On January 20, 2010, an audience of 200 business leaders, mayors, members of the US Congress, directors of large urban arts commissions, and media gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

They came to mark the launch of the National Arts Index (NAI), a new research and policy initiative that promised to do for the arts what the Dow Jones Industrial Average did for stock ownership. It would gather large volumes of data on the arts sector and compress them into a single measure....

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