Metris Arts Consulting

“I have referred to the Creative Placemaking report throughout our year-long vision planning process to imagine, and ultimately help create a new cultural community. I've spent so much time studying it, that I claim to keep a copy under my pillow.” —Wendy Benscoter, SHREVEPORT COMMON Project Manager for Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Shreveport, Louisiana

Who We Are

Metris’ mission is to improve and measure cultural vitality.

Our work in the realm of creative placemaking launched our practice. In 2010, our founder co-authored the seminal report for the National Endowment for the Arts. We remain a leading voice exploring how arts and culture can be an essential tool for community development. Over our ten years in operation, we’ve grown and diversified our services. Our team brings a combined 61 years of experience—it spans government, municipal arts, nonprofit arts administration, research, evaluation, and planning. Most of our staff are also practicing artists. We provide essential services for a range of across the country and globe. Our clients include government agencies, community and arts nonprofits, philanthropic foundations, and developers.

What We Believe

We believe in the power of culture to enrich people’s lives, help communities thrive, empower communities, and cultivate belonging.

Our pledges:

  • Advance equity through our workplace culture and our projects. Advocate for equitable creative community development.
  • Respect and reciprocity: Treat clients, collaborators, and participants in our work with respect. Always strive for reciprocal relationships.
  • People are the experts: Value diverse ways of knowing. Amplify the voices of those closest to the work.
  • Embrace critical learning for staff, clients, and collaborators.
  • Add critical value: Produce work that is rigorous, compelling, and relevant. Make it accessible and widely available.

What We Do

PLANNING

We help clients equitably advance cultural vitality. We connected Grand Rapids, MN with a strategic vision to shape municipal policy and resource allocation for arts and culture. We lead a creative community development planning process for NeighborWorks America. And, we helped Plainfield, NJ assess converting a former church into a cultural arts and education center. We provide:

  • Cultural plans for districts, cities, towns & regions
  • Strategic advice to advance equitable outcomes
  • Creative community engagement
  • Arts-based public participation
  • Cultural asset mapping
  • Public art planning
  • Research for cultural facility development
  • Creative economy/ecology studies

Want to learn more about Metris’ cultural planning philosophy? We invite you to read “A Cultural Planning Manifesto,” written by principal cultural planner Julie Burros, or listen to the American Planning Association’s interview with her for its “The People Behind the Plans” podcast series.

PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT

We help clients fill knowledge gaps so that they can effectively incorporate arts and culture into their work. We’re helping the Pennsylvania State Arts Council develop a pilot program for creative placemaking. We evaluate pilot programs and serve as learning partners within programs. This allows us to foster organizational learning help clients make strategic decisions. We support equitable program and policy development for:

  • Public art
  • Creative placemaking
  • Cultural plan implementation
  • Creative economy initiatives
  • Creative community development
  • Cultural programs
  • Grantmaking
  • Artist residencies & fellowships

RESEARCH for FIELD BUILDING

We use a range of research and communication skills to advance understanding and field building. For a group of foundations, we explored social cohesion and how it relates to place-based arts and cultural strategies. For Americans for the Arts, we synthesized research on the impacts of art on health and well-being. We’ve conducted creative economy/ecology studies for Minneapolis, MN and on California. We:

  • Apply an equity-lens to research work
  • Conduct interviews & focus groups (qualitative research)
  • Use ethnographic techniques (site visits & participant observation)
  • Collaborate with artists on arts-based research & documentation
  • Develop & analyze surveys
  • Wrangle data and analyze stats (quantitative analysis)
  • Execute literature reviews
  • Track, articulate & amplify big-picture developments
  • Produce articles, case studies, white papers, book chapters, and reports
  • Curate webinars and panels
  • Lead workshops and deliver keynotes and presentations

EVALUATION

We help clients understand what difference their efforts make, why, and how. We serve as evaluation and learning partners. Our results help clients course correct. They share their impacts with stakeholders and remain accountable. Others learn from their efforts. We evaluate both local community-arts projects and also support the efforts of national funders. We helped the National Endowment for the Arts develop a theory of change for its creative placemaking grant program. We’ve assessed the impacts of a 20-year grant program on the national dance ecology. We produced a case study of how a creative space in Zimbabwe fosters activism. We developed an indicator system for a cultural district. We’re assessing the Indiana Arts Commission’s evaluation and data collection work to help them develop capacity. We offer:

  • Equity reflection questions, employed throughout the arc of the project
  • Evaluation planning
  • Impact evaluations
  • Process evaluations
  • Developmental evaluations, for real-time feedback within complex interventions
  • Theories of change & logic models
  • Case studies
  • Collaborations with artists on creative evaluation/documentation methods
  • Progress assessments
  • Performance-based budgeting/performance accountability reports
  • Indicator frameworks, using data to monitor implementation and track progress
  • Evaluation coaching, learning cohorts & training

We serve a national client base from our location in Easton, PA. We are a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and a Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) certified through the National Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

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