Civic Engagement and the Arts—2008-2009

Document Type





This report focuses on one aspect of the social impact of the arts--their influence on civic engagement. The inquiry was undertaken during 2008 in collaboration with Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts. The purpose was to assess the state of knowledge about the relationship of the arts to civic engagement and to suggest ways that artists, cultural and community organizations, philanthropists, and public agencies could improve the quality of that knowledge.

The approach was a review of literature drawn from the social sciences, the humanities, and public policy in an attempt to bridge theory with practice and research with evaluation. The authors structure the report as a conventional research design--that is, they define terms, conceptualize relationships among variables, identify methodological challenges, and assess data gathering strategies. Lastly, they propose a three-tier approach--with organizational or program-scale strategies, regional-scale strategies, and initiative-scale strategies--to improve the field's ability to document and understand the impact of the arts and culture on civil society.


This report is a product of the Arts and Civic Engagement Impact Initiative of Animating Democracy, a program of American for the Arts, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Animating Democracy co-directors Pam Korza and Barbara Schaffer Bacon and the Initiative Working Group members are acknowledged in Appendix I.

An abstract and downloadable copy of the report is also posted on the Animating Democracy website:



Date Posted: 08 May 2017