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Sally Gaskill
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project

Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009

SNAAP receives national award for arts research

Nov. 16, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A project based at Indiana University that studies how to connect arts training to artistic careers has won a national award for its work.

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and Ellen B. Rudolph, Surdna Foundation program director for Thriving Cultures, received the Institutional Research Initiative Award from the Arts Schools Network at its recent annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Based at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, SNAAP is an annual online survey, data management and institutional improvement system designed to enhance the impact of arts-school education.

In making the award, Roy S. Fluhrer of South Carolina, chair of the awards committee, noted that this "is not an annual award, but given only when the quality of the research and its impact merit the recognition." He added, "This year the work initiated by Ellen Rudolph of the Surdna Foundation of New York, and implemented, and under the direction of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, is conducting significant research about the life and work of graduates of arts schools."

SNAAP was established in late 2007 and has since worked with more than 90 educational institutions to learn about the educational experiences and career paths of arts alumni. By collecting the first national data on how artists develop in this country, SNAAP is identifying the factors needed to better connect arts training to artistic careers. This information will make it possible for education institutions, researchers and arts leaders to understand the factors that helped or hindered arts alumni in achieving their goals, whether they have chosen to work as artists or pursue other paths.

Bill Barrett, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of Art and Design (AICAD) of San Francisco, nominated Rudolph and SNAAP for the award. "The great benefit of the SNAAP survey is that it not only gathers very important data about a school's alumni, it also allows a school to compare its performance to that of similar institutions," Barrett said.

"The impact of this research is far reaching, but at the same time, has implications for every Arts Schools Network school," said Kristy Callaway, executive director of the Arts Schools Network, an international association of schools and institutions dedicated to education in and through the arts. It supports and serves leaders of specialized arts schools, arts integration schools and new schools of the arts.

Directed by George D. Kuh, Chancellor's Professor and director of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University Bloomington, SNAAP operates in collaboration with the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. SNAAP's distinguished 16-member National Advisory Board is made up of artists, arts educators, arts researchers and arts administrators, and is chaired by Ken Fischer, president of the University of Michigan Musical Arts Society. Gwyn Richards, dean of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, serves on the SNAAP board.

"For the first time, SNAAP results will allow us to see how high-quality, deep training in the arts guides professional careers of creative American citizens," said Sarah Bainter Cunningham, arts education director at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

SNAAP is a National Arts Education Partner of the NEA. Leadership funding for SNAAP is provided by the Surdna Foundation, which fosters just and sustainable communities in the United States -- communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures. Additional support is provided from the Barr Foundation, Houston Endowment Inc., Educational Foundation of America, The Cleveland Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) is based at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research in the IU Bloomington School of Education.