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.

Mar 11, 2015

Americans for the Arts has announced the New Community Visions Initiative, part of the large-scale Transforming America’s Communities Through the Arts, a $10.5 million suite of programs set to generate national dialogue and engage key stakeholders over the next three years. The New Community Visions Initiative will explore the future of local arts in America and the role of community-based arts that enable organizations, funders, cultural institutions, and artists to shape healthier communities over time. 

Oct 28, 2015
Purple Dreams, a documentary that chronicles a powerful theatre arts success story in an urban high-school, promises to be a model illustration of why the nation must embrace public arts education and recognize its immense role in producing engaged, successful, college and career-ready students.
GreyHawk Films is currently in post-production on their feature length documentary that is an inspirational testimony to the transformational power of arts in education, particularly in underserved at-risk communities.
Oct 14, 2015

The New York City Council announced on October 11 that it would double its investment—now $3.2 million—for the city’s Cultural Immigrant Initiative. Established last year, the Initiative funds 77 groups that focus on the cultural history and traditions of immigrant communities throughout New York City’s five boroughs. 

Aug 26, 2015

On the 10th anniversary of one of our country's worst natural disasters, New Orleans makes room to process the events of Hurricane Katrina, celebrate what has been accomplished so far, and highlight the rebuilding that still needs to be done. 

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is one of many cultural institutions hosting a special interactive exhibit for visitors and city residents. The basement walls of the museum are covered with neatly printed cards of stories from survivors. 

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Oct 30, 2015

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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.