Strategic National Arts Alumni Project

May 1, 2018

Dear Colleague:

For the past 10 years I have had the enormous privilege of helping to guide the development of SNAAP as it has become the gold standard for data on the educational experiences and career paths of artists in North America. The early years were full of challenges as we tried to figure out if it was even possible to successfully mount an online alumni survey. We did it – and did it again, for a total of 9 annual surveys from 2008 to 2017.

Under the research leadership of Steven Tepper, formerly of the Curb Center at Vanderbilt University and now dean of the Herberger Instititute at Arizona State University, we have published dozens of reports and briefs, and SNAAP data have served as powerful original research tools for many scholars who work on the cultural economy and other fields. We have surveyed over 200,000 individuals with arts degrees from 324 institutions in 49 of the United States and 6 Canadian provinces. We produced two major 3 Million Stories conferences that drew on SNAAP data to provide compelling experiences for arts educators in higher education who are interested in making change.

It has been an honor to work with talented and inspiring colleagues here at the Indiana University School of Education’s Center for Postsecondary Research, from SNAAP founding director George Kuh to the current center director, Tom Nelson Laird, as well as the fine SNAAP staff of Angie Miller and Rebecca Houghton. Recognition will always be due to the extraordinary Ellen B. Rudolph, who in her role as arts program officer at Surdna Foundation in the 2000s convinced the Surdna board of trustees to make its largest grant ever to support SNAAP’s creation. Without Ellen, there would be no SNAAP.

From the outset, SNAAP's exceptional National Advisory Board made a commitment to oversee the project and champion SNAAP’s work on behalf of the field. We have seen SNAAP’s mission fulfilled year after year, as many arts schools take their SNAAP data and make effective change in programs and curricula, improving education and training for current and future arts students.

Last year we announced that the 2017 SNAAP survey would be the last annual survey for several years to come. We have learned that it’s just not necessary for institutions to survey their arts alumni every year, because the data do not change much from year to year. We have also learned that the aggregate, national data are highly valued.

Since January, our distinguished National Advisory Board has been transitioning to become a fiduciary board that will take on full responsibility for SNAAP’s future. Please look for a letter in the near future from board chair Douglas Dempster of The University of Texas at Austin about the exciting plans that are in the works for SNAAP and our many partner institutions.

I will be retiring from SNAAP and Indiana University on June 30, 2018. The timing is right, and this new phase in a career of over 40 years in the arts simply means that I will have more time for the activities that already inspire me: local cultural policy work, national arts advocacy, board memberships with Arts Schools Network and Cardinal Stage Company, choral singing, teaching in the IU Arts Administration Program, consulting work, and travel. I hope to see you at conferences and other events in the years to come!

You can continue to reach me at gaskill@indiana.edu.

I want to close by thanking you—each and every one of you who has participated in SNAAP over the years and come to believe in our mission of improving arts education and supporting artists.

With all best wishes,

Sally Gaskill

SNAAP Director (2013-18)
SNAAP Associate Director (2008-2013)

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