Americans for the Arts today announced that the Community Arts Training Institute (CAT Institute) of St. Louis has been awarded the Robert E. Gard Award. The award recognizes and celebrates exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life, and was presented this morning at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Denver.
The CAT Institute is a program centered on the belief that art has the power to be an agent for positive social change. Founded in 1997, the five-month training program fosters partnerships between artists of all disciplines, social workers, educators, community and social activists, and policymakers with the goal of creating relevant, impactful arts programs particularly in under-resourced community settings, e.g. neighborhood organizations, social service agencies, development initiatives, and after-school programs. Today, more than 350 artists have completed the program.
To better identify well-defined and measurable outcomes in the field of art and social change, CAT Institute’s lead partner, the Regional Arts Council of St. Louis, commissioned an evaluator to study the program, define the “CAT Way of Working,” and identify how it empowers alumni to make a difference. The results of this study suggest multiple ways that CAT Institute training is manifested in the lives of graduates: among them a greater appreciation and respect for diversity, and the adoption of a “with, not for” approach to community engagement.
The same study revealed that 74 percent of respondents directly attribute their work success to CAT Institute training and cited concrete examples as evidence. The examples included successful projects that increase participant access to the arts, advance 21st century learning skills among youth, and promote life skills among other marginalized groups. Other examples of success are found within organizations where CAT Institute graduates work – from community development corporations to juvenile justice centers to museums and theatres.
“The Community Arts Training Institute is unique in that its impact is measured not by what one singular program can do, but by the collective good that happens when hundreds of people share the values of art and social change and deploy their skills for change,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “The Institute is strengthening the community as a whole, and I congratulate them for this well-deserved recognition.”
The Robert E. Gard Award is named in honor of one of the founding fathers of the local arts movement and a champion of the arts’ role in the creation and maintenance of healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org