Surale Phillips


Surale Phillips is a distinguished researcher, having guided countless organizations and agencies through research and consulting projects over the past 20 years. Her work focuses on applied research for assessing market demand, informing community cultural plans, building organizational capacity, and developing marketing and audience development strategies. She has expertise in both quantitative and qualitative research and geographic data mapping systems.

Surale was recruited by WolfBrown in September 2020 to assist with the Audience Outlook Monitor Covid-19 Study, a high profile international study of audience attitudes about attending cultural programs during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, and became a principal of WolfBrown in 2022. She leads a portfolio of market research projects for WolfBrown and is a key thought partner in further developing the Audience Outlook Monitor program as an on-demand research service. She continues as a research partner to firms specialiazing in community cultural planning and public art.

Since 2002 Surale has worked with more than 100 clients in nearly evey discipline and state, in cities large and small. Her work has been the foundation for projects supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Wallace Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Knight Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and various community foundations and redevelopment agencies. Her client base also includes national, state, regional, and local arts service organizations, united arts funds, municipalities, performing arts presenters, theater, opera, and dance companies, symphony orchestras, festivals, museums, and institutions of higher education.

Over the past decade she has led numerous collaborative research initiatives involving cohort learning for cultural organizations in communities such as Orlando (FL), Erie (PA), Memphis (TN), Milwaukee (MI), Kansas City (MO), York (PA), and Syracuse (NY). Exploring the arts’ role in economic development has been a focus of her work for many years, including research and planning assignments in the areas of cultural tourism and economic impact.

Surale speaks frequently at industry conferences and meetings, such as Americans for the Arts National Convention, National Arts Marketing Project Conference, Latino Memphis Congreso, Convening Culture Florida, Raleigh Arts, Southeastern Council of Foundations, Midwest Council on Philanthropy, San Diego Commission on Cultural Affairs, Extraordinary Charities, and the American Folklore Society. In 2022 she led a half-day branding intensive for Miami Arts Marketing Project.

In 2019, Surale launched DRMTM – arts and culture brands reimagined – a collaborative that brings exceptional branding research, messaging, design, and culture together and within reach of the sector’s smaller and midsize organizations. In past years she served on the Montana State Arts Council’s Cultural and Aesthetic Grants Committee (five cycles), as an Adjudicator for the Tennessee Arts Commission Major Institutional Grants, and Research Technical Advisor for Dance USA’s Engaging Dance Audiences program.

From 2005 to 2007, she served briefly as Executive Director for Classics for Kids Foundation. Before founding Decision Support Partners, Inc. in 2002, Surale was Vice President of Research and Administration for a national arts consulting firm for 10 years. She is based in South Florida.