Social change is both the process and effect of efforts to positively alter societal conditions. It encompasses a range of outcomes—healing, increased awareness, attitudinal change, more diverse and increased civic participation, movement building, and policy change to name just a few.

Civic engagement encompasses the many ways that people may get involved in their communities to consider and address civic issues. Civic engagement can be a measure or a means of social change. In arts-based civic engagement, the creative process and resulting art work/experience can provide a key focus, catalyst, or space for civic participation, whether it is becoming better informed or actively contributing to the improvement of one’s neighborhood, community, and nation.

From urban interventions to youth development through theater to public art that explores our relationship to the environment to cultural organizing—creative social change work encompasses the myriad ways that the arts are being activated to engage people and make impact. Animating Democracy’s LANDSCAPE gives a big picture of individuals and organizations doing and supporting arts for change work.

Measuring the difference that we’re making in our arts for change work involves knowing what to look for as indicators of change and how to collect that evidence. Whether you are just starting to explore foundational terms and frameworks or want to dive right into evaluation tools and case studies, Animating Democracy’s Impact section is a storehouse of resources to help advance your evaluation work.

Looking for ways to build evidence of your impact? Check out the Social Impact Indicators section of Animating Democracy’s website for ways to express common social and civic outcomes. See how to translate outcomes to evidence you can measure. Learn different data collection strategies including how to effectively collect and analyze qualitative data.

Browse Animating Democracy's full directory of social change artist profiles and narrow your search by issue areas, disciplines, populations engaged, and more. To find groups and artists making social impact within a larger context, check out our Trend Papers by topic.

Animating Democracy is a program of Americans for the Arts that inspires, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to civic and social change. Working locally, nationally, and across sectors, Animating Democracy creates useful resources for artists, cultural, and community leaders, and funders; builds knowledge about quality engagement and evaluation; and brings national visibility to arts for change work.

No, unfortunately we don’t make grants at this time, but you might want to take a look at the Funding materials on our site.

Topic Page News Tabs

May 19, 2015

Learn about how art helps transform communities AND get the opportunity to write for Americans for the Arts’ ARTSBlog this Summer!

May 13, 2015

Americans for the Arts is pleased to be holding its 2015 Annual Convention in Chicago, a diverse city that embraces artists, creators, and innovators.

Jul 12, 2016

Detailed stories of the five collaborative projects provide an illuminating and instructive look at how collaboration between artists and municipal government can achieve more diverse participation and greater equity in public process.

Jun 09, 2016

At the intersection of 60th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in West Oakland, California, is a huge wall-length mural titled “Silence the Violence

Jun 08, 2016

At a time when the number of pedestrian traffic deaths is increasing as urban residents are encouraged to walk and bike more, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) is committing to creativity and innovation by hiring a sound artist to help fix the issue.

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Jul 13, 2016

Following are 15 highlights from our recent public opinion survey, “Americans Speak Out about the Arts.” You can download these 15 highlights as a handy one-pager...

Jul 13, 2016

It is undeniable—the arts transform people and communities every day. There are many studies that document the social, educational, and economic benefits of the arts to communities. But how does the American public feel about the arts? Do they value artistic activities and arts education?...

Jun 23, 2016

We welcomed Donna Brazile, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and prominent political strategist, to the 2016 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention as one of our Saturday keynotes in Boston. Below is an excerpt of her speech on the volatile politics we’re living with...

Explore the funding landscape for creative social change.
Funder Portraits – See a collection of portraits (trend papers and podcast interviews) highlighting funders who are doing notable work in the arts and social change.  
Funder Directory – Take a look at the various resources put together to reflect the perspectives of funders on the evaluation and impact of the arts on social change.