When the Cultural Data Project (CDP) reporting process was rolled out some years ago, it seemed a great idea – arts organizations could complete one comprehensive online report that would work for a slew of grant makers. It didn’t take long for reality to set in. We would in fact be digging really deeply into all aspects of our organization to conduct a comprehensive survey AND the rest of the reporting work didn’t seem to go away. Then there were the scary e-mails from CDP outlining all the errors in our reports and worse than that were phone calls from extremely perky and helpful CDP staffers asking about the intricacies of long-forgotten calculations.
But CDP has been working diligently to turn what was perceived as a burden into a valuable resource. Becoming an independent organization a year ago, CDP is reinforcing its goal to be a “powerful online management tool designed to strengthen arts and cultural organizations.”
New tools have made the online system easier to use and expanded educational offerings help the field use data more effectively to tell the organization’s story. In addition, CDP is now the holder of a vast collection of original data from the field, which is available for cultural research projects (by application).
CDP is promising more great things ahead, while “building critical information resources and skills that will advance the sector in the future.” The field will eventually find that what was once a burdensome drain will actually help us tell our stories to funders, audiences, and stake-holders, and will enrich the field. And in any case, those of us who are in New York State now have Grants Gateway to deal with. One day, perhaps, we will appreciate having all our documents in an online vault and realize that it’s good for the sector.