Aesthetic Perspectives


See below for links to e-books and PDFs


Aesthetic Perspectives:

Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change

A framework to enhance understanding
and evaluation of creative work at the
intersection of arts and civic engagement,
community development, and justice.  

11 artistic attributes that address the potency of creative expression to embody and motivate change.  Aesthetic Perspectives aims to inform and inspire reflection, dialogue, and rich description in use by artists, funders, evaluators, educators, critics, presenters, programmers, curators, and audiences.

The framework:

  • elevates aesthetics in civically and socially engaged art
  • helps describe and assess the work
  • expands criteria for considering aesthetics in Arts for Change
  • addresses historical domination of Euro-American aesthetic standards
  • promotes deeper appreciation of the rigor required for effective creative work
Aesthetic Perspectives was developed by artists and allied funders and evaluators who participated in the Evaluation Learning Lab led by Animating Democracy at Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network. Activation of the framework supported by Hemera Foundation.


Full Framework (55 pages)

Includes an INTRODUCTION that explores rationale and context and the terms aesthetics and Arts for Change.  For each of the 11 AESTHETIC ATTRIBUTES, you’ll find:

  • pointed DESCRIPTION relating the attribute to Arts for Change
  • reflective QUESTIONS to guide consideration of the attribute in Arts for Change work
  • llluminating EXAMPLES of creative projects that exhibit the attribute

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Short Take (7 pages)

Offers a SUMMARY of the 11 attributes and rational and context for the framework.

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Companion Guides (6 to 10 pages)

Written by respected peers, Companion guides for: Artists, Funders, Evaluators, Educators, and Curators offer ideas and insights to help these users APPLY THE FRAMEWORK to address their needs and interests.  

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NEW! Diving into Racial Equity: The MAP Fund’s Exploration (28 pages)
By Vanessa Whang

In 2015, the MAP Fund undertook a deep examination of one of its foundational priorities: racial equity in arts and culture grantmaking. In this case study by Vanessa Whang, follow MAP’s layered inquiry to examine biases in its: application platform, guidelines and requirements, applicant advisory supports and communications, and adjudication processes. Learn how MAP is incorporating the framework, Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change to help mitigate aesthetic bias in proposal review, and what an evaluation revealed. Published by Animating Democracy in collaboration with the MAP Fund.

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NEW! Pittsburgh Artists Working in Community: A Case Study of Aesthetic Perspectives in Action (24 pages)

As Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art (OPA) supports artists working in the public realm through residencies and cross-sector partnerships, this case study explores how OPA has used Aesthetic Perspectives as: an adaptable evaluation tool, a content-rich guide for artist inquiry and exchange, and an organizational aid to guide selection panels to discuss aesthetic qualities and equity.

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Condensed Attributes (5 pages)

A focused OVERVIEW of the 11 aesthetic attributes offers abbreviated descriptions and a sampling of the questions found in the full Aesthetics Framework

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A poster for each of the 11 aesthetic attributes offers a VISUAL TOOL describing the attribute’s relationship to social justice and sample questions for use in teaching/training, funding panel processes, to guide dialogues and discussions of Arts for Change work.

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