Social Impact of the Arts Project

Social Impact of the Arts Project

The Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) is a research group at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice, in Philadelphia, PA (USA). We began in 1994 to ask questions and develop methods to explore the impact of the arts and culture on urban communities. Our research focuses on the relationship of the arts to community change with a particular interest in strategies for neighborhood revitalization, social inclusion, and community wellbeing.

Cultural engagement represents an important dimension of community wellbeing by building social connections within groups and across social divides. The arts provide a resource that people can use to make sense of the world as it is, to connect with collective memory, and to imagine the future. Neighborhoods with a vital cultural life also enjoy “spillover effects”—including stronger community and civic engagement; better health, schooling, and personal security; and economic revitalization. SIAP’s mission is to understand and document these connections—what we call community cultural ecology—and the role that public policy and philanthropy can play in encouraging them. To learn more about SIAP’s approach, methods, and research team, go to: About SIAP.

Since start-up in the mid-1990s, SIAP has been committed to open data and open access as both a research methodology and a dissemination strategy. Thanks to ScholarlyCommons, the open access institutional repository at Penn Libraries, SIAP archives—including methods and work-in-progress—are accessible to research, policy, and practice communities across the globe and free to all. We invite visitors to browse the Social Impact of the Arts Project Collections, listed below in reverse chronological order. The link to each SIAP Collection will access reports, working papers, and other materials produced by that project. All documents are downloadable in PDF format for public use with full citation requested. For a listing of additional SIAP publications under copyright, go to: About SIAP.

What's New?

Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City (A SIAP Collection, 2017)

The Social Wellbeing of New York City’s Neighborhoods: The Contribution of Culture and the Arts, Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert (SIAP Report, March 2017). This research report presents the conceptual framework, data and methodology, findings and implications of a three-year study of the relationship of cultural ecology to social wellbeing across New York City neighborhoods. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Reinvestment Fund, a community development financial institution, with support by the Surdna Foundation, the NYC Cultural Agenda Fund in the New York Community Trust, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Read the report

Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City, SIAP and Reinvestment Fund (Research Brief, February 2017). This research brief provides a summary of the data, methods, and findings documented in the March 2017 report.

Read the brief

Culture’s Contribution to Social Wellbeing & Neighborhood Vitality, SIAP and Reinvestment Fund (Policy Brief, February 2016). This policy brief is a summary of project rationale—why and how to measure social wellbeing—and its potential to guide policy toward more equitable and livable communities.

Read the brief

Social Networks and Inequality in New York City’s Cultural Sector, Mark J. Stern (A SIAP Working Paper, October 2017). This paper presents an analysis of the geography of program sites served by City grant recipients based on a dataset maintained by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and its interaction with the inequality of cultural opportunities within the city.

Read the working paper

Understanding neighborhood change: An approach to assessing displacement risk among NYC residents, Ira Goldstein, Emily Dowdall, and Colin Weidig, (Reinvestment Fund, October 2017). Reinvestment Fund has used its displacement risk ratio (DRR) in several cities to gauge the gap between neighborhood residents’ incomes and housing costs. This paper applies the same approach to New York City but also considers its applicability to renter-occupied housing.

Read the working paper

Using PUMS to Calculate Geographic Mobility in New York City, Mark J. Stern (A SIAP Working Paper, October 2017). In this paper SIAP uses census data drawn from the annual American Community Survey to identify patterns of geographic mobility common in New York City neighborhoods between 2007 and 2015.

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Divergent Paths—Rapid Neighborhood Change and the Cultural Ecosystem, Susan C. Seifert and Mark J. Stern (A SIAP Working Paper, December 2017). This paper considers the impact of rapid neighborhood change on the cultural ecology of Fort Greene and surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods based on qualitative study undertaken during 2016.

Read the working paper


Browse the Social Impact of the Arts Project Collections:

Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City—2014-2017

Culture and Social Wellbeing in Philadelphia—2012-2014

Measuring the Outcomes of Creative Placemaking—2014

Age and Arts Participation: A Case against Demographic Destiny—2011

"Natural" Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study—2010-2013

Arts-Based Social Inclusion and Immigrant Communities—2010-2011

Civic Engagement and the Arts—2008-2009

Culture and Community Revitalization: A SIAP/Reinvestment Fund Collaboration—2007-2009

Philadelphia and Camden: Community Partners in Arts Access Evaluation—2004-2009

Knight Creative Communities Initiative Evaluation—2007-2008

Dynamics of Culture—2003-2005

Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Community Impact Assessment—2003

Culture Builds Community Evaluation—1997-2002

Arts Resources for Children and Youth in Philadelphia—1995-1997

SIAP Early Work—1994