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Full-time ,
submitted by
Nancy Saysavanh

Visiting Research Specialist

The University of Illinois is seeking a talented researcher who would like to research jobs in the creative arts in Illinois to inform workforce development in the state’s tech sector and beyond. The researcher does not need to have experience with both the arts and workforce research. Instead, we are seeking someone with an arts, workforce, and/or research background who would like to apply their talents to this exciting new role, as well as learn more about the fields in which they have less background knowledge.

Strong applicants will bring a vision for how their research skills can be used to examine arts workforce development and other emerging questions in the context of a robust, multi-institutional network of scholarly, community, and corporate partners. Successful candidates will bring a record of accomplishment as evidenced through some combination of scholarly publication, funded research, or demonstrable service to non-profit or arts organizations. Core competencies would include some knowledge of quantitative analysis of large data sets common to the study of workforce and economic development in addition to the ability to translate evidence-based data and research to both public and private partners for improved decision-making.

The research specialist is based in the Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative (IWERC) at the University of Illinois' Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), and supported by a multi-institutional partnership through the Arts Impact Initiative in College of Fine Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Champaign. This partnership brings together IWERC, DPI, and arts colleges at both the University of Illinois’ Chicago and Champaign campuses and Arts Alliance Illinois—the state’s only statewide organization focused on the strength of Illinois’ arts and culture. The goal of this three-year fellowship is to serve as “proof of concept” in support of deeper collaborations across these and other organizations toward achieving nation-leading and transformative improvements in how Illinois identifies, prepares, supports, trains, and employs creative workers.Additional responsibilities include:

CREATIVE WORKFORCE efforts (approx. 70% of allocated effort)

· Twice annual publicly disseminated issue briefs on arts workforce, based on key data sets including population and economic surveys of the Department of Labor, workforce, and arts policy.

· Supporting associated research for the Illinois Creative Workforce Activation project, including workforce pathways, skill mapping, cross training needs in high growth creative industries in Illinois, as well as high growth well-aligned roles outside of the creative sector.

· Identification and framing of new research needs the role of racial and ethnic minority workers within arts labor in comparison to other sectors, and the social and economic results of investment in those workers.

· Representing the arts in the broader workforce research and advocacy efforts at IWERC and DPI, more broadly.

BROADER RESEARCH efforts (approx. 30% of allocated effort)

· Independent research that provides a research alternative to the exclusive framing of economic impact as the driver of investment for the arts and culture sector, blending both key economic impact metrics with available social impact data to frame a broader picture of the role of arts and culture in community. Approaches could include asset mapping and inventorying of arts and cultural resources across the state.

· Responding to research needs arising from an annual policy agenda-setting process driven by the Illinois Arts Community. Potential policy priorities and/or related research interests: justification for increased public funding for creative sector at state level (comparative studies demonstrating size of Illinois creative economy and relatively low level of investment from state); understanding impact of guaranteed income programs on artists and importance of including artists in broader programs supporting low income workers; impact of pandemic unemployment assistance for gig creative workers; etc.

· Respond to commissioned research needs from nascent national advocacy coalitions (BIPOC-led arts advocacy coalition, Creative States Coalition) to support their collective work -could range from studying the impact of formal advocacy organizations on respective state public funding levels to a landscape assessment/asset mapping of BIPOC artist-centered arts activism and advocacy work nationwide.

· Represent the arts within the broader work of IWERC, identifying opportunities for enhancing other workforce development through the addition of creativity and design-based approaches.

· Identification and pursuit of funding and other sponsored partnerships in support of a sustained research agenda.

UIUC, UIC, DPI, and Arts Alliance will jointly support this position for an initial three-year period with a goal of securing additional resources in support of the role beyond the pilot years. During that time, a Research Advisory constituted by leadership from the aforementioned institutions will guide prioritization of research within the above goals, while UIUC and UIC each provide research infrastructural support commensurate with what faculty enjoy, and access to a broader scholarly community of social scientific researchers. An Illinois Creative Workforce Committee composed of representatives from this multi-institutional partnership also will convene bi-annually to review the fellow’s research agenda and progress, ensure relevance to all parties, pursue additional funding and/or sponsored partnerships to support the sustained research agenda, and support dissemination of research and information generated.

This work builds on current work underway through the Arts Impact Initiative at UIUC, supported by the Presidential Initiative and in conversation with Arts Alliance and UIC. The long-term goal of this effort is to demonstrate the unique applicability and need for such expertise toward the establishment of a longer-term “cultural observatory” supported by the university system with regular and explicit guidance from the Arts Alliance and other policy sector actors.


Ph.D. (or pending Ph.D.) in the arts (e.g., Art, Architecture, Dance, Music), education, economics, or a related field.

Knowledge and Experience:

· Demonstrable commitment to the arts, through either prior research or service.

· Experience analyzing large data sets, using appropriate statistical tools.

· Experience writing publication-quality research manuscripts.

· Experience with applied research and comfort adapting research approaches and ways of sharing findings to the needs of the sector(s) that will put the research findings to practical use.

· Ability to be a self-starter, taking initiative in developing new lines of research and collaboration.

· Comfort working collaboratively, contributing to a collective vision, and giving/receiving hard, actionable feedback.

· History of being highly ethical in professional conduct, research conduct, and interactions with internal and external colleagues and partners.

Appointment Information

This is a full-time, 12-month Academic Professional position. The salary for this position begins at $85,000 and will be commensurate with experience.

Application Procedures & Deadline Information

For full consideration, candidates must apply and submit a letter of application, resume, and names/addresses/phone numbers of three professional references by 6pm 3/1/2023 or visit

System Human Resource Services

(217) 333-2600

The University of Illinois System is an equal opportunity employer, including but not limited to disability and/or veteran status, and complies with all applicable state and federal employment mandates. Please visit Required Employment Notices and Posters to view our non-discrimination statement and find additional information about required background checks, sexual harassment/misconduct disclosures, COVID-19 vaccination requirement, and employment eligibility review through E-Verify.

Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply and may request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (2008) to complete the application and/or interview process. Requests may be submitted through the reasonable accommodations portal, or by contacting the System Human Resource Services, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at 217-333-2600, or by emailing

Contact Info:
Gracie Pena
Job Type: Freelance/Contract/Temp
Location: Chicago, IL