At the Center for Creative Community Development we engage in research on the economic and social impacts of cultural organizations on their communities. The online resource we provide here presents the results of our research along with some of the tools we have developed to estimate economic and social impact.

This area of our site discusses how you can start collecting and analyzing data in ways that will allow you to make the case for your organization as an economic and social catalyst in your community. You have opportunities to make that case on a regular basis, whether it’s to your organization’s staff or board of directors, or the city council members, state arts agency representatives, private foundation officers, or individual and corporate donors. The suggestions provided here will help you communicate to others the economic and social benefits your organization brings to the community.

Finally, we discuss the tools we have created for estimating the economic and social impacts of the cultural organizations we have researched. You will find the tools themselves and the results of our research in the Case Studies section of our site.


This section discusses the benefits that can result from the measurement and evaluation of the economic and social impact of your organization and the ways this site can assist you in that effort.

Documenting Your Work

This section introduces the types of information you might collect if you want to undertake an economic or social impact analysis of your organization. Areas discussed include: Narrative Documentation; Publicity Documentation; Financial Documentation; Personnel Documentation; and Audience Documentation.

Developing Good Partnerships for Data Collection and Evaluation

This section discusses how collaboration can improve your measurement and evaluation programs. It introduces some good potential partners such as Colleges and Universities, other cultural organizations, non-cultural organizations, and United Ways, along with suggestions of how to approach them.

Determining What to Evaluate and What Not to Evaluate

This section discusses how to decide what aspects of your economic and social impact to evaluate in a way that will meet your needs and not stress your resources. It examines what questions to ask, and to whom should you pose them.

Evaluating Your Economic Role in the Community

This section discusses how you can estimate your impact on local spending, local employment, property values, new business formation, tax revenues, and the building of a “creative class” of mobile workers, entrepreneurs and community leaders.

Evaluating Your Social Role in the Community

This section discusses ways to articulate your organization’s contributions to education, civic engagement, and social integration in your community. It describes the concept of a “social network,” and how you can analyze the role of your organization in your community’s social network.

Evaluating Your Role in Shaping Your Neighborhood’s Identity

This section discusses how changes in neighborhood identity can be evaluated using surveys and interviews. It suggests ways you can determine if your organization has been a significant factor in shaping your neighborhood’s identity.

Advocacy: Incorporating Evaluation and Measurement into Your Case-Making

This section discusses how economic and social impact analyses can be used to strengthen your advocacy with elected officials and other policy makers, board members, donors, and the general public. It provides suggestions and examples of how you can use impact analyses to articulate a compelling case for your organization.

Supported by grants from the Ford Foundation through its “Shifting Sands – Art, Culture, and Neighborhood Change” initiative, with assistance from Partners for Livable Communities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and support from Williams College.

Site © 2012 Zack Sheppard and the Center for Creative Community Development