Arts and Civic Engagement: Briefing Paper for Working Group of the Arts and Civic Engagement Impact Initiative

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Resource Details
Chris Dwyer
Number of Pages: 
Animating Democracy resource
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Written for Animating Democracy's Arts and Civic Engagement Impact Initiative Working Group, this 14- page paper presents a conceptual framework (or logic model) for arts-based engagement. It offers a discussion of the components of the framework, and a list of questions to guide research explorations. It defines and gives examples of each element: programmatic initiative in terms of the core arts element and related civic/social purpose; context; implementation choices and actions; intermediate effects (individual, collective, and community capacity building); and social and/or civic impacts. In the discussion of the framework, Dwyer gives a number of suggestions tailored to arts and civic engagement work. She describes social and civic capacity as encompassing: the knowledge and expertise of content and process; access to human and material resources; systems for collecting, organizing, using, and disseminating information; leadership; and common expectations. A useful and insightful list of intermediate effects for arts and civic engagement is provided and could readily be adapted to many projects.  They include: awareness of particular issues is developed; knowledge of issues is deepened; understanding of others' perspectives is developed; facilitation and other dialogue skills are developed; attitudes are changed in particular directions; increased numbers and/or different profiles of individuals are engaged; new relationships are built and/or existing relationships strengthened among individuals; connections are made that cross individual boundaries such as race, age, gender, income, or location; interest groups and networks are built; new relationships are built and existing relationships are strengthened among institutions/organizations; connections are made that cross institutional boundaries such as policy domains (education, transportation, arts) or sectors (public, corporate, nonprofit). Examples of types of social and civic impacts are given as well, such as: an issue is resolved; consensus has been produced; long-standing rifts have been healed; a policy has been enacted; an opportunity has been developed; a problem has been foreseen and prevented or averted; new leaders and/or new types of leaders have emerged; and standing mechanisms for problem solving/deliberation are in place. The final section lists eleven questions for the initiative's Working Group to consider in defining its research agenda. As the audience for the piece is a collection of experts in the fields of arts and/or civic engagement, some of the language may be a bit challenging for some in the arts field but most is readily applicable.

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