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.
Fostering Civic Engagement and Social Impact through the Arts
Arts and culture promote understanding and action on issues facing our communities and the world. Americans for the Arts’ commitment to creative social change is embodied by its Animating Democracy program, which strengthens the role of artists and cultural organizations as leaders and partners in civic engagement and social change.
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.
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.
Topic Page News Tabs
At the intersection of technology, branding, and activism, digital-media company Refinery29’s 29Rooms installation succeeded in intersecting all of these, truly turning it into art. For its third year, the annual event opened its doors during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) to a mass of visitors in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood and brought forth the most powerful artists and collaborators in hopes of raising awareness on a variety of issues.
As founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and an acclaimed public interest lawyer, Bryan Stevenson has dedicated his career to fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination. In addition to his work in the courtroom, Stevenson is helping shepherd powerful works of public art like the Memorial to Peace and Justice, which will feature the names of more than 4,000 victims of lynching.
The Ford Foundation president will speak March 20, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are free, but seating is limited.
Public Art Bootcamp, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s award program, is the subject of the publication Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art, which illustrates how public art administrators can shift the field to be more inclusive and effect change by intentionally serving artists from under-represented and under-invested communities.
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.
At the intersection of 60th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in West Oakland, California, is a huge wall-length mural titled “Silence the Violence,
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Roman Baca is a ballet dancer that joined the Marines. As a veteran, he promotes social change and health through the art of movement.
This video will guide you through the site and introduce you to creative social change resources Animating Democracy’s website.