National Archive of Data on Arts and Culture

This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC). NADAC is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A Survey of the Arts in Everyday Life 2002 (ICPSR 35242)

Principal Investigator(s): Wali, Alaka, Field Museum. Center for Cultural Understanding and Change; Severson, Rebecca; Longoni, Mario


A Survey of the Arts in Everyday Life 2002 examined the involvement of Chicago-area individuals in "informal" arts activities, such as acting in community theater, singing in a church choir, writing poetry at the local library, or painting portraits in a home studio. This survey was a significant component in the larger study "Informal Arts: Finding Cohesion, Capacity and Other Cultural Benefits in Unexpected Places," which was a two and a half year study of the informal arts in Chicago undertaken by Columbia College Chicago's Center for Arts Policy. The research was undertaken by Principal Investigator Alaka Wali Ph.D., ethnographers Rebecca Severson M.A. and Mario Longoni M.A., the survey statistician Kevin Karpiak, and dedicated interns and professional volunteers. Elena Marcheschi J.D. took on the overall responsibilities of Project Director. This survey is used frequently to reinforce and expand on ethnographic findings drawn from a series of case studies and at large fieldwork. The University of Illinois Survey Lab assisted in the survey design. As part of the strategy to triangulate the data sources, the survey instrument was designed to test researchers' findings and to gather additional data on areas such as participants' depth of involvement in civic life. The questionnaire contained 67 questions divided into broad topical areas such as organizational dynamics, networks, resources and barriers, and visibility of arts, in addition to demographics. The sampling goal was to get a census of all the participants at each case study location at a given moment in time. Most of the questionnaires were mailed to participants. Other questionnaires were either hand-delivered or emailed. During August 2001, 165 of the 310 recipients completed and returned the survey. Partial funding for this study was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Urban Institute/Arts and Culture Indicators in Community Building Project (ACIP), and Columbia College Chicago.

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


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Study Description


Wali, Alaka, Rebecca Severson, and Mario Longoni. A Survey of the Arts in Everyday Life 2002. ICPSR35242-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-05-27.

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This study was funded by:

  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Illinois Arts Council
  • Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
  • Urban Institute
  • Columbia College Chicago

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    art galleries, artists, arts, arts audiences, arts education, arts participation, dance, education, everyday life, household income, income, museums, music, opera, organizations, theater

Geographic Coverage:    Chicago, Illinois, United States

Time Period:   

  • 2001

Date of Collection:   

  • 2001-08

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Informal arts participants in the Chicago Metropolitan area.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Others contributed to this study. Kevin Karpiak served as the statistician. Elena Marcheschi J.D. was the Project Director. The University of Illinois Survey Lab contributed to the survey design for this project.

This data collection was previously distributed by the Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive (CPANDA). The CPANDA Identification Number (study number) for this data collection is a00121. CPANDA conducted the following processing steps for release of this collection: produced a codebook, checked for undocumented codes, performed consistency checks, provided frequencies, performed recodes, and reformatted the data.

To protect the anonymity of respondents, all variables that could be used to identify individuals have been masked or recoded. For details regarding these changes, please refer to the Codebook Notes provided in the ICPSR Codebook in this data collection.

Due to the limit in the number of allowable columns of 256 in Excel 97-2003 (file ending, xls), the Excel file being distributed with this collection is in the later version of Excel (file ending of xlsx).


Study Design:   

A total of 165 Chicagoans completed a self-administered survey that was distributed to a selected population of informal arts participants in August 2001. Most of the questionnaires were mailed to respondents. In some cases, the questionnaires were hand-delivered, and in other cases, electronic versions of the questionnaire were emailed. When a questionnaire was hand-delivered to artists in groups, it was on the occasion of a meeting of the group, so the only active members that might not have been included in the distribution were those not at that meeting. Mailings went to lists of members compiled during fieldwork or obtained from the groups and individual artists were sent the instrument individually. Through this method, researchers attempted to obtain a census, not a sample, of the case study participants. At locations where there was a high turnover in participants, survey-takers were sometimes people who had not participated in the earlier ethnographic fieldwork. At locations where there was a low turnover, many of the people who participated in the prior fieldwork also completed a survey. In almost all cases, the surveys were returned to the researchers by mail.

The sampling frame was all participants at a given moment in time in each of twelve different informal arts settings: Chicago theater (church basement), suburban theater (public park recreation center), Asian music ensemble (church basement), quilting guild (public park field house), church choir (church), drum circle (public park), painting class (public park), writing group (public library branch), artists who share the same employer (large cultural institution), individual visual artists (homes/studios), masters and apprentices of ethnic and folk arts (homes/studios), and hip-hop artists (homes). These 12 case studies were selected to reflect a variety of artistic disciplines and a range of locations throughout the Chicago metropolitan region. The survey was administered near the end of the field research stage of a larger study, which employed multiple research methodologies including participant-observation, open-ended and semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. The University of Illinois Survey Lab assisted in the design of the survey, and data were collected by the Chicago Center for Arts Policy.

Sample:    A series of eight focus groups were convened with artists, leaders, and members of arts organizations. Four focus groups were held at Columbia College Chicago, two were held in public parks, and two were held in public libraries. Ethnographers visited sites of informal arts participation that had been mentioned in focus groups and other sites that were identified through newspapers and other media outlets. Performances were observed and participants were interviewed. Based on this preliminary work, ethnographers selected a set of twelve case studies of informal arts venues or practitioners (see Study Design for details). Selection criteria included the following items: examining the major types of art making, different geographic locations across the city including a suburban location, a "spectrum" of the degree of informality, and ease of access. Ethnographers began a period of participant-observation, during which they joined the group participation, tried to learn the art, and conducted in-depth interviews with key informants at the case study sites. Toward the end of the field research phase, a survey questionnaire was distributed to 310 artists at the case study sites, representing almost a complete universe of core participants in the case studies.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Mode of Data Collection:    mail questionnaire, on-site questionnaire

Description of Variables:    The variables for this data collection provide information about broad topical areas such as organizational dynamics, networks, resources and barriers, and visibility of arts. As well, demographic variables, such as respondents' educational attainment, race, age, and sex are included in this data collection.

Response Rates:    The total response rate for this data collection was 53 percent.

Restrictions: Users of the data must agree to the Terms of Use presented on the NADAC Website and available through the link in each codebook.


Original ICPSR Release:   2015-05-27

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