Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative

Research Reports, Professional Articles, & White Papers

The Arts & Civic Engagement IMPACT Initiative works to advance understanding among practitioners, funders, and other stakeholders of the social impact of arts-based civic engagement and social change work.  The initiative commissions papers by research and evaluation professionals to deepen understanding of assessing social impact of the arts.


Shifting Expectations: An Urban Planner’s Reflections on Evaluating Community-Based Arts
by Maria Rosario Jackson

Civic Engagement and the Arts: Issues of Conceptualization and Measurement
by Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert

Arts and Civic Engagement: Briefing Paper for the Working Group of the Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative
by M. Christine Dwyer

In the Impact Initiative’s Field Lab, five cultural organizations and projects were matched with evaluators in a collaborative inquiry to explore how to gauge and describe social change outcomes of their work.  Their learning is documented in these case studies:

Evaluation Plan: Arts & Equity Initiative, Terra Moto and the City of Portland, ME
by M. Christine Dwyer with Marty Pottenger

Evaluation Plan: Starksboro (VT) Art & Soul Project, The Orton Family Foundation
by M. Christine Dwyer

Making the Case for Skid Row Culture: Findings from a Collaborative Inquiry by the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) and the Urban Institute
by Maria Rosario Jackson and John Malpede

Moments of Transformation: Rha Goddess’s LOW and Understanding Social Change
by Suzanne Callahan and contributing writers Jane Jerardi and Caitlin Servilio, with Artist Reflections by Rha Goddess

Two-Way Mirror: Ethnography as a Way to Assess Civic Impact of Arts-based Engagement in Tucson, Arizona
by Maribel Alvarez, Southwest Center, University of Arizona

Documenting Civic Engagement: A Plan for the Tucson Pima Arts Council
by Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts Project, University of Pennsylvania