Boise State Researchers Receive National Grant To Study Universities' Effect On Local Arts

May 7, 2015

The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is based in Boise, Idaho.

Two Boise State University professors have received a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to study the relationship between three western universities and their local arts scenes.

Amanda Johnson-Ashley and Leslie Durham will spend three years examining how Boise State, Colorado State and University of Nevada, Reno serve as cultural anchors in their cities.

Durham says the goal will be to make comparisons across the three universities to try and learn what will help universities have a more positive impact on their local arts communities, and support artists in the best ways possible. 

One example, Durham says, is Boise State artists participating in the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise.

“We’re just looking to help people see some of those relationships,” she says. “Because I’m not sure that they are always visible to people.”

The NEA grant will make up most of the funding the pair needs to complete the study. 

“This isn’t the kind of study that’s been done in terms of arts economic development and artistic labor forces,” Durham says. “But you see studies that talk about the technology sector or biomedical research and how universities serve as anchors for those industries, and so that’s what’s innovative about our study.”

Durham and Johnson-Ashley have already worked as research partners. The duo this spring released the results of a comprehensive survey of Boise area artists.    

Find Scott Graf on Twitter @ScottGrafRadio

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio