Dallas's Southern Methodist University has announced a new arts research center that aims to collect and provide information on arts attendance and patronage, the impact of the arts on local communities, and the fiscal stability of the arts in the U.S.

With a budget of $750,000 for its first three years, the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) has been created by SMU's Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business in collaboration with Philadelphia's Cultural Data Project (CDP) and other organizations.

The founding director is Zannie Voss, chair and professor of arts management and arts entrepreneurship in the Meadows and Cox schools; founding research director is Glenn Voss, professor of marketing at Cox.

"The research and analysis at NCAR will result in an in-depth assessment of the industry that allows arts and cultural leaders to make more informed decisions and improve the health of their organizations," said Voss in a press release. "Findings will serve as a catalyst for discussion within the arts about how to collectively seize opportunities and address critical issues."

NCAR plans to offer an online "dashboard," designed by IBM, into which arts organizations can enter fiscal and attendance data to compare their organizations with their peers. NCAR also plans an annual online "state of the arts" report. Its website launched last night.

The CDP, formerly part of the Pew Charitable Trusts, collects data from more than 14,000 arts organizations in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Further information will be gleaned from sources such as the Theatre Communications Group, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau and the National Center for Charitable Statistics.