Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City (2014-16)

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This report presents the current findings of a study of culture and social wellbeing in New York City conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) in collaboration with Reinvestment Fund. The project began in the fall of 2014 when SIAP accepted an invitation from Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City, to conduct a study of the social value of the arts. The study builds on SIAP’s over twenty years of research and writing on the non-­‐ economic impact of the arts on urban communities. During that time, SIAP has formulated a perspective on culture’s role in urban neighborhoods based on the idea of neighborhood cultural ecology or “natural” cultural districts. We’ve completed a variety of studies—typically combining quantitative data analysis and qualitative evidence from interviews and observation—in a number of cities, including Philadelphia, Seattle, and Baltimore.


This project was generously supported by the Surdna Foundation, the New York City Cultural Agenda Fund in the New York Community Trust, and the University of Pennsylvania. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Reinvestment Fund, a community development financial institution. The views expressed are solely those of the authors.



Date Posted: 09 March 2017