Arts and Culture Indicators Project

Resource Details
Maria Rosario Jackson, Florence Kabwasa-Green

The site offers an overview of Urban Institute's Arts and Culture Indicators Project, defines cultural vitality, briefly addresses cultural vitality indicators, offers case study examples, and gives abstracts and links to high-quality relevant research studies. The site is a beautiful resource for arts and civic engagement practitioners and policymakers. Graphically strong with top notch research, it is a model for the field. Civic leaders and heads of large organizations could review this site to either see where their city stands, or get ideas of how to measure the presence and vitality of arts and culture in their communities. Note, however, that the website section on indicators is brief (and without examples).  Site users may have to review lengthy research papers to garner information about indicators. The fundamental goal of the Urban Institute's Arts and Culture Indicators Project (ACIP) is to help policymakers make better decisions for neighborhoods and cities. To this end, ACIP provides researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with information about the presence and role of arts and culture in communities—how arts and culture affect neighborhood conditions and community dynamics. Specifically, ACIP develops quantifiable measures of arts and culture and integrates them into quality of life measurement systems that can compare conditions across communities and in the same community over time. Launched in the late 1990s with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, ACIP's basic premises are (a) that a healthy place to live includes opportunities for and the presence of arts, culture, and creative expression, (b) that arts, culture, and creative expression are important determinants of how communities fare, and by extension (c) that full understanding of U.S. communities is inherently impossible without including these important perspectives. ACIP's approach has always been deliberately applied. The concepts developed, the measures they find promising, and the data-related practices they advocate have been vetted, tested, and, in some cases, initially developed in conjunction with practitioners, researchers, and policy players in urban planning, community development, and arts-related fields. In addition, ACIP collaborates with community indicator initiatives around the country in their continuing efforts to integrate arts and culture into indicator systems. At the same time, ACIP's years of research on arts and culture in a range of communities across the United States have enabled them to expand the conventional paradigm of what counts as arts and culture in a way that makes it more consistent with, and inclusive of, the demographic realities of the nation—including low- and moderate-income communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities. [Adapted from the Urban Institute website.]

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