Set in Stone—RGK researchers collaborate on study of America’s “cultural infrastructure”

Thu, 06/28/2012

by Dr. Peter Frumkin and Ana Kolendo

The RGK Center’s former director Peter Frumkin and research associate Anastasia Kolendo collaborated on a national study of arts facilities published by the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. Set in Stone looks at the major building boom of museums, performing arts centers, and theaters in the United States from 1994 to 2008. The goal of the study was to establish research that would serve as a resource for any cultural group in the country involved in planning the construction, renovation, or expansion of its facilities. The work was based on interviews with people in more than 500 organizations and drew data from more than 700 building projects, including both new facilities and major renovations.

Set in Stone is a joint project of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. The study was supported by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Read the final report and access related resources here.

Data from the study are the basis for a book by Frumkin and Kolendo forthcoming in 2013 from the University of Chicago Press. Building for the Arts: Toward Strategic Design looks at the complex process of building major cultural facilities and proposes a conceptual framework and theory of successful cultural infrastructure construction. A related video, What Building Projects Can Teach Us About Big Decisions, narrated by Peter Frumkin, gives management advice for people involved in projects.