We are excited to announce the launch of Ithaka S+R’s collaboration with the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums (BTA).

BTA, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a membership organization working to increase the inclusion of Black perspectives and narratives in North American art museums to make these institutions more equitable and excellent spaces of cultural engagement. Using programming, research, and strategic communications, BTA is helping its members–Black trustees of art museums–address inequities in staffing and leadership; exhibitions, collections, and programming; and contracting and service provision at their institutions.

Since 2014, Ithaka S+R has produced an array of research addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the cultural sector. This work has been conducted in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the American Alliance of Museums, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and others. Our intent has always been to facilitate positive change and to cultivate equity within the arts and culture community.

Ithaka S+R and BTA share an interest in generating impactful research on issues of representation and identity in the arts. Our first research project together is the Art Museum Trustee Survey, deployed with support from AAMD and funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The survey will gather data about the experiences and demographics of trustees at art museums across North America to inform a final report published in spring 2022. This report will include additional insights from interviews, as well as recommendations and tools for art museums to strengthen and monitor their DEI efforts. The Art Museum Trustee Survey opened November 9. 

Through our partnership, BTA has recently hired a research and data fellow who will be hosted by Ithaka S+R. Underwritten by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this fellowship provides an opportunity for emerging professionals with interests at the intersection of BTA’s mission with research and data analysis. We are pleased to share that BTA has selected Deirdre Harkins as the inaugural  research and data fellow. Deirdre holds a master’s degree in world history and a bachelor’s in anthropology and linguistics. She is trained in statistical analytics and data visualization, and she has conducted research on race, identity, and migration in the Americas. Deirdre will work closely on the Art Museum Trustee Survey and receive mentorship and professional development from the Ithaka S+R team, while contributing to other projects with us over the next year. Read more about Deirdre on our website.

We look forward to expanding our collaboration with BTA to bring rigorous evidence to bear on issues of equity and representation in the arts and cultural sectors. Please reach out to Kara Bledsoe (Kara.Bledsoe@ithaka.org) with any inquiries concerning the Art Museum Trustee Survey. Ithaka S+R and BTA also welcome your suggestions for future work and cooperation. To share interest in that vein, please contact Liam Sweeney (Liam.Sweeney@ithaka.org) or Brooke Minto (brooke@blacktrusteealliance.org)