posted by Michael Fahlund — Jul 16, 2009
As part of information-gathering pursuant to the preparation of CAA’s 2010–2015 Strategic Plan, a 2009 member survey was developed, coordinated, and carried out by a team under the leadership of Elizabeth Knapp, vice president in the Research Division of the marketing firm Leo Burnett Worldwide, to determine member preferences, awareness of CAA publications and programs, and motivations for joining and renewing membership.
In total, 1,451 CAA members responded to the online survey, a response rate of 11 percent (which is within an acceptable range for statistical analysis). The final sample was then weighted to accurately reflect the total CAA membership based on membership type. The results are an enlightening view into CAA members’ views and opinions, revealing important strengths but also giving direction to how the organization can use the next strategic plan to improve its programs and services.
Demographically speaking, CAA members are more likely to be female (70 percent), within the age range of 35–49 (34 percent), Caucasian (87 percent), and in academic settings (73 percent), and to have ten years or more of professional experience (48 percent).
The top three reasons individuals gave for joining CAA and renewing their memberships were for job postings (69 percent), networking (54 percent), and debate in the visual arts (50 percent).
CAA is perceived as most relevant to art historians (78 percent agree). From artist members, enthusiasm for ARTspace at the Annual Conference was one of the higher-ranking areas of interest (61 percent). CAA is viewed as a well-known organization among peers (75 percent agree) and a well-run organization (51 percent agree). Members who responded to the question about CAA’s roles believe the most important are advocacy for artists, art historians, and university art museums (24 percent), a conference provider (21 percent), and a leader of creative and intellectual discourse (17 percent). The most common contact points between members and CAA are through publications and emails. The Art Bulletin has the strongest reputation among members (64 percent). The most used features of the CAA website are membership renewal (76 percent), conference registration (70 percent), and CAA News (60 percent). At least half the members also visit the CAA website regularly. A near majority of members (45 percent) have interest in social networking through CAA.
The CAA Annual Conference is perceived as important for networking (68 percent) and career development (62 percent), an opportunity for intellectual exchange about the visual arts (58 percent), and relevant to professional development (53 percent). At the conference, members mostly likely attend sessions (76 percent), the Book and Trade Fair (65 percent), and, as noted above, ARTspace (61 percent). The most popular conference topics are criticism and theory (33 percent) and contemporary art history (31 percent).
The most popular publication topics for the future are curriculum development for teaching studio and art-history courses; legal and copyright issues in publishing; career-development strategies; and standards and guidelines in the visual arts in academia. Members agree that digital publications are valuable because they can be searched online (76 percent), are environmentally friendly (71 percent), can expand readership and distribution (59 percent), and can include dynamic content (56 percent). Members are undecided on the future of digital publications, but 49 percent of respondents do not favor online, non–peer reviewed publications.
CAA continues to advocate on issues of importance to members and to the visual arts. Among these, members feel that full-time vs. adjunct status is most important (50 percent), followed by intellectual-property issues (38 percent) and salary equity (39 percent).
In efforts to increase its visibility and recognition for the programs and services it provides, CAA is eager to know how members react to or view its name. While some members felt that the name “College Art Association” or “CAA” is not descriptive of what the organization does, or that it does not fit the mission, 65 percent believe that the name is understood in the field of visual arts. Name recognition and identity will be assessed as part of CAA’s communications activities in the strategic plan.
Other directions gathered from this survey that will be addressed in the strategic plan are to: 1) increase programming and publications for artists; 2) attract more young professionals; 3) increase the diversity of members; 4) increase career-development sessions at the conference; 5) increase interactive communications; 6) develop practical peer-reviewed publications; and 7) continue working on advocacy issues, particularly related to adjunct faculty.
CAA thanks its members for participating in this recent survey. Comments and responses have been extremely helpful and are being used to guide changes and improvements in the organization’s services.