Why are we asking...

...for my address?

The Chicago Arts Census uses the American Community Survey (ACS) as a benchmark. The Chicago Arts Census requests geographic information similar to the ACS to have the most accurate comparison. This connection is important because it sheds light on how the arts ecosystem is impacted by government decision-making about funding, housing, public programs, and more.

The Chicago Arts Census does not ask for zip codes, neighborhoods, or wards. The boundaries of neighborhoods and wards are sociopolitically determined and shift over time. Zip codes do not represent an area; they represent a collection of routes. Despite the geographic derivation of most zip codes, the codes themselves do not represent geographic regions. Instead, they correspond to address groups or delivery routes. As such, zip code "areas" can overlap, be subsets of each other, or be artificial constructs with no geographic area (e.g., an army base’s zip code: 095).

To map the Chicagoland arts sector, we request your address or block rounded to the nearest one hundred. We know this is a vulnerable question. In intensive consultation with DataMade and Jayaram Law, the Chicago Arts Census aggregates and anonymizes address information to protect your privacy.

...about well-being?

Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and many sectors of society because it tells us that people perceive their lives positively. Good living conditions (e.g., housing, employment) are fundamental to well-being. Tracking these conditions is important for public policy. Indicators that measure living conditions often fail to measure what people think and feel about their lives, such as the quality of their relationships, positive emotions, resilience, the realization of potential, or overall satisfaction with life—i.e., their “well-being.” [1] Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy. [2] [3]

...about race and ethnicity?

Identities shift over time. How one identifies today may not define how one understands themselves in the past or future. Further, one may not understand their life through the lens of race or may seek to decenter racial predeterminations. The Chicago Arts Census recognizes the erasure, violence, and disruption of self that categorization has performed in the past and continues today. Race is based on cultural, legal, social, and political determinations, with groupings based on balances of power.

The Chicago Arts Census asks about race because we want to visualize the effects of racism. One of our driving questions is how does race as a tool of social categorization affect people's lives, labor, health, and futures because of social inequality? [4]

The Chicago Arts Census asks questions about race and ethnic identities to determine how abundance and scarcity of resources are related to race and ethnicity. Questions about race are not intended to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. The Chicago Arts Census encourages respondents to self-identify and can mark more than one identification. With this data set, we will develop future resources centered on racial equity.

...about disability?

The Chicago Arts Census asks questions about disability to understand the resources that are and are not available for people with disabilities. Labor in the arts negatively and positively affects many in this sector, including those with disabilities. We intend to gather data for organizations and programs to aid the development of future resources. We encourage respondents to self-identify through open text fields; however, we recognize that identifying a disability may be a challenge or risk. The Chicago Arts Census team prioritizes your confidentiality and safety. Please feel free to decline to identify or reach out to us at if you would like to share your experience as a person with a disability..

...about gender and sexuality?

The Chicago Arts Census understands that categorizing sex, gender, and sexuality treats these identities as static. Historically, surveys are slow to integrate contemporary gender theory and lived experiences. However, we include gender and sexuality in the survey to study their role in inequality and understand interlocking structural issues that create our current conditions.

We acknowledge and celebrate the fluidity within and beyond traditional categories of gender and sexuality. The Chicago Arts Census Team incorporated categories for comparison with national surveys on labor and quality of life. While creating the survey, we adapted terms for greater inclusivity and space for evolution. [5]

1 .Diener and Seligman, “Beyond Money: Toward an Economy of Well-Being,” 1-31.
2. Diener, Lucas, and Napa, “The Evolving Concept of Subjective Well-Being: The Multifaceted Nature of Happiness,” 67–100.
3. Frey, Happiness and Economics, 28.
4. Race Forward, “What is Racial Equity?
5. Westbrook and Saperstein, “New Categories Are Not Enough: Rethinking the Measurement of Sex and Gender in Social Surveys,” 534–60.