SNAAP Receives $650,000 from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the 2022 Arts Alumni Survey

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

UT Austin, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to serve as anchor sponsors for grant

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a three-year grant of $650,000 to Arts + Design Alumni Research, a nonprofit that manages the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). The Mellon funding will enable SNAAP to plan and administer a 2022 national survey of arts alumni and support new collaborative partnerships and a more inclusive survey administration.

The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will serve as anchor sponsors and host institutions for SNAAP, beginning in January 2021. UT Austin will be the base of SNAAP’s management, and UIUC will oversee the research activities.  A new managing director will be hired at UT Austin, and Dr. Jennifer Novak-Leonard, research associate professor at UIUC, will serve as SNAAP’s research director.

In the new survey, SNAAP will respond to the growing need for greater inclusivity and diversity among the arts schools that are the primary institutionalized routes into creative careers. SNAAP plans to partner with more than 100 colleges and universities to survey approximately 75,000 arts alumni about their educational and career experiences. Registration will begin in 2021-22 and the survey will be fielded in fall 2022.

“We’re enormously grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for recognizing the importance of the country’s art and design schools and the importance of SNAAP to our colleges and universities,” said Douglas Dempster, dean of the UT College of Fine Arts and president of the SNAAP board of directors. “SNAAP is the most thorough and probing source of good alumni-outcome data available to executives and faculty of art and design schools. The research data allows us to quantify our value to higher education and to the cultural life of the nation. The data also guides higher education leaders on program improvements and updates.”

Kevin Hamilton, dean of the UIUC College of Fine and Applied Arts, remarked, “This new effort will add yet greater depth to the evidence-based platform SNAAP has provided arts administrators, educators, scholars and others over the years. By accounting for the ways in which a broader range of arts graduates draw from education in their lives, and especially with respect to the work of artists coming out of minority-serving institutions, SNAAP will help colleges like ours' be of ever greater service in addressing the most needed social and economic reforms.”

About Arts + Design Alumni Research

After a successful decade at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, SNAAP formed a nonprofit organization in Austin, Texas in 2008 with a national board of directors to continue the work. The mission of Arts + Design Alumni Research is to maximize the success and impact of creatives in society by driving evidence-informed change in training and illuminating the value of arts and design education. SNAAP, the national arts alumni survey, addresses key information needs about artist training, work and quality of life and is a leader in enabling scholarship and insights for bolstering the lives and careers of arts graduates.

Among other surprising results, SNAAP surveys have revealed that 6 in 10 graduates of art schools make a living as artists or arts educators, that nearly 90% of art school graduates are satisfied with their careers and the education they received, and that arts school graduates are four times more entrepreneurial than the general population. SNAAP has also revealed that graduates of art schools uniformly feel poorly prepared with the business skills they need in their careers. Since its original findings were announced in 2010, institutions have introduced new programs in career development and entrepreneurship.

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