What happens when artists, arts groups, or arts projects take on social problems—either as a form of artistic inspiration, or with a direct intention to make a difference? Can they change people or communities or policies for the better? If so, how can that impact be tracked, measured, communicated, encouraged—and supported?

2011 National Arts Policy Roundtable HighlightsThese were among the vital topics explored during the sixth annual Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable, Innovating for Impact: Arts-Based Solutions for a Stronger America, convened on September 22-24, 2011, at the Sundance Resort and Preserve in partnership with the Sundance Institute.

Thirty-five leaders from the highest levels of government, business, philanthropy, the arts, and the social sector were charged with recommending strategies for collective action that encourage and support the arts as partners in community problem-solving, and as agents of change.

The roundtable participants made the following recommendations:

  1. Deepen Strategic Alliances Across Sectors: Expand strategic alliances across sectors that promote and establish common cause between the arts and proponents of civic dialogue, deliberation and engagement.
  2. Communicate the Value of the Arts: Build a community of shared value with the arts and creativity at its center by helping citizens across all age, professional, geographic and economic boundaries claim the label of "artist," and by sharing the stories of what that means to them.
  3. Expand Lines of Inquiry and Future Research: Broaden arts research beyond just quantitative data collection, and towards examining the effect of the arts in areas more difficult to measure, such as impact on the individual or on the community.
  4. Integrate the Arts into Legislative and Other Policy Reforms: Leverage available funding streams to incorporate the arts as part of economic development, neighborhood revitalization or other community-based initiatives.

2011 National Arts Policy Roundtable HighlightsWe are pleased to share with you the results of our efforts at the 2011 Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable. It is our hope that through ongoing conversations and commitment to making a difference, the work of artists who strive to improve the fabric of society will continue to be better understood, nurtured, and advanced.

Americans for the Arts gratefully acknowledges the Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts, and our partner, the Sundance Institute, for support of the 2011 National Arts Policy Roundtable. In addition, we acknowledge the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its support of the Animating Democracy Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, which provided important source material in the preparation of the 2011 National Arts Policy Roundtable program, briefing materials, and final report.