The Arts and Civic Engagement: Strengthening the 21st Century Community cover
The Arts and Civic Engagement: Strengthening the 21st Century Community

Author: Americans for the Arts

Publication Year: 2008

Media Type: Report


A Report on the Proceedings of the Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable held September 25-27, 2008 at Sundance Preserve looks at trends and best practices in arts-based civic engagement and makes recommendations to the field.


Americans for the Arts and the Sundance Preserve established the National Arts Policy Roundtable in 2006 on the premise that the arts are critical to our society—and that every American should have an opportunity to participate in all forms of the arts.  Since its inception, more than 60 distinguished CEO level decision‐makers from business, government, philanthropy, education and the arts, have gathered annually at Sundance to discuss issues critical to advancing American culture—and to recommend the public sector policies, private sector practices, and research needed to move from thought to action.

On September 25‐27, 2008, 29 leaders gathered at the third annual National Arts Policy Roundtable to consider the topic The Arts and Civic Engagement: Strengthening the 21st Century Community.  We believe that civic engagement—that is, the active commitment by individuals to participate and contribute to the improvement of one’s neighborhood, community, nation and world—is vital to healthy communities, healthy business environments, and a healthy democracy. We believe that the arts can and do play a unique role in fostering citizen engagement—by bringing forth new ways to view an increasingly complex world, and providing the creative space in which difficult issues can be addressed and solutions can take form.  

Our goal in examining this topic was to better articulate how the arts can help catalyze a more vital and participatory civic culture in our communities, workplaces and nation. This report represents the results of this dialogue. In preparation for the Roundtable, focus groups of arts and civic engagement program officers from major foundations were convened to consider this issue; we also relied on the case studies, research and data from over ten years of work conducted in arts and civic engagement through the Animating Democracy program of Americans for the Arts. Our dialogue was strengthened by the on site case study presented by the community members of Crossroads Charlotte—a major civic engagement initiative designed to address Charlotte, NC’s changing community through storytelling, dialogue and the arts. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to the Kellogg Foundation CONNECT Fund, and The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts for support of the 2008 National Arts Policy Roundtable. [Forward]

Arts & Intersections: Civic Dialogue, Political Activation

Categories: Civic Dialogue and Social Change


Series Title: Natianal Arts Policy Roundtable Report

Edition: 2008



Pages: 27

Resources: Document


Name: Americans for the Arts

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