Dance Data Project® Transparency and Methodology Statement

Dance Data Project® is committed to promoting gender equity in the dance industry, including but not limited to ballet companies, by providing a metrics based analysis. Data is at the core of our mission in helping to uplift women and girls industry wide, and the use of data has been a critical tool in promoting equity and meaningful change within the arts, performing arts, and nonprofit sector. DDP uses annual 990 filings to conduct our research and provide insight into the economic state of the dance industry. Transparency and sharing of such filings is not only good practice, but is federally mandated for nonprofit organizations. Read more below to learn the significance of data in fostering equity, federal regulations surrounding transparency, and the methodology behind DDP’s research efforts.

Why is data important in the arts?

Arts organizations improve society by creating safe spaces to share resources and expertise, hone individual crafts, foster connections between artists and local communities, and bolster creativity, critical thinking, and understanding across a variety of topics. Despite such ambitious goals, many arts organizations are not able to measure their impact, which can make it difficult to articulate performance to boards and other stakeholders, as well as navigate future business decisions (The art of data: Empowering art institutions with data and analytics). Data-driven metrics equip arts organizations with tools to ensure that their work is quantifiable, targeted, and effective. Thus, data and analytics practices can help organizations make informed decisions to advance and support the organization’s mission and goals. 

Because most arts organizations are non-profits, they provide value that cannot always be measured in revenue. Therefore, gathering data from key stakeholders and other involved individuals (i.e., donors, community members, employees, contractors) via surveys, audits, and discussion is important in determining the impact organizations are having on the communities in which they operate. Such data can assist in measuring how arts organizations cultivate social capital within their communities – it can then be leveraged to advocate for the organization’s significance with board members, funding institutions, and the public. This critical relationship with the public depends on trust, and the sole reliable source of trust is transparency. Data can uncover the specifics of an organization’s internal structure, thus requiring leadership personnel to be transparent regarding the organization’s equity initiatives. 

Many arts NFPs, as community stewards, aspire to create more equitable spaces and have utilized metrics to improve such equity. Similarly, data can provide an unbiased point of reference to compare yearly progress regarding societal inequities beyond the organization.  

It is imperative that non-profit dance organizations are transparent in their organizational practices, including but not limited to finances, programming, staffing, and policies to not only build trust, but to continue to make advances towards equity industry-wide. 

By offering performing arts not-for-profits the opportunity to highlight their good practices, we can elevate best practices industry-wide. As Enrich Chicagos first racial equity report for the arts sector of Chicago suggests: “Rather than developing silos in which individual organizations struggle to identify their own flaws or address them, the sharing of audit results allows for a building of solidarities, creating a knowledge network where organizations can learn from each other, share resources, and provide feedback on one another’s change journeys.” Thus highlighting how sharing of data, information, and best practices can benefit all organizations and support meaningful change industry-wide. 

How is Data Being Utilized within the Arts, Performing Arts, and Nonprofit Sectors?

Research and data have been used to inform the creation of new grants, inform practical recommendations for advancing gender and racial diversity, and promote meaningful change within various arts organizations. Examples specific to the arts, performing arts, and the nonprofit sector include:

  1. In October 2022, the FrontOffice Foundation launched a grant for female-identifying mid-career theatre directors in response to the On The Edge study by the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. The study highlighted financial insecurity, fewer job and creative opportunities, gender wage disparities, and the increased likelihood of permanently leaving the field that women experienced during the pandemic. This grant aims to recognize the thriving female directors currently in the field and bring awareness to the barriers these mid-career artists face.
  2. American Theatre Magazine covers theatrical trends and events. They have published many reports on the gender gap in playwriting and the general status of women in U.S. theatre. Their studies found that female authors wrote a significantly lower percentage of plays from 2015 to 2017. However, in 2017, there was greater representation of female writers specifically in the “New-Play” genre. American Theatre also prioritizes creating solutions to counter gender bias and published 7 Steps for Achieving Gender Parity in the Theater Industry in 2015. 
  3. The League of American Orchestras released the 2023 report on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field to support orchestras in their equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. Covering a ten-year period from 2013-14 to 2022-23, the report focuses on diversity among musicians, conductors, staff, executives, and board members. This data-driven approach showcases the power of research as a catalyst for social change, identifying issues, and proposing actionable solutions for meaningful change. 
  4. The Black Opera Alliance (BOA), is an international advocacy organization uncovering racial inequities in opera and monitors US opera companies’ progress on its Pledge for Racial Equity and Systemic Change in Opera. Opera companies self-report data related to the Pledge and the racial makeup of board members, artists, and staff. This self-reported data enables the BOA to evaluate movement toward racial equity of opportunity in the opera sector. 
  5. The 2022 Orchestra Repertoire Report by the Institute for Composer Diversity assessed U.S. orchestras’ programming metrics for women composers, composers of color, and living composers by U.S. orchestras during the 2021-22 season and examines trends since 2015. Despite progress, the report highlights the need for continued improvement, revealing that two-thirds of the works programmed were by deceased white men. The report also proposed best practices for orchestra staff to foster a more equitable programming model. 
  6. Bachtrack, a classical music listings website, utilizes statistics to highlight annual shifts in classical music programming across various events. The platform monitors the most programmed eras, composers, frequently performed works, top contemporary composers, living composers, commissioned conductors, and choreographers. Additionally, Bachtrack employs statistics to assess progress in gender equity within the classical music industry. 
  7. OPERA America conducted two research surveys examining women in leadership positions within the opera sector from 1990 to 2015. One survey focused specifically on general directors/CEOs, and the other focused on all leadership positions. Findings indicated more gender parity in general directors/CEOs among companies with the smallest budgets. Less than eight percent of general directors were women at larger companies. Across all opera company levels, the proportion of female leaders decreased between four to eight percent within a 16-year span. 
  8. Australian researchers examined the production credits for works presented by Australian Opera companies from 2005-2020, revealing significant gender disparities. Only 5% of conductors, 21% of set designers, and 9% of lighting designers were women. Women were less likely to be credited on low-risk canonical works but more likely on higher-risk modern works. Researchers argue these inequalities are exacerbated by government funding policies that encourage companies to mitigate financial risks by programming low-risk productions, underscoring the need for policymakers to consider the broader implications of their policies. 
  9. In 2016, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) investigated the gender gap in art museum directorship, following their 2014 report. The 2016 study revealed that although the gender gap persists, there were modest improvements in pay equity and employment representation. AAMD’s research, spanning from 2013 to 2016, aims to monitor gender equity among art museum directors and foster ongoing inquiry into factors affecting gender equality. 
  10. The Status of Women in the Canadian Arts and Cultural Industries Research Review provides quantitative data on the professional experiences of women artists and cultural workers in Ontario between 2010 and 2018. The report examines workforce and employment patterns, earnings and income, education and training, leadership, and career and industry recognition. Notable findings include the disparity in average income between women and men, with women earning less on average. Additionally, women’s creative and artistic outputs receive less exposure in comparison to men. 
  11. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media examines intersectional onscreen representation of six identities including gender, race, LGBTQIA+, disability, age 50+, and body type. Research has examined representation of caregiving on TV, onscreen representation in children’s television, and representation of older adults in film and television, to name a few examples. They have also developed the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient™ and the Spellcheck for Bias® script analysis system. The institute aims to use data to highlight onscreen inequities and encourage content creators to make changes to combat unconscious bias. 
  12. Recent findings from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative revealed that in 2023, only 30 of the year’s top 100 films featured a female lead or co-lead. This marks the poorest results since 2014. Using data, the Institute provides valuable insight and evidence to highlight where diversity is lacking and advocates social change within the film industry. 
  13. The Women’s Media Center is dedicated to making women visible and powerful in the media. Recent research investigating gender and non-acting Oscar nominations revealed that 32% of non-acting 2024 Academy Awards nominations went to women. While these are positive year-to-year gains, these findings highlight the lack of nominations for women working behind the camera in comparison to men. 
  14. The 2023 Pay Equity Report by the Nonprofit Center of Berkshire analyzed survey responses from 188 entry- and mid-level workers across 43 arts and cultural employers, representing 33 position titles. Findings revealed that around 50% of respondents deemed their pay and benefits “unfair, and expectations unreasonable,” with the average hourly wage just above the surveyed jurisdiction’s minimum wage. Moreover, 65% of employers lack plans to enhance pay equity or are uncertain about the steps to take. 
  15. The Foundation Operations and Management Report from Exponent Philanthropy is a benchmarking resource for foundations with few or no staff. Findings revealed a pay gap between male and female CEOs with men earning 16.8% more than women. Women CEOs only earned 83 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2022, highlighting the significant gender pay gap for women holding the highest leadership positions in philanthropy. 
  16. ArtTable surveyed U.S. arts and cultural workers to provide insight into the arts labor market following the pandemic, noting that the arts workforce typically employs more women. Report findings indicate that compensation is low, with 20.5% of workers reporting salaries below $30,000, and 20.3% making more than $100,000, the majority of whom identify as women or non-men in both categories. Findings also noted that costs associated with appropriate work attire required to maintain jobs disproportionately impacted women. 
  17. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and SMU DataArts utilized financial data from many Chicago arts and cultural organizations to understand trends from 2019 to 2022 in their 2023 Report. Findings indicate that audience attendance and programming revenue have decreased, while organizations are simultaneously faced with increased costs and shrinking budgets. 
  18. The Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ Arts Compensation Project is a data platform for presenting organizations and venues to access real-time compensation and benefits data for working arts professionals across all levels of staff to promote fair compensation. Demographic information is also collected to provide insight into compensation trends through the lens of race and gender.
  19. Dance/NYC’s State of NYC Dance 2023: Findings from the Dance Industry Census surveyed individual workers and entities to provide insight into the economic landscape of the dance industry. Findings underscore persistent systemic inequity, with a predominant presence of freelance and project-based work among dance workers. The report also sheds light on the ongoing challenges stemming from the pandemic and prevalent financial insecurity within the industry.
  20. The Chicago Dance Pay Transparency Project aims to use data to normalize pay transparency within the Chicago dance community. By providing access to this data, dancers can make informed decisions when auditioning for companies or embarking on careers in the professional dance industry. The report provides insight into hourly pay, salaries, stipends, and weekly work hours, sourced from an anonymous self-report survey. 
  21. Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet compared 2013 versus 2023 data examining changes in diversity among dancers from major ballet companies including New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Boston Ballet as these organizations have publicly committed to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism efforts. The snapshot revealed significant increases in the number of Black, Asian American/Asian/Pacific Islander, and Latino American/Latinx dancers in these companies.  
  22. Network science is becoming an increasingly more prominent method of analysis to highlight relationships, collaborations, social networks, and affiliations among workers in the dance industry. Examples include: 
    1. Recent research by Yessica Herrera-Guzmán and colleagues used network science to examine “gendered labor force composition and collaboration patterns in ballet creations.” Using this novel research approach, findings identified the low representation and systemic disparities encountered by women choreographers, and collaboration preferences favoring men. These findings further emphasize the need for more equitable and inclusive practices in ballet. 
    2. Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet created The Constellation Project, a digital exhibit showcasing the interconnections among Black dancers such as Lavina Williams, Mable Freeman, Doris Jones, and Claire Haywood, and other artists, institutions, and white allies. This work has been important in preserving the history of Black ballet artists.  

These examples highlight how data and research are instrumental in examining equity issues in the arts and nonprofit sectors, and understanding and quantifying the long-term impact of these social changes. These recent studies have highlighted the inadequate representation of marginalized groups, however, it is important to also note that representation alone doesn’t guarantee equitable levels of voice, power, or influence. Increasing hiring from underrepresented groups isn’t enough; organizations must also possess the capacity to effectively integrate and support these individuals and acknowledge historical inequities. 

Data has also been utilized by for-profit companies to measure equity progress, often driven by social events. Most recently, Bloomberg News analyzed 2020 and 2021 data for 88 S&P 100 companies, revealing increased hiring of people of color. However, challenges persist in retaining this growth due to resource limitations within organizations. An audit of BlackRock by US Attorney General Eric Holder found that while the company achieved its goal of increasing overall Latinx and Black staffing, high turnover rates among Latinx and Black leadership were also noted. More research is needed to determine if this trend is a momentary blip or if it will develop into a permanent pattern. These studies show that consistent yearly analysis is necessary to see the longstanding effects of social initiatives. The business of sports and quest for inclusion for women report by McKinsey & Company found that women are often the only person of their gender or racial identity or both in sports administration. Additionally, women in sports administration reported a lack of support for career progression and are more likely than their peers in other sectors to feel like they have the right skills to progress, most feel they need to leave their organizations to realize their goals. Additionally, the Women’s Power & Influence Index from Arizona State University’s, The Difference Machine, utilizes data and metrics from these companies to rank companies based on gender policies and quantify inequality, providing an example of how data can be used to monitor progress within the industry as a whole.

Why is transparency important? What are the federal regulations surrounding transparency?

Transparency provides concrete examples of ways to improve and work towards a more equitable, healthy, and safe workplace while also ensuring integrity in procedures and policies. Research shows that higher corporate transparency increases an organization’s value and trustworthiness (Lang et al. 2012; Schnackenberg et al. 2020). Conversely, low corporate transparency leads to poorer business outcomes (Anderson et al. 2009). Perhaps most importantly, transparency is essential for nonprofit organizations to foster relationships with their stakeholders and communities and demonstrate the value that they contribute. Commitment to transparency, accountability, and ethical principles is key to building public trust and confidence in the organization (National Council of Nonprofits). Transparency and accountability are also essential to ensure organizations are using donations and assets responsibly to best support the communities they serve (United States Senate Committee on Finance).

Not only is transparency considered best practice, but tax-exempt organizations are required to provide public access to specific annual returns and exemption applications. This transparency is mandated, as non-profit organizations are established to address public needs in exchange for their exemption from federal taxes. Consequently, the public is a shareholder of the organization and is allowed to request information that directly reflects their interests. It is best practice for the organization to be fiscally transparent, as transparency can help gain the understanding and trust of the public. Being forthright with finances establishes external visibility, allowing individuals to see a complete picture of the organization’s operations and make an informed decision on how to engage further. The success of a non-profit depends on this public engagement, and as a result, the public has a legal right to know how resources are being allocated and utilized to best benefit the intended community. The National Council of Nonprofits has created and curated a large body of resources (including codes of ethics, financial management, transparency, and public disclosure requirements) to highlight actionable ways nonprofit organizations can demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability. 

​​The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is required to make tax-exempt organization forms publicly available. Currently, the IRS lists individual Form 990-series returns filed since January 2018 on their Tax Exempt Organization Search. If the annual filings are not available on the IRS website, the public may submit a Form 4506-A requesting a paper copy or may obtain the documents by contacting the organization directly. The IRS mandates that “tax-exempt organizations must make available for public inspection certain annual returns and applications for exemption, and must provide copies of such returns and applications to individuals who request them.”

The public has the right to inspect and obtain a copy of the following tax documents from tax-exempt organizations:

1) Annual information returns (e.g. Form 990),

2) Exempt status application materials,

3) Notice of status under Internal Revenue Code section 527

(i). The annual returns must be available for a three-year period beginning with the due date of the return, or for an amended return, the date it was filed. Copies usually must be provided immediately in the case of in-person requests and within 30 days in the case of written requests, which includes requests by fax, email, or private courier.

DDP specifically uses annual Form 990 returns to gather financial data about non-profit dance companies.

How We Work: Why DDP’s Studies Are Critical

As a non-profit, Dance Data Project® (DDP) is committed to uplifting the voices of women and girls and promoting gender equity across all aspects of the dance sector. This work is important, as DDP’s research demonstrates significant gender disparity in leadership, compensation, and choreographic opportunities despite the dance industry being predominantly female. Data shows that women comprise the overwhelming majority of the dance industry, representing 87% of the dance workforce (CareerExplorer). Findings from DDP’s The Largest Ballet & Classically Based Companies Leadership Report 2023 indicate that within the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies, there are 13 female and 38 male artistic directors. In terms of compensation, DDP discovered that in FY2022, female artistic directors earned 17 cents less on the dollar ($0.83) than their male counterparts and female executive directors earned three cents less on the dollar ($0.97) than their male counterparts. Additionally, women-choreographed works accounted for only 22.9% of all works presented by companies within the Largest 50 in the 2022/2023 season. These statistics underscore the lack of opportunity for women in the dance industry. To sustain our efforts in promoting gender equity, the dance sector must continue to be qualitatively and quantitatively measured. Companies’ continued participation in our research can help foster a more transparent industry and make advances toward more equitable practices. 

Dance Data Project® provides metrics-based analysis to examine the gender distribution of artistic and administrative leadership in dance companies, venues, and organizations. Using publicly available information, DDP ranks national and international dance companies based on their annual financial reporting from the IRS and other sources, such as ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer and Candid (the merger of Guidestar with Foundation Center).

Using annual 990 filings, we provide a summary of the overall size of the industry and compensation of artistic and executive leadership in three steps: 

  1. Starting in May 2024, DDP will contact companies requesting copies of their fiscal year ending 2023 990 filings. Companies will be contacted following the tax filing deadline and will have 30 days from the request date to respond, in line with IRS regulations which state that nonprofit organizations are required to provide tax returns within 30 days of the written request. 
  2. In addition to these requests, we use proprietary software to process e-filings gathered directly from the IRS, where possible, or other third-party databases when information is not available from the IRS. In cases where amendments were made to a company’s Form 990, DDP utilizes information from the amended 990 filing. 
  3. Following initial data collection using proprietary software, our research team directly verifies information from IRS annual filings. DDP research team members review and verify each other’s work (at least once) to ensure data quality and proper statistical analysis.

Non-profit organizations have a duty to the public, and this responsibility is best honored through transparent practices. As communal stewards, non-profit organizations innately seek the betterment of the community at large. Thus, the sharing of individual qualitative and quantitative research can only strengthen an industry-wide commitment towards greater equity. Dance Data Project® uses data analysis to improve gender parity in the dance sector, and our efforts rely on full data requests being answered to accurately assess the current state of the industry. DDP encourages the dance community to be forthright in its policies and procedures to help advance our mission toward full gender equity.