The Creative and Cultural Economy

New Year, What’s New? 

In April of 2016 we gathered to launch the Arts + Culture Research Network and announce an inaugural research initiative, The Create and Cultural Economy. As we begin the New Year, we want to check in and update you on our progress and let you know what to expect in 2017… 

The long-term vision of the Arts + Culture Research Network is to help grow a robust research resource that can assist Rhode Island’s cultural sector in answering questions related to the growth and vitality of this important part of the economy and to leverage the collective knowledge in our state. 

As the Arts + Culture Research Network expands, some of the questions that are explored might include: What are the health benefits of art? How can history provide guidance to increasing civic engagement? Or how can arts and culture provide innovation in education, especially in STEM fields?  

The Creative and Cultural Economy

In September 2016, four Rhode Island scholars were selected to participate in a cross-disciplinary research team that is exploring how to measure Rhode Island’s creative and cultural assets. Their research will focus on how arts and culture impact the economy, education, community development and quality of life. 

Over the last few months the team has been meeting to determine how they can best leverage their diverse expertise to support a creative and meaningful approach to this collaborative research project. The team determined that they will focus on creating and piloting an easy-to-use assessment tool that will enable public and private stakeholders in Rhode Island’s cultural community to evaluate individual cultural institutions’ progress related to investments made by the organization and their supporters. 

A primary goal for the team is to ensure that their approach is not burdensome for the cultural organizations being assessed, nor for their agents conducting the assessment. It would not duplicate any past or current data collection efforts, but rather enhance future efforts and serve as an ongoing longitudinal analysis that could impact programmatic decisions, operational investments and strategic growth.

This month they plan to engage participants across the state who will use this data in a series of forums. They hope that these forums will help to determine what data is most meaningful and useful for Rhode Island. They will also identify opportunities and potential barriers related to data collection efforts. Each session will include discussion of a particular thematic area where cultural organizations have impact – economy, education, community development and quality of life. 

Stay tuned as we continue to report on their efforts and provide ways for you to engage. 

About the Research Team

Francis J. Leazes, Ph. D., Rhode Island College
A resident of Providence since 1985, Professor Leazes currently is the Director of the undergraduate Public Administration Program at RIC. He is the author of articles on Nonprofit Administration, Urban Politics, Public Budgeting and Finance, and co-authored Providence: The Renaissance City (published by Northeastern University Press, 2004), a political analysis of Providence in the years 1960-2000. His current teaching and research interests include program evaluation, economic development, arts, culture and tourism and the educational opportunities presented by digital technology and public cemeteries.

Stacey Springs, Ph. D., Brown University
Stacey received her PhD in Pharmaceutical Economics and Health Policy, and her research activities bridge methodologies of health care policy analysis, health economics and evidence synthesis. Dr. Springs was recently appointed an Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) funded Research Fellow (K12) focused on Comparative Effectiveness (CER) and Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR).

Marc Vogl, M.P.A., Brown University
Marc Vogl is a consultant to non-profits, foundations and government agencies in the cultural sector, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice at Brown University’s Center for Public Humanities (2016). Marc provides facilitation, planning, coaching services and research support to arts organizations and funders in the Bay Area and across the country.

William Zywiak, Ph. D., Bryant University
William Zywiak, PhD, has served as an evaluator of three innovative programs: the Byrne Housing Project, the RI Jail Diversion Trauma and Recovery Program, and the California Community College: Student Mental Health Program. He has extensive experience developing assessment measures, analyzing qualitative data, conducting advanced statistical analyses on quantitative data, and reporting and integrating qualitative and quantitative results.

About the Arts & Culture Research Network
In November of 2014, voters of Rhode Island approved a Creative & Cultural Economy Initiative that involved a FY2015-FY2018 investment and distribution of $35M in funding awards to advance the cultural foundation throughout the state. To track the return on this investment, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts in collaboration with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission partnered with The College & University Research Collaborative to launch the Arts + Culture Research Network and an initial research initiative, The Creative and Cultural Economy. The first meeting of the Arts + Culture Research Network was held in April 2016.

About The Collaborative
The Collaborative is a statewide public/private partnership of Rhode Island’s 11 colleges and universities that connects public policy and academic research. The Collaborative’s mission is to increase the use of non-partisan academic research in policymaking and to provide an evidence-based foundation for government decision-making in Rhode Island. Learn more at

Established in 1967, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) is charged by the state legislature to stimulate public interest and participation in the arts and to serve as the liaison to the state arts community.

RISCA affirms and supports the diversity of persons and ideas both within the organization and throughout the state.

About The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission
The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission is the state agency for historical preservation and heritage programs. The Commission operates a statewide historical preservation program that identifies and protects historic buildings, districts, structures, and archaeological sites. The Commission also develops and carries out programs to document and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Rhode Island's people.