Arts Incubation Research (AIR) Lab

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is pleased to be selected as a National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab and to collaborate with Americans for the Arts (AFTA) to launch the Arts Incubation Research (AIR) Lab.

The research team will study the intersection of the arts, entrepreneurship, and innovation  at its incubation stage with a research agenda that intends to understand the economic potential of artists as non-conventional entrepreneurs and the impact of the digital divide upon arts-based entrepreneurs.

The main goal of the lab will be to inform arts programs across the nation about how to best integrate an entrepreneurship element into their curriculum. The lab expects to become the leading center of excellence with a focus on arts incubation. The lab will be hosted in the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Department of Music, under the leadership of principal investigator, Dr. Stan Renard. It will also provide a safe space to experiment with arts incubation.

There are now 16 NEA Research Labs, including UTSA, across the country, forming a national network of university-based labs dedicated to investigating the impact of the arts through the social and behavioral sciences and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. These labs illustrate not only the significant role that the arts play in advancing our understanding of other fields but also in showing the effectiveness of diverse teams—including researchers, artists, and arts administrators—working together to produce knowledge. 

Our study will be positioned to answer the following Arts Endowment questions:

  • How do entrepreneurship and innovation reveal themselves differently in the arts relative to other sectors? What is similar?
  • In which industries, sectors, or geographic areas are arts-driven innovation visible and measurable?
  • How do arts-based entrepreneurship and innovation benefits and related outcomes compare with those achieved by non-arts approaches?


Stan Renard
AIR Lab Director and Associate Visiting Professor of Arts Management and Entrepreneurship, Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, The University of Oklahoma

Lead Author, Project Manager, GIS Mapping, On-Site Interviews
Gianluca Zanella
Research Specialist, COB

Co-Author, Digital Divide and Entrepreneurship Skills Analysis


Randy Cohen
Vice President of Research and Information, AFTA

Co-Author, Surveys Design, Dissemination of Surveys, Data Collection and Reporting
Ben Davidson
Senior Director of Research Services, AFTA

Co-Author, Surveys Design, Dissemination of Surveys, Data Collection and Reporting

Technical Working Group

Linda Essig
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs,
Baruch College, NY
Jon Hinojosa
Artistic & Executive Director, Say Si

Tune in to our CODA Podcast for the latest interviews of Artists and Entrepreneurs.

The CODA Podcast is an audio and oral history archive focusing on the music industry, creative entrepreneurs, and the cultural nonprofit sector.

Blog Posts

NEWS! 2021 Profile of Arts Incubator Released on the Americans for the Arts Website

Airlab and the Americans for the Arts fielded the 2021 Profile of Arts Incubators during September and October 2021. The survey collected information about the participating art incubators’ programs, financials, and operating procedures. It also focused on the program delivery implications for arts incubators in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as issues of access and…

New Article by Dr. Zanella and Dr. Renard “Entrepreneurship Engagement in the Arts: The Role of Incubators and Social Media Influencers” has been accepted by the Journal of Enterprising Culture

Our article will be featured in Volume 30 No. 4 of the Journal of Enterprising Culture. Read our abstract below. Abstract: The acknowledgement that entrepreneurship is crucial for economic and social development drives a growing number of educational programs that focus on a wide range of audiences. Nevertheless, some communities are less receptive to entrepreneurship…

Research Article on Network Effects of Arts Incubators Featured in the NADAC Archive and Spotlighted in Arts Research Quarterly, Issue 4, February 3, 2022

Arts Research Quarterly is a sampler of research articles on the arts ecosystem and on the arts’ value and impact for individuals and communities, based on data housed at NADAC and elsewhere. New issues are released quarterly. Arts Research Quarterly and NADAC are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Sign up to join NADAC…


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The opinions expressed in materials on this website are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Research & Analysis or the National Endowment for the Arts. The Arts Endowment does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included in these materials and is not responsible for any consequences of its use. This NEA Research Lab is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (Award #: 1861816-38-C-20).


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