How the arts are integral to our cities: planning, civic dialogue, and liveability


A study in the United Kingdom found that 20% of people who engaged in participatory arts felt differently about their rights after participating.

Arts-based community design processes make people ownership over what happens.When people have a sense of ownership of the places they frequent, their communities become better places to live, work, and visit.

In towns of all sizes, city councils and local government agencies often transcended traditional turfs and training to specifically to foster arts-driven downtown revitalization.

According to the American Planning Association, integrating arts and culture into planning processes places community identity at the fore, engages participants more fully, and breaks down barriers to communication across demographic and socioeconomic lines.

Arts participation has a positive effect on social cohesion by bringing generations together, encouraging partnerships and intercultural understanding, reducing fear of crime, and fostering organizational skills. People report feeling more in control of their lives and more activated as citizens.

Matarasso, F. (1997). Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts [Electronic version]. Comedia. Retrieved 23 February 2018 from

Project for Public Places. (2000). How to Turn a Place Around. New York: Project for Public Spaces.

Markusen, A. and A Gadwa. "Arts and Culture in Urban or Regional Planning: A Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Planning Education and Research 29(3) 379–391. 383. Retrieved 4 May 2018 from

American Planning Association. "The Role of the Arts and Culture in Planning Practice." (2011) Retrieved 18 May 2018 from…

Jeannotte, S. "Singing Alone? The Contribution of Cultural Capital to Social Cohesion and Sustainable Communities." The International Journal of Cultural Policy, 9(1) 35-49. Retrieved 15 May 2018 from…


The Unity Project

Portland, Oregon

The Unity Project is a large-scale public arts projects in which 24 artists were paired with foster children in Portland Oregon. The pairs worked together to create large art panels to be displayed on the building of a program called Color Outside the

Art About Agriculture

Corvallis, Oregon

Art About Agriculture, at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, encourages artists to investigate agriculture and natural resources themes for creating artworks.

City Council Meeting

Portland, Oregon

City Council Meeting is performed participatory democracy: a performance of empathy, democracy, and power created fresh in each city where it is presented, with local artists, activists, government officials, and other citizens.


National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.

Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF)

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) is a Native-led, nonprofit, philanthropic organization dedicated exclusively to the perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures nationwide.

Our Town/How to Do Creative Placemaking

The program supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities through strategies that incorporate arts, culture, and design. The program also offers creative placemaking resources.

The Arts & Social Impact Explorer was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

This fact sheet was developed as part
of the Arts + Social Impact Explorer