Funder Companion - Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change

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Resource Details
Publication Date: 
May 2017
M. Christine Dwyer
Pam Korza and Barbara Schaffer Bacon
Number of Pages: 
Animating Democracy resource

In the Funder Companion to Animating Democracy’s framework, Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change, author Chris Dwyer of RMC Research offers ideas and insights to help funders apply the framework to address their needs and interests. Aesthetic Perspectives aims to enhance understanding and evaluation of creative work at the intersection of arts and community/civic engagement, community development, and justice. It offers 11 artistic attributes that elevate aesthetics in civically and socially engaged art, expand the criteria for considering aesthetics, and promote appreciation of the rigor required for effective work.

Funders will find value in the framework to support different points in the grantmaking cycle when aesthetic dimensions are relevant: designing and refining programs; communicating the goals and values of a funding program or initiative; framing grant criteria for aesthetic characteristics; encouraging prospective applicants to reflect on aesthetic features of their work; preparing panelists to engage in a nuanced, informed, and critical assessment and discussion of aesthetic qualities; moderating panels using framework questions to probe and open up conversations toward fair and equitable review; developing evaluation and reporting guidelines and assisting grantees to assess how their projects met aesthetic intents.

Aesthetic Perspectives was developed by artists and allied funders and evaluators who participated in the 2014-15 Evaluation Learning Lab (ELL) led by Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network.  Framework dissemination and activation is supported by Hemera Foundation.

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