On Experiments in the Arts

Authors: Joanna Woronkowicz*, Indiana University, Doug Noonan, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Topics: Quantitative Methods
Keywords: arts, experiments, methods
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 3, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Both the volume and prominence of arts-related research has increased significantly over the past decade or so. Part of this is due to various efforts on the part of the National Endowment for the Arts to support arts-related research. For example, both the NEA’s Art Works: Research grants and Research Labs program have stimulated scholars from across disciplines to focus their work on arts-related questions. Despite these trends, experimental research on cause-and-effect relationships in the arts is still lagging, especially when compared to research in other sectors (e.g., health and education). In this paper, we argue that both arts-related research and the arts sector (e.g., artists, arts organizations) would benefit from more studies using experimental methods. We present reasons for why studies in the arts typically do not include experimental designs and provide solutions for implementing experiments in the arts for future work. Additionally, we present examples of experimental research in the arts, drawing from the work being done at the Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Lab at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (an NEA Research Lab). Finally, we discuss how experimental research can inform arts management and policy. In making our argument, we draw from other fields’ experiences with advancing the quality and impact of research. The paper concludes by providing recommendations to arts research stakeholders (e.g., universities, foundations, and government) on how to advance research in this area.

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