About You… It’s About Them: A Research Report on What Motivates Bay Area Donors to Give to the Arts and Artists

This document includes a summary report on the Fund For Artists Matching Commissions grant program, including a high level summary of the research on donor motivations, as well as the Field Reports document and other appendices. The intended audience for this report includes funders, arts agencies, and others who seek to help artists and small arts groups raise funds for programs.

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Field Reports from the Fund For Artists Matching Commissions Program: Unlocking the Potential of Individual Donors

This report describes how some of the individual artists and arts groups participating in the Fund For Artists Matching Commissions program successfully raised funds to meet their match requirement. The intended audience for this report includes individual artists and small diverse arts organizations.

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Fund For Artists Donor Study – WolfBrown Consolidated Research Report

This 127-page research report includes detailed results from a survey of over 3,000 donors to Bay Area arts programs, as well as results from a series of individual depth interviews with a cross-section of arts donors.

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Background on the Study

The Fund For Artists is a collaborative initiative of The San Francisco Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation working regionally to build individual donor capacity and bring new resources to artists.

Since 2004, with support from Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), the Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, James Irvine, Surdna, and Wattis Foundations and individual arts donors, the initiative has achieved unqualified success – raising over $2 million and supporting 300+ artists throughout the Bay Area.

The Fund For Artists Matching Commissions program (FFAMC) supports the creation of new artwork by Bay Area artists and expands the pool of individual donors engaged with artists and their work. Between 2004 and early 2010, this program funded 117 new works projects involving more than 180 artists. It stimulated over $705,000 in contributions by more than 2,900 individual donors, many of them new to giving to artists’ projects. In addition to the Matching Commissions program, the Fund For Artists initiative includes entrepreneurial and fund development training workshops for artists, collaborative marketing, donor celebration events, and research on the recession’s impact on Bay Area artists.

In 2009, the sponsoring foundations commissioned Helicon Collaborative and WolfBrown to study the values and motivations of donors to FFAMC projects, and capture useful lessons about the program and the fundraising strategies used by its recipients.

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Getting In On the Act

Arts participation is being redefined as people increasingly choose to engage with art in new, more active and expressive ways.

This compelling trend carries profound implications, and fresh opportunities, for a nonprofit arts sector exploring how to adapt to demographic and technological changes.

Getting In On the Act: How Arts Groups are Creating Opportunities for Active Participation is a new study commissioned by The James Irvine Foundation and conducted by WolfBrown. It draws insights from more than 100 nonprofit arts groups and other experts in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The report presents a new model for understanding levels of arts engagement as well as case studies of participatory arts in practice. It also addresses many of the concerns that arts organizations may have in supporting participatory arts practices and provides inspiration and ideas for exploring this growing trend.

Understanding Audience Involvement

With growing frequency, artists and arts organizations are integrating active arts practices into their work, often through collaborations and partnerships. The Audience Involvement Spectrum is a simple framework developed to describe the different ways participatory arts programs work, and the various entry points for participation. This five-stage model illustrates a progression of involvement from “spectating” — in which the audience member plays only a minor role in shaping the artistic experience — to the point at which there is no conventional “audience” at all because every person involved is creating, doing or making art.

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Within the three participatory stages of the Audience Involvement Spectrum, audiences are involved at various levels of interactivity or creative control: curatorial engagement (selecting, editing, organizing, voting), interpretive engagement (performing, remaking an existing work of art), or inventive engagement (creating something entirely new). These levels add further dimension to the spectrum, and may be helpful in providing language to describe a complicated area of arts practice.

The full report is available for download from the James Irvine Foundation's website.

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Making Sense of Audience Engagement

Engaged audiences are a cornerstone in the foundation of a strong arts ecosystem.

Alan Brown and Rebecca Ratzkin

Click here to download the full report.


This report takes stock of a growing body of practice in the arts sector referred to as “audience engagement” – a somewhat bewildering array of programs and activities such as lectures, open rehearsals, docent tours and online forums. To help make sense of this rapidly developing landscape, an “Arc of Engagement” model is proposed to aid in understanding the stages through which audience members pass in constructing unique experiences around a shared work of art. A wide variety of engagement programs can be placed along this arc. Drawing from audience studies in the dance, theatre and classical music fields, six diverse audience typologies are described in terms of their engagement preferences: 1) Readers; 2) Critical Reviewers; 3) Casual Talkers; 4) Technology-based Processors; 5) Insight Seekers; and 6) Active Learners. Engaging these typologies requires an understanding of four underlying dimensions of engagement, extracted from an examination of several dozen engagement programs: social vs. solitary, active vs. passive, peer-based vs. expert-led, and community vs. audience. A range of current practice in engaging audiences and visitors is illustrated in 11 brief case studies. Helping audiences and visitors make meaning from artistic work is a major focus in the field right now, motivated by the need to attract and retain audiences in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Arts organizations hoping to reap the benefits of an engaged audience must think holistically about managing the total experience, from the moment a decision is made to attend, to the days, months and years after the event. Engagement is a unifying philosophy that brings together marketing, education and artistic programming in common service of maximizing impact.

Making Sense of Audience Engagement was commissioned by The San Francisco Foundation and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund as part of the two funder's collaborative capacity-building efforts, supported by The Wallace Foundation through its Wallace Excellence Awards Program.

© 2011 The San Francisco Foundation

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May the Songs I Have Written Speak for Me

An Exploration of the Potential of Music in Juvenile Justice

By Lea Wolf MSW, and Dennie Wolf, EdD.

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Executive Summary

For decades the United States has outstripped other nations not only in the number of adults, but the number of juveniles, in its correctional systems—systems that have historically failed to rehabilitate the young men and women entrusted to its facilities and services. In fact, involvement in the juvenile justice system has harsh life-long effects, diminishing young people’s school achievement, mental and physical health and, consequently, their ability to reenter and thrive in their communities, to become someone other than that person who made and paid for bad choices.

Nationally, a groundswell of forces is advocating for change in the juvenile justice system. While mindful of public safety, states and municipalities are seeking to re-imagine this system as an intervention that can foster youth development, rather than as a junior penitentiary system. The reform is three-fold. First, a redesigned system focuses on prevention—to reform the process of arrest, arraignment, and detention into a network of effective youth engagement programs, alternatives to detention, community-based placements, probation, and supports. Second, advocates aim to transform the one-hundred-year-old correctional system from a “holding tank” model of incarceration into one that allows for a pause in self-destructive and violent behaviors and promotes development for young people who have lived much of their lives at risk. Finally, the third imperative is to address the harsh current realities of re-entry by creating sustainable paths out of the juvenile justice system and towards purposeful lives.

Turning these hopes into realities will demand a cascade of changes at the community, state, and federal levels, in the design, location, and staffing of juvenile facilities, and in programs that educate, treat, and support young people who enter and then exit the prevention, corrections, and parole systems. But while policy changes can provide the blueprints, funding streams, and agency mandates, it will require a network of partnerships to make the promised reforms realistic, meaningful, and sustainable—fiscally, politically, and socially. In part, this work entails guaranteeing the basic civil rights of youth offenders while in custody and afterwards: they have to be able to enroll in high schools, they must be eligible for jobs, or viable candidates for scholarship programs for colleges. And it entails fundamental services like counseling and high-quality mental and physical health care. But the young people involved in or exiting the justice system need access to more than these basics. Their minds, spirits, and imaginations also deserve attention—many of them will be on their own to invent new choices and futures. Thus, far from being “extras,” the arts could potentially make significant contributions to the reform and future conduct of juvenile justice. If asked to the table, cultural organizations and individual artists could offer a curriculum in ensemble work, persistence, and imagination:

To be enabled to activate the imagination is to discover not only possibility, but to find the gaps, the empty spaces that require filling as we move from the is to the might be, to the should be.
—Maxine Greene, Quoted in Freeman, 2012

Acting at the intersection between juvenile justice reform, youth development, and a sense of the civic mission of cultural organizations, Carnegie Hall, through its Musical Connections program of the Weill Music Institute, is collaborating with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Probation, the Department of Education District 79, and other New York City agencies to think about how participatory music-centered programming can support young people who enter and exit the juvenile justice system. Since beginning the work in 2009, Carnegie Hall has sponsored ten creative projects: eight in secure detention facilities and two in non-secure detention settings, serving more than a hundred young people, plus audiences of staff, peers, and families. These residencies last two weeks on average and engage young people in songwriting, instrumental playing, producing, and performing. Each residency culminates in a concert for other residents and staff and the production of a CD. The purpose is not only to teach music or the possibility of ensemble work—it is to jump-start the sense of being a person with potential.

The following paper shares what Musical Connections has learned so far in this work by: 1) examining the history and current reforms in juvenile justice; 2) reviewing the underlying research and evaluations conducted by other musical projects both in adult and juvenile corrections; and 3) harvesting and reflecting on its own musical work in juvenile justice over the last three years. The paper contains these sections:

  • A history of juvenile justice in the United States with an emphasis on the long-standing tension between incarceration and rehabilitation
  • An overview of the current movement for reform
  • A summary of basic research on adolescent development, with an emphasis on the new brain science that explains why adolescents are prone to risk-taking, thrill-seeking, and emotionally-driven choices, coupled with a discussion of the potential of music to reach and affect adolescents
  • A review of research and evaluations from an international set of music programs in both adult and juvenile corrections facilities, with an emphasis on what such programs accomplish and the specific effects they have
  • A reflection on the design principles emerging from effective programs
  • An examination of the current work in juvenile justice supported by Carnegie Hall and the Administration for Children’s Services in New York, with an emphasis on the issues and choices that are arising as this work enters a second, deeper, and more challenging phase.

The purpose of this review is to invite readers and stakeholders–including organizations, musicians, staff, and advocates–to think about these questions:

  • What exactly can music (or, more broadly, the arts) contribute to the reform of juvenile justice systems?
  • What constitutes making that contribution responsibly and well?
  • How do we build evidence that music (or the arts more broadly) make a difference in the lives of youth, staff, families, or facilities?

Put even more concretely, how do artists, along with arts and cultural organizations, partner with their communities to provide the alternatives to “the street” that young people seek?

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More Than the Sum of its Parts: Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education

Written by two seasoned practitioners—Thomas Wolf and Gigi Antoni—the new book, More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education, is a primer on how organizations that offer arts education and creative learning programs can initiate, enter into, and support long-lasting partnerships.


Vibrantly illustrated and presented in an easy-to-read format, it describes the theory and practice underlying various levels of collaboration—from organizational partnerships to mergers to community-wide systems. The book also offers inspiring, real-life examples of thriving arts education partnerships from communities large and small throughout the United States.

The complete book, which is jointly published by the National Guild and Big Thought, is available as a free download. Printed copies may be purchased from


How to Connect with Donors and Double the Money You Raise

There is no shortage of donors today. What is lacking is our ability to relate to the donors we already have and others we should have. That, in essence, is the message of Tom Wolf's new book, How to Connect with Donors and Double the Money You Raise.


Too often we see donors through the distorted lens of retention rates, average gifts, moves management, and gift table place setters. While that may help us harvest low-hanging gifts, fundraisers who reap the real bounty do something many neglect. They engage their donors in a multitude of ways, large and small, as Tom demonstrates through irresistible, real-life stories. How to Connect with Donors and Double the Money You Raise convincingly shows that successful fundraising is all about turning names into relationships. When you do that, the money will flow.

Read an excerpt, "It's the Donor's Ballgame," at

Best known for his textbook Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the 21st Century, Dr. Thomas Wolf established the Cambridge office of WolfBrown in 1983 and has enjoyed a long career as a consultant to organizations throughout the world. His new book is a fun, fast read that both experienced fund raisers and beginners should have in their libraries.


Copies are available from:
Palmer Wolf Corporation, 8A Francis Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138.

  • one copy: $21.95 (save $3) plus $3 shipping
  • 2-5 copies $19.95/copy plus $2/copy shipping
  • more than 5 copies $17.95 postpaid
Call 617-494-9300 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


Also available from Amazon and Emerson & Church.