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An Introduction

As the newest member of WolfBrown’s San Francisco office, I want to introduce myself to our readers and share how excited I am to continue learning about arts audiences and organizations with my colleagues and our clients. My own interest in the puzzle of how to capture the impact of arts and culture intensified during my time fundraising for the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Arts & Humanities. Reporting to our donors on the impact of their gifts was a core part of my work and so the hurdle of procuring data to support anecdotal stories was ever present. As I discussed with my colleagues how best to attract a donor base heavy with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the challenge of providing meaningful data on the arts & humanities continued to captivate me.

My interest in assessing the impact of the arts led me to New York, where I pursued a master’s in Arts Administration at Columbia University. There, I combined coursework in cultural policy and arts access with classes on survey research and program evaluation. Throughout my research, I came across report after report authored by WolfBrown. These reports fascinated me and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend the summer in WolfBrown’s San Francisco office researching how arts organizations can use theories of change to clarify the logic behind their audience development strategies.

As I returned to New York, I felt invigorated by the research I had completed over the summer and excited to pour this new knowledge into my master’s thesis, which focused on the implementation of evaluation findings on community arts programs. With this research fresh in my mind, I joined WolfBrown on a project for Lincoln Center Education. Here, I was out in the field, working to understand the impact of Lincoln Center Education’s community programs by administering surveys, observing performances, and conducting interviews. At family performances, I noticed the ways that parents modeled engagement for their children, acting as the first teachers to shape their child’s creative development. As I conducted focus groups after library screenings of Lincoln Center performances, I listened intently as senior community members explained the importance of formats that allowed for an active cultural life close to home. These experiences served as a powerful reminder of the importance of having access to rich arts experiences at all ages and of taking the time to collect data that can help to sustain this access. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to be able to continue this work in my position at WolfBrown.

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One Response to An Introduction

  1. Rick Heath says:

    Hi Megan

    Your thesis sounds fascinating. I’d love to hear more.

    Cheers

    Rick

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