What is the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP)?

SNAAP is an annual online survey, data management and institutional improvement system designed to enhance the impact of arts-school education. SNAAP will provide the first national data on how artists develop in this country, help identify the factors needed to better connect arts training to artistic careers and allow education institutions, researchers and arts leaders to look at the systemic factors that helped or hindered the career paths of alumni, whether they have chosen to work as artists or pursue other paths.

SNAAP is especially timely given the changing environment in which arts training institutions operate: career opportunities are shifting, competition for both students and resources is on the rise and a generational shift in leadership is underway. Institutions require data to respond and plan effectively as well as to fulfill accreditation requirements for alumni outcomes.

SNAAP is administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research (George Kuh, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus) in collaboration with the Vanderbilt University Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy (Steven J. Tepper, Associate Director).

Who is surveyed, and what kinds of questions are asked?

SNAAP defines “the arts” and “arts alumni” broadly, to include the following fields: performance, design, architecture, creative writing, film, media arts, illustration and fine art.

Graduates of institutions that participate in SNAAP are invited to complete SNAAP’s online questionnaire. Beginning with the 2011 administration, all members of every graduating class will be surveyed.

Arts alumni are asked about:

  • satisfaction with curricular and extracurricular experiences
  • current and past education and employment
  • relevance of arts training to work and further education
  • types of art practiced and how often
  • support and resource needs following graduation
  • experiences as teachers
  • income and support, student debt and other financial issues

How is SNAAP administered?

SNAAP partners with arts high schools, art and design colleges and conservatories and arts schools and departments within comprehensive colleges and universities to administer the survey to their graduates. SNAAP is a user-friendly Web-based survey specifically developed to reflect the nonlinear nature of arts training and careers.

What do participating institutions receive?

Institutions receive reports that summarize the lives of alumni since graduation for:

  • comparisons and analysis of the national aggregate group, and peer group, of respondents on key indicators (e.g., graduation rates, percentage pursuing arts careers, non-arts career paths, income levels)
  • confidential internal institutional analyses of their alumni with appropriate comparison groups
  • access to data files for individualized institutional research

Benefits of SNAAP

Why is SNAAP important now?

Arts training institutions have articulated an urgent need for objective data. The information that SNAAP provides is especially timely, given the changing environment in which arts training institutions operate: career opportunities are shifting, competition for both students and resources is on the rise, and a generational shift in leadership is underway. Institutions require data to respond and plan effectively. Accreditation requirements also include data regarding alumni paths.

Who will benefit from SNAAP?

Information gathered through SNAAP benefits arts training institutions, policy makers and arts leaders, as well as parents and students considering intensive arts training. The information provides the first national profile of how artists prepare in this country and allows for deepened understanding of what constitutes artistic success and contribution. In addition, data gathered through SNAAP can assist government entities, funding organizations and arts leaders in making investment decisions in education, training and resource allocation.

For postsecondary institutions that grant degrees in the arts, and arts high schools, SNAAP provides information to:

  • address alumni career needs, enhance developments efforts, and improve institutional hires
  • strengthen curriculum by discovering what aspiring young artists need to advance in rapidly changing arts fields
  • clarify what students learned and how it has been used in both arts and non-arts contexts
  • compare their work to that of similar institutions to identify relative strengths and areas needing attention

For policy makers, community development professionals and funders, SNAAP provides systemic information about:

  • what led artists to pursue careers in the arts and other fields, including financing and other resource factors
  • local and regional arts workforce issues and market patterns for community developers and planners
  • how students who have trained intensively in the arts contribute to the creative economy nationally
  • gaps in the arts training ecology, across disciplines, at different training junctures and across various geographic locales
  • support mechanisms and resources needed to encourage and sustain artists in their most vulnerable five years after school and beyond

For parents and students considering intensive arts training, SNAAP provides information about:

  • arts career paths
  • educational resources
  • the roles of professional relationships
  • obstacles to achieving arts training and professional goals