SNAAP at Indiana University receives National Endowment for the Arts grants

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The federal National Endowment for the Arts has awarded two grants to continue the work of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project based at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, a center of the IU School of Education.

An NEA research grant will support a college senior exit survey of both arts and non-arts majors. A second grant will support the next SNAAP conference, where researchers, educators and arts practitioners will discuss aspects of the survey findings and related topics, as they relate to arts training in the 21st century.

Since 2008, SNAAP has surveyed more than 100,000 arts alumni -- individuals with undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in art, architecture, design, creative writing, media arts, music, theater and dance -- from about 300 American institutions. The SNAAP questionnaire includes extensive items on both the educational experiences and career outcomes of each respondent, including relevance of arts training, resource needs, job satisfaction, income and debt.

Participation in the SNAAP survey is open to all degree-granting colleges and universities as well as arts high schools. SNAAP was launched with generous support from the Surdna Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Houston Endowment and other funders.

The NEA is granting $20,000 to IU to support a study of college seniors' skills, motivations and career aspirations. The exit survey will be administered as part of the National Survey of Student Engagement, the nation’s largest survey of undergraduate experiences, also based at the IU Center for Postsecondary Research.

The intent of the new study is to investigate the relationship between undergraduates’ arts or non-arts training and the development of workforce skills, such as creative problem-solving and entrepreneurship.

”With this project, we hope to begin to answer the question of how the skills and career aspirations of graduating seniors who major in the arts compare and contrast with their peers in non-arts subjects,” said Sally Gaskill, SNAAP director. “The study will add to the growing literature on the distinct set of skills, motivations and aspirations that prepare arts students for the 21st-century creative economy.”

The other NEA grant is for $30,000, which will go to SNAAP partner Arizona State University to support the second “3 Million Stories” conference. SNAAP research director Steven J. Tepper, Arizona State’s new dean of the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, will direct the conference.

The conference is held in collaboration with SNAAP to engage arts leaders, educators, foundation officers and artists in an examination of the training and careers of artists in the context of educational reform and economic change. The first SNAAP conference was held at Vanderbilt University in 2013.

“Ultimately, SNAAP is about telling the stories of the 3 million arts graduates in the U.S. today,” Gaskill said. “Our first conference proved to be such an invaluable convening that we were urged to make it a biennial offering.”

The funding from the NEA is part of the agency’s “Art Works” grants. The NEA intends for the Art Works grants to be the agency’s primary means of directly supporting the nation's nonprofit organizations and the work they do to bring the arts to communities throughout the country. According to the NEA, Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts.