“Engagement in art contributes to quality of life. Quality of life contributes to society’s capacity to invent, create, and express itself. This capacity contributes back to art, both directly and indirectly. When the system works, arts engagement expands and deepens, quality of life is enhanced, and the creative capacity of a society increases.” —NEA
This September, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced a five-year plan for researching the benefits of art on individuals and communities — from arts participation to arts engagement. The agency will use a system map (above) to “better understand and measure this complex, dynamic system.” We know that creativity is key to stimulating innovation and the economy. We also know that creative capital is central to placemaking, and that art plays an important role in culture and the wellbeing of society as a whole. With this knowledge, the NEA hopes to expand on existing research about the value of art and its impact. They’re looking for hard quantitative data on how art affects health, cognitive capacity, livability, and economic prosperity. It’s an ambitious task, one that will take time. But arts workers everywhere will have a stake in the outcome. Learn more by downloading How Art Works: The National Endowment for the Arts’ Five-Year Research Agenda, with a System Map and Measurement Model.