Social Impact Pilot Project: Arts, Health, and Well-being (Current)

In May 2018, Americans for the Arts engaged Metris Arts Consulting (Metris) and Topos Partnership (Topos) to explore what promotes appreciation of the role of the arts in personal and community health and wellness, among members of the general public. The pilot project is a strategic partnership, drawing on Metris’ arts and well-being research experience and Topos’ expertise in communications research on a wide range of issues, including the arts. The pilot will inform possible future message-testing and advocacy efforts by Americans for the Arts to achieve the vision of the arts being recognized as integral to the lives of all people and essential to healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities across the nation. The pilot includes three components: (1) a summary of research and example projects about the impact of the arts on health and well-being, (2) field research and testing of messages to increase the likelihood of the public supporting funding and policy goals related to arts-health/wellness integrations, and (3) an evaluation of the pilot project to surface implications for expanding the research on a larger scale.

“WE-Making:” Contributions of place-based arts and cultural strategies to social cohesion (Current)

In the summer of 2018, ArtPlace America, along with several other funders (Bush Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) engaged Metris in an exploration of art, place, and social cohesion. Through a literature review and interviews with a diverse group of practitioners, policymakers, and other key stakeholders, we answered the questions: What is social cohesion? How does it relate to place-based arts and cultural strategies? Who works at this intersection and how? Principles of equitable evaluation informed research questions and project methods. The forthcoming “WE-Making:” Contributions of place-based arts and cultural strategies to social cohesion provides resources that a variety of stakeholders, including practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and funders, may find useful to strengthen and accelerate promising practices.

Creative Placemaking on Vacant Properties: Lessons Learned from Four Cities (2018)

In 2017, Center for Community Progress engaged Metris to support an exploration of using creative placemaking on vacant properties to foster equitable revitalization. Throughout the project, interdisciplinary cohorts from four cities participated in learning exchanges to gain knowledge and tools. Center for Community Progress gained new insights into the relationship between local priorities and creative placemaking for vacant property revitalization. Metris collaborated on the selection of cities and interdisciplinary delegation formation and helped craft two learning exchanges and supported follow-up site visits for two cities. Through the learning exchanges and site visits, Center for Community Progress sought to identify key factors that impede creative placemaking on vacant properties. Finally, Metris drafted a report to synthesized findings from the peer exchanges, site visits, and peer-learning event to be shared with Center for Community Progress’ national audience.

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Deep Roots Wide World (2017)

Part of a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), Deep Roots Wide World looks at a LISC project in Richmond, California. The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond California has a mission to engage “youth and young adults in imagining and creating new worlds for themselves and new visions for their communities through the inspiration and discipline of rigorous training in world performance traditions.” In the 2016–17 school year, the Center involved 5,500 participants in its nationally-recognized programs, including year-round courses, private instruction, music, dance and theater instruction at 20 local K–8 public schools, and an intensive tuition-free Young Artist Diploma Program. Youth performances drew nearly 30,000 audience members to a variety of community venues. On walls throughout the Center, placards reading “Deep Roots Wide World” remind students of their charge: To forge deep roots in their own communities. Respect the many cultures that make up Richmond and the broader world. The Center’s arts programming aims not to launch students into artistic careers, although some have taken that path, but to build individual character and strengthen communities through instruction imbued with values of mutual respect, multiculturalism, and social justice. In 2012, the Center opened its newly renovated home in the Winters Building, an historical structure situated on a downtown commercial corridor that has seen better days. The upgrade supported a dramatic expansion of the Center’s youth work, which reaches deep into the low-income neighborhoods of Richmond, a city with a population of about 110,000. In addition, the revitalized building, together with nearby public improvements, may lay the groundwork for commercial revitalization along the corridor. In April of 2017, researchers visited the East Bay Center and conducted interviews with staff, parents, and community partners to explore the social and economic impacts the Winters Building renovation and the Center itself have produced.

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The Many Sides of Fountain Square (2017)

Part of a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), The Many Sides of Fountain Square looks at a LISC project in Indianapolis, Indiana. Not too long ago, you probably would have wanted to stay clear of Fountain Square, with its drug houses and vacant buildings. Things have changed, however, and not just the new range of entertainment and dining choices—Fountain Square has added new businesses, housing stock, and people, too. Some residents and visitors welcome these changes and others feel threatened. What is clear, though, is that revitalization efforts that focused on restoring entertainment venues, creating new facilities, and establishing housing for artists have been successful in altering the trajectory of Fountain Square. The catalyst for this change was the restorations of three major buildings in the community, supported by the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC): the Fountain Square Theatre Building, the Murphy, and the Wheeler. Investment in these buildings allowed Fountain Square to develop an arts-and-entertainment destination identity and experience a dramatic turnaround from market failure to stability to what now has even become speculation.

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Vacancy to Vitality in Pittsburgh’s East End (2017)

Part of a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), Vacancy to Vitality in Pittsburgh’s East End looks at a LISC project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the late 1990s, Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh suffered the kind of dereliction that afflicts many Rust Belt commercial corridors: vacant and boarded up storefronts, dangerous levels of crime. In 2017, Penn Avenue offers a different kind of experience. Little Angels Learning Academy provides daycare, and Aahmani Afrikan Braids offers hair care. Most Wanted Fine Arts is “a community service organization disguised as an art gallery.” People’s Indian Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and Assemble hosts classes, summer camps, birthday parties, and more for learners of all ages interested in arts and technology. These and other businesses along the 12-block strip signal the emergence of a vital and economically diverse commercial corridor. Under the direction of a full-time artist-organizer, the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative (PAAI) attracted artists and arts organizations to the district by actively marketing mixed-use spaces and creating custom packages of property purchase and rehabilitation subsidies to give an ownership stake. Black artists have begun to move onto the corridor, and many of the arts and cultural organizations have worked hard to reach out to area youth to learn artistic skills and explore their creativity. Not every aspect of Penn Avenue’s turnaround worked as planned, however, most notably the hopes that a revitalized Avenue would close the seam between two racially and economically distinct neighborhoods.

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We Are, All of Us Together, Beginning a Good Life (2017)

Part of a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), We Are, All of Us Together, Beginning a Good Life looks at a LISC project in Duluth, Minnesota. Named after an Ojibwe phrase that translates as “we are, all of us together, beginning a good life” Gimaajii-Mino-Bimaadizimin is a community center and 29 units of permanent supporting housing for Native American women and children in downtown Duluth, Minnesota. We relied on many perspectives to weave the story of Gimaajii’s impacts. We brought together eight Native American artists for a focus group; interviewed 17 people with various relationships with Gimaajii, including staff and board members, artists, and a resident, as well as staff from other housing and human services government agencies, local nonprofits that focus on homelessness and Native American health, and funders. We also toured the facilities. Although AICHO only opened Gimaajii’s doors in 2012, we heard and saw how Native American and non-Native American communities in Duluth and beyond have already benefitted in many substantial and life-changing ways.

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Arts, Culture, and Community Outcomes (2017)

Part of a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), Arts, Culture, and Community Outcomes: What Four LISC Projects Accomplished uses programs in Duluth, Minnesota, Richmond, California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Indianapolis, Indiana to analyze what arts and culture add to community development efforts, particularly insights to how these programs had an impact on economic and social change. Each of these programs are explored in more depth as case studies, part of a series on the intersection of community development with arts and culture, published by LISC and Metris Arts Consulting. The series also includes papers on artists as leaders in community development (Not Just Murals) and the economic benefits of arts-and-culture led community development (More Than Storefronts).

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Not Just Murals (2017)

Part of a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), Not Just Murals: Insights into Artists’ Leadership in Community Development dives into the effect artists can have as leaders in their community. The report examines the nurturing of artists to be leaders, the challenges and opportunities they face, and profiles the work of many artists across the country. Not Just Murals draws upon a literature review, interviews with 15 artists leading in different facets of community development, and conversations with experts who have unique insights into regional and national context and trends. The interviews and examples draw heavily from two locales in the LISC network that are exceptionally fertile ground for artists taking up the mantle of leadership in community development, Minnesota’s Twin Cities and Philadelphia, as well as several projects and artists in the South that have received support from Alternate ROOTS, a regional arts service organization that provides artist leaders with training and resources at the intersection of arts and social justice.

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More than Storefronts (2017)

The first in a series of reports and case studies commissioned by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), More than Storefronts: Insights into Creative Placemaking and Community Economic Development posits that creative placemaking offers community economic developers a demonstrably effective way to encourage rural and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. This paper draws on six case studies of programs that have used arts and culture to help spur economic revitalization of low-income areas, from Cajun and Louisiana Creole culture in rural Louisiana to creative funding for a dance and performance nonprofit in San Francisco to affordable live-work space in Cleveland. It examines how local efforts to explicitly invest in artists, arts-related businesses, and arts-and-cultural organizations can help advance community economic development and what it takes to connect arts and culture as an economic strategy with simultaneous efforts to strengthen the social fabric in the community and advance class, racial, or cultural equity, as well.

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Creative Placemaking (2010)

Creative Placemaking explores the livability and economic development outcomes of creative placemaking, whereby cross-sector partners strategically shape the physical and social character of locales around arts and cultural activities. The research summarizes two decades of creative American placemaking, drawing on original economic research and case studies of path breaking initiatives in large and small cities, metropolitan to rural. The report is a resource for mayors, arts organizations, the philanthropic sector, and others interested in understanding strategies for leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A white paper for The Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation. Creative Placemaking has also been translated into Korean (Arts Council Korea, 2014).

Read Online | Download pdfs: Executive Summary | Full Report | Korean Translation