Author(s): Jackson, Maria Rosario
Date of Publication: 2009

 Based on 13 years of national research on integrating arts and culture into concepts of healthy communities, Senior Research Associate with the Urban Institute Maria Rosario Jackson observes how sound and worthy community arts programs with social and civic intention are often saddled with unrealistic expectations about the impacts that they might have on a community and the ways in which such impacts might be proved. In this paper, Jackson argues for a shift toward more realistic expectations of social impact and evaluation of arts-based civic engagement both on the part of

Author(s): Jackson, Maria-Rosario, Ph.D.; Herranz, Joaquín, Jr.; Kabwasa-Green, Florence
Date of Publication: Oct 01, 2003

This brief summarizes the research and measurement framework developed by the Arts and Culture Indicators in Community Building Project (ACIP) to help answer some basic questions about the presence and role of the arts, culture, and creativity in the community building processes at the local level.

Author(s): W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook
Date of Publication: Nov 22, 2021

Available online as a pdf (or it may be ordered from the Kellogg website for free), this 116-page handbook from the Kellogg Foundation provides a framework for thinking about evaluation as a relevant and useful program tool: “For those with little or no evaluation experience, and without the time or resources to learn more, this handbook can help project staff to plan and conduct an evaluation with the assistance of an external evaluator.” A blueprint for conducting project-level evaluations, this handbook is an excellent resource and was written primarily for project directors

Author(s): Assaf, Andrea
Date of Publication: February 2004

In “What Happened in New Orleans? Reflections on the National Convergence of Artists, Educators and Organizers,” Animating Democracy staff member Andrea Assaf reflects on her experience at the National Convergence of Artists, Educators, and Activists. Inspired by Grace Lee Boggs and conversations on art and social change at the Animating Democracy National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue, the National Convergence attracted more than 200 people to New Orleans inJanuary 2004. In her article, Assaf reflects on the impetus, unfolding, and impacts of this convening.

Author(s): Holo, Selma
Date of Publication: Nov 17, 2021

Animating Democracy invited museum studies scholar Selma Holo to write an article from ideas and themes she found compelling at the Animating Democracy Learning Exchange held in Seattle in May 2002. Her article responds to the arts-based civic dialogue work of the three museums participating in the Animating Democracy Lab--the Andy Warhol Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington--comparing it to other museums whose efforts have intersected with the sphere of civic ideas and issues.

Author(s): Bacon, Barbara Schaffer; Korza, Pam; Williams, Patricia E.
Date of Publication: 2002

This article explores the role that museums can play in expanding opportunities for democratic participation through civic dialogue and engagement.  Published in Museums and Communities Toolkit, American Association of Museums. 

Author(s): Romney, Patricia
Date of Publication: Nov 15, 2021

Dialogue specialist and clinical/organizational psychologist Patricia Romney offers an accessible review of the ideas of selected historic and contemporary philosophers and dialogue theorists including: Socrates and Plato, Mikhail Bakhtin, Paulo Freire, David Bohm, and David Isaacs, and considers the implications of their ideas for arts-based civic dialogue practice.  Romney shares her observations about a production of West Side Story that was never carried out due to a polarizing debate that ensued in the community.  West Side Story was seen alternately as an extraordinary

Author(s): Korza, Pam; Assaf, Andrea; Bacon, Barbara Schaffer
Date of Publication: Nov 15, 2021

Drawing significantly on the experience of projects within Animating Democracy, as well as a broader sphere of community-based cultural work, this essay considers what value art and humanities can uniquely bring to discourse on important civic issues. It shares some of what the Animating Democracy Initiative learned in its initial phase about the opportunities and challenges of this arena of work, and how Animating Democracy's thinking was evolving regarding the role of the arts in civic dialogue.  First published on the 

Author(s): Treuhaft, Hanna
Date of Publication: August 2008

In November 2007, artistic directors from four artist-led organizations (Cornerstone Theater Company, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Sojourn Theatre, and Urban Bush Women) gathered to share ideas about community-engaged art practices, and connection with and responsibility to audiences and young artists. This report, written by Hannah Treuhaft, a company member from Sojourn Theatre and participant at the gathering, recaps and assembles themes and perspective from the four participating organizations.  Through discussion, four themes and conversations dominated: 1) methodologies and

Author(s): Gilbert, Judith E.; MacDonell, Martha S.; Weis, Mary F.
Date of Publication: 2008

This case study documents Sojourn Theatre Company’s intervention at Lima, OH, Senior High School following a tragic shooting in 2008 that resurfaced racial tensions in the community. Lima City Schools enlisted Allen County Common Threads, a locally based volunteer group promoting arts-based civic dialogue and Sojourn Theatre Company to implement an immediate arts-based project to help students process the tragedy. Sojourn interviewed students, and wrote, performed, and recorded theatrical monologues expressing student perspectives on the incident and the racial tensions exposed

Author(s): Stern, Mark J. and Seifert, Susan
Date of Publication: June 2009

Grounded in a recent strategic plan, the Tucson Pima Arts Council is moving to advance civic engagement in the city and county through its programming, funding, and partnerships. As part of Animating Democracy’s Art & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, and in addition to the qualitative focus reflected in the evaluation inquiry with Maribel Alvarez, TPAC wanted to know what concrete measures are reasonable to use to understand the civic engagement effects of its work as an agency. The objective of the collaborative inquiry with Mark Stern and Susan Seifert of the Social Impact of

Author(s): Jackson, Maria Rosario and Malpede, John
Date of Publication: 2009

Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is a Skid Row-based theater organization, founded and directed by artist John Malpede. LAPD has distinguished itself by its longstanding commitment to making change in L.A.’s Skid Row community, particularly regarding the homeless, through theater-based civic engagement work. Many have observed LAPD’s apparent potent effects on individuals and on social relations in Skid Row, and acknowledge its contributions to influencing structures, systems, and even policy.   As part of Animating Democracy’s Arts & Civic Engagement Impact

Author(s): Dywer, M. Christine
Date of Publication: April 2008

Written for Animating Democracy's Arts and Civic Engagement Impact Initiative Working Group, this 14- page paper presents a conceptual framework (or logic model) for arts-based engagement. It offers a discussion of the components of the framework, and a list of questions to guide research explorations. It defines and gives examples of each element: programmatic initiative in terms of the core arts element and related civic/social purpose; context; implementation choices and actions; intermediate effects (individual, collective, and community capacity building); and social and/or civic

Author(s): Stern, Mark J. and Seifert, Susan C.
Date of Publication: January 2009

Based on a literature review drawing from the social sciences, humanities, and public policy, Stern and Seifert of the Social Impact of the Arts Project at the University of Pennsylvania suggest documentation and evaluation strategies that artists, cultural and community organizations, philanthropists, and public agencies could take to improve the quality of knowledge about the social impact of arts-based civic engagement work.

Author(s): Stropnicky, Gerard
Date of Publication: May 2013

This is the second of two essays by Gerard Stropnicky, director, writer, actor, and co-founder of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) that reflect on NET’s MicroFest: USA. In this essay, Stropnicky looks at the work of socially engaged ensemble theaters featured at MicroFest: USA to examine how ensemble values and practices influence the work and its impact in the context of place-based revitalization and renewal. He looks at the work through three lenses: intention, values, and language of engagement. He discusses how clarity of social intention supports artistic choices and

Author(s): Stewart, Shannon
Date of Publication: January 2011

In towns all across the United States, young people are using music and art to make interesting, creative, and positive things happen in their communities. They are punks, rappers, educators, singer-songwriters, artists, and community organizers who carve out safe creative spaces for people to come together. This paper by Shannon Stewart characterizes youth-based music organizations that are fostering civic engagement through music. Stewart provides a current view of these groups as preface to the 2007 All-Ages Movement Project Project Report. The All-ages Movement Project (AMP), a network


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