About Jennifer Novak-Leonard
Jennifer Novak-Leonard, PhD, is Research Associate Professor and Research Director of the Arts Impact Initiative in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Her work focuses on the social roles of arts, artists, and creativity; how they impact people and communities; and implications for policy and practice. She specializes in the development and use of novel measurement systems to understand cultural participation and the personal and public values derived from these experiences to inform multiple domains of public and social policy. Her research examines racial, ethnic, and socio-economic inequities in outcomes and opportunities for arts, artists, and movements toward cultural democracy.
Novak-Leonard has also led numerous applied research efforts, including those funded by the National Endowment for the Arts; The James Irvine Foundation; the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, among others. Recently, she led the redesign of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. Her scholarly publications span research on the public perceptions of artists; public funding; arts as a means of immigrant integration; and measuring the intrinsic impacts of arts experiences. From 2016-2020, Novak-Leonard was the Principal Investigator of one of the four inaugural National Endowment for the Arts’ Research Labs. She serves as the Board Vice President and Research Director for the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and on the editorial advisory boards of Cultural Trends, Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, and The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society.
Prior to joining the University of Illinois, Novak-Leonard served as a director of graduate study at Northwestern University. She has served as the Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, and has held appointments at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. Previously, Jennifer was a Senior Consultant at WolfBrown.
- PhD in Policy Analysis, RAND Graduate School
- Masters of Public Policy, University of Chicago
- BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Research and publications
Ongoing and upcoming research
Research Director, Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), which addresses key information needs about artist training, work and quality of life and is a leader in enabling scholarship and insights for bolstering the lives and careers of arts graduates.
Co-PI with Associate Professor Andrew Greenlee, Central Illinois’ Cultural Assets: Mapping Resources, People and Meaning to propel Community and Economic Vitality; supported by University of Illinois Extension. To help address the statewide issue of recovery from the economic and social toll of the pandemic on creative and cultural workers, and cultural life in Illinois communities, the purpose of this project is to generate an expansive mapping of creative and cultural assets in Peoria, IL.
Novak-Leonard, J., Rugg, G., Reynolds, M. & Hafford, C. (2018). The Role of the Arts and Creative Expression in Employability & Economic Opportunity. Chicago: NORC. http://bit.ly/RoleoftheArtsCreativeExpressioninEmployabilityEconomicOpportunity
Novak-Leonard, J. & Skaggs, R. (2017). “Public Perceptions of Artists in Communities: A Sign of Changing Times.” Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts 6 (2), 5-22. https://journals-press.kube.uark.edu/artivate/article/view/70
Novak-Leonard, J. et. al. (2015). The Cultural Lives of Californians: Findings from the California Survey of Arts & Cultural Participation. Chicago: NORC. http://bit.ly/CulturalLivesofCalifornians
Novak-Leonard, J., O’Malley, M., Truong, E. (2015). “Minding the gap: elucidating the disconnect between arts participation metrics and arts engagement within immigrant communities.” Cultural Trends 24 (2), 112-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2015.1031477
Brown, A. & Novak-Leonard, J. (2013). “Measuring the intrinsic impacts of arts attendance.” Cultural Trends 22 (3/4), 223-233. https://doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2013.817654
Novak-Leonard, J. & Brown, A. (2011). Beyond Attendance: A multi-modal understanding of arts participation. Research Report #54. Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts. http://bit.ly/BeyondAttendance
Teaching and advising
Prior teaching includes courses on addressing racism in the arts and entertainment fields, arts and public policy, and survey research methods.