July 2020

1. Steven Hadley and Clive Gray. Cultural Trends 26:2. “Hyperinstrumentalism and Cultural Policy: Means to an End or an End to Meaning?” 2017. United Kingdom.

This paper investigates the implications for cultural policy of the logic of the instrumental view of culture taken to its conclusion.

2. Eleanora Belfiore. Cultural Trends 26:3. “Cultural Policy Research in the Real World: Curating ‘Impact,’ Facilitating ‘Enlightenment.” 2016. United KIngdom.

This article argues that policy relevance and influence represent legitimate goals of critical research, which does not necessarily mean accepting the pressures and restrictions of arts advocacy and lobbying, or the relinquishing research excellence.

3. Arlene Goldbard. U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. “Standing for Cultural Democracy: The USDAC’s Policy and Action Platform Summary.” 2016. United States.

In this platform, the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture describes ten ways to advance toward cultural democracy, a social order which embodies and affirms the right to culture in every aspect of our public and private policies.

4. District of Columbia Office of Planning. “DC Cultural Plan: Executive Summary.” 2019. United States.

The Cultural Plan establishes a framework to inclusively grow the District’s cultural community informed by the Office of Planning’s experience in community development, land use, systems planning, public facilities and infrastructure

5. Hilda L. Solis and Sheila Kuehl. Los Angeles County Arts Commission. “Adoption of the Countywide Cultural Policy.” 2020. United States.

This is a motion from the LA County Arts Commission for adoption of a county-wide cultural policy.

6. Jennifer Craik. ANU Press. “How Can Cultural Sub-Sectors Respond?: Three Indicative Case Studies.” 2007. Australia.

This chapter examines some sub-sectors that have challenged prevailing policy approaches to the management of culture.

7. Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and the Arts. “Indigenous Arts and Culture Action Plan 2012-2014.” 2014. Australia.

A growing number of Indigenous artists are sharing their significant stories through artistic mediums. The Department of Culture and the Arts supports this sector as part of its vision for a community enriched by unique and transforming arts and culture.

Diversity/Equity/Inclusion and COVID-19: Options for Cultural Research and Public Funding

This virtual study group (VSG) focused on how COVID-19 has disrupted arts and culture research and policy.

Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2020

CRN hosted two VSGs over two days. Comparative Policy of the Response to COVID-19 occurred on June 17th.


Cultural researchers, arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists around the globe are grappling with the COVID-19 crisis, how it is affecting the arts field now, and how it will change the future of the field. As an international forum for cultural research practices, CRN is convening the collective brain power of the network to discuss topics relevant to the crisis. Objectives for this conversation are to allow for shared learning, to understand challenges, to share relevant research, and to provide ideas for future research.

This session explored how cultural research and data sources can help public arts agencies make the case for equitable, sustained cultural funding in the post-COVID-19 economy.  What do we know now, where are gaps in knowledge, what do we need to track during/post COVID, to what extent are arts inequities unique and/or reflect larger systems?  How is DEI prioritized in COVID-related arts policy responses, and to what ends?

The session was moderated by David Pankratz (Creative Sector Research). Holly Sidford (Helicon Collaborative), Pam Breaux (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) will join David and attendees in bringing their perspectives and questions to the conversation as discussants.


Please view notes from the discussion here.


Panel Bios

Pam Beaux joined the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) in 2015. As president and CEO, she works with the association’s board of directors and staff to advance NASAA’s policy and programmatic mission to strengthen America’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Pam has held leadership positions at the local, state and national levels. While in Louisiana state government, she was secretary of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT), assistant secretary of CRT (overseeing its cultural development portfolio), and executive director of its state arts agency (the Louisiana Division of the Arts). During her time at CRT, Pam developed and led Louisiana’s cultural economy initiative and spearheaded the successful UNESCO inscription of Poverty Point State Historic Site (an ancient Indian site) as a World Heritage site. 

David Pankratz retired recently as Research & Policy Director for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council after a 35-year career in research and evaluation in arts policy, advocacy, and management.  Topics of recent research are racial equity and arts funding, impacts of the arts, and individual artists, while his co-edited books include The Arts in a New Millennium.  David also held senior positions for EmcArts, The Independent Commission on the NEA, and the J. Paul Getty Trust.  He has taught for Carnegie Mellon University and earned his Ph.D. in Arts Policy and Administration from The Ohio State University.       

Holly Sidford is Co-Director of Helicon Collaborative, a national consulting firm that works with artists, cultural organizations, foundations and other creative enterprises to make communities better places for all people – more vital, adaptive and just.  Helicon focuses on three themes central to healthy communities:  equity, sustainability and beauty. Holly has 30 years’ experience leading cultural and philanthropic organizations and is nationally recognized for her work in expanding access to arts and culture, enhancing support for artists, and building organizations’ strategic capacity. Before starting Helicon, Holly was the founding President of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a ten-year national initiative to improve support systems for artists. She has held leadership positions at Ford Foundation, The Howard Gilman Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts and Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities.  

May 2020

1. Yasmin Anwar. UC Berkley. “COVID-19: Mental health and well-being for ourselves and our children.” 2020. United States.

In this webcast of Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19, UC Berkeley psychologists Dacher Keltner, Sonia Bishop and Frank Worrell offered advice on how to tackle COVID-19 stress, based on their specific areas of research, mental health data and proven therapeutic interventions.

2. Cath Neal. Cultural Trends, Vol 24. “Know Your Place? Evaluating the Therapeutic Benefits of Engagement with Historic Landscapes.” 2015. United Kingdom.

This paper emphasises the restorative power of engagement with natural/cultural environments by exploring a body of work that identifies the positive impact of the historic environment on the health and well-being of community archaeology participants.

3. Daisy Fancourt and Saoirse Finn. World Health Organization. “What is the Evidence on the Role of the Arts in Improving Health and Well-Being? A scoping review.” 2019. Europe.

This report aims to increase awareness of the effects of the arts on health on wellbeing by mapping the current available evidence in the field of arts and health.

4. Alan Tomlinson, et al. What Works Centre for Wellbeing. “Visual Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing: Evidence Review.” 2018. United Kingdom.

This review looks at the subjective, or self-reported, wellbeing outcomes of visual arts projects aimed at adults who are experiencing, or have experienced, diagnosed mental health conditions.

5. Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel. American Journal of Public Health, Vol 100 No 2. “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature.” 2010. United States.

This review explores the relationship between engagement with the creative arts and health outcomes, specifically the health effects of music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing.

Contagious Cities: Facing and Understanding the Pandemic

Are we ready to face the global challenge of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak? Do we know how microbes, migration and metropolises cohabitate or relate to each other? Can we tap into the artistic and cultural creativity to better understand the global infectious diseases or even investigate how they travel across urban and human borders?

The VSG discussed these questions in a live conversation with artists, curators, researchers and cultural producers of the Contagious Cities. This international cultural project was developed by Wellcome Trust in 2018 to mark the centenary of the 1918 flu pandemic that infected a third of the world’s population and killed 50 million people. The VSG will share important insights from the Contagious Cities project, that brought together international curators, artists and scientists through residences across New York, Hong Kong and Geneva to explore how epidemics spread in urban environments.

What do we hope to achieve?

The VSG aims to inform and educate a wider community of cultural researchers, artists, academics and creative workers on the key questions of pandemic diseases to share support and solidarity in the midst of the global spread of the Covid-19. It intends to expose and promote a creative and artistic intake on the crucial issues of the pandemic physical, social and cultural impacts upon urban communities. 

The Panelists

  • Moderator: Dr Natalia Grincheva
  • Ken Arnold – Creative Director at Wellcome (London, UK)
  • Sarah Henry – Chief Curator and Deputy Director at the Museum of the City of New York (New York, USA)
  • Ying Kwok  – Curator of Contagious Cities: Far Away, Too Close at Tai Kwun Contemporary (Hong Kong, China)
  • Matt Adams – Co-founder of Blast Theory (London, UK)
  • Dr James Doeser – Freelance cultural researcher (London, UK)
  • Ken Arnold – Creative Director at Wellcome (London, UK)

Suggested Pre-Reading:

1918 influenza: the mother of all pandemics

These are the best run cities in the world

WHO Healthy Cities


Contagious Cities (radio series) 

A strange new world? Not really

Mariam Ghani on her film Dis-ease

Blast Theory’s blog on pandemics and public health

Sarah in Intelligencer

The Lancet: COVID-19 and the anti-lessons of history 

New Statesman – The contagious power of fear: why some believe that panic is a virus

March 2020

1. Douglas S Noonan. Cultural Trends, Vol 22, No 3-4. “How US Cultural Districts Reshape Neighbourhoods.” 2013. United Kingdom.

This article describes the phenomenon of cultural districts in the US, reviews some claims made about their impacts, and provides evidence of districts’ effects.

2. Geoffrey Crossick. Global Cultural Districts Network. “The Social Impact of Cultural Districts.” 2019. United Kingdom.

This report analyses the different ways social impact is defined; draws out current good practice, highlighting gaps and challenges; and suggests a framework and principles for future action.

3. Jessica Cusick and Maria Rosario Jackson. California Arts Council. “Cultural Districts Development Program.” 2016. United States.

This report was prepared by the California Arts Council to encourage the development of a broad array of authentic and sustainable cultural districts that reflect the breadth and diversity of California’s cultural assets.

4. Chung Hagen Consulting. Mission Local. “Exploring an Expansion of the Latino Cultural District.” 2019. United States.

This study from Chung Hagen Consulting looks at how to stabilize and expand the Latino Cultural District in San Francisco by synthesizing findings from interviews, focus groups, and community meetings.

5. Egle Rindzeviciute. International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol 25, No 4. Book Review of “Scenescapes: How Qualities of Place Shape Social Life.” 2019. United States.

Egle Rindzeviciute reviews “Scenescapes,” a book by Daniel Aaron Silver and Terry Nichols Clark that looks at how localities shape social, cultural, and economic lives.

February 2020

1. Andries van den Broek. Cultural Trends Vol 22, No 1. “Arts Participation and the Three Faces of Time.” United Kingdom. 2013.

This article looks at how arts participation in the US has been influenced by the imprint of time (early life, socialization, and historical circumstances) on preferences and behavioral patterns.

2. Alan Brown, Jennifer Novak-Leonard, and Shelly Gilbride. The James Irvine Foundation. “Getting in on the Act: How arts groups are creating opportunities for active participation.” 2011. United States.

This report and case studies of illustrative projects help provide a better understanding of how people are engaging in the arts, and of how arts organizations are enabling this involvement. Researchers at WolfBrown investigated active arts participation across the arts sector in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, learning from more than 100 organizations currently engaging in participatory arts.

3. François Matarasso. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. “A Restless Art: How participation won, and why it matters.” 2019. United Kingdom.

Community-arts researcher and advocate Francois Matarasso presents a book on participatory art and community art written from the perspective of engagement.

4. Harder and Company Community Research. The James Irvine Foundation. “Innovation and Impact: When Arts Organizations Take Risks.” 2019. United States.

This concluding evaluation report on the Exploring Engagement Fund offers insights, best practices, and considerations for arts organizations and funders who prioritize engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

5. Amber Walls, Kelsey L Deane, and Peter John O’Connor. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, Vol. 28, No. 4. “‘Looking for the Blue, the Yellow, all the Colours of the Rainbow:’ The value of participatory arts for young people in social work practice.” 2016. New Zealand.

In this article, the authors focus on policies and practice pertaining to youth mental health and wellbeing.

January 2020

1. Yasemin Arikan, Terry Nichols Clark, Douglas S. Noonan, and George Tolley. Cultural Trends, Vol 28 No 5. “The arts, Bohemian scenes, and income.” United States. 2019. 

Where and how does arts activity drive neighbourhood revitalization? We explore the impact of arts establishments on income in US zip codes, nationally and across quantiles (from four to seven subgroups) of zip codes stratified by disadvantage (based on income and ethnicity/race). We focus on what is new here: how neighbourhood scenes or the mixes of amenities mediate relationships between the arts and income.

2. Grant Patterson and Leah Binkovitz. Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. “Artist-Planner Collaborations: Lessons Learned From Arts and Culture Ecosystems For Inclusive Planning.” United States. 2019. 

This report shows how art can be used to promote positive neighborhood change, including equity of access to resources and programs, inclusive planning processes and implementation of new strategies to promote inclusivity and maximize economic impact.

3. A New Approach. Australian Academy of the Humanities. “Transformative Impacts of Culture and Creativity.” Australia. 2019.

The report explores how investing in culture affects seven broad aspects of Australians’ lives: society and place; the economy; innovation; health and wellbeing; education and learning; international engagement and how engaging with creativity builds a strong cultural life across the nation.

4. Hill Strategies Research, Inc. Canadian Arts Presenting Association. “Vitality and Impact of Arts Presenting.” 2019. Canada. 

This study is the outcome of a pan-Canadian survey of performing arts presenters and festivals, conducted by Hill Strategies Research. It casts a light on a broad range of presenting practices and the magic that they bring into Canadians’ lives.

5. Wavehill Ltd. Arts Council England. “The Value of Arts and Culture in Place-shaping.” United Kingdom. 2019. 

This research seeks to generate further evidence to support the notion that arts and culture has the ability to promote and drive positive economic and social outcomes at a local level and thus contribute effectively to a place-shaping approach.

December 2019

1. Ben Cowell.  Cultural Trends, Vol 21 No 3. “Arts philanthropy: the facts, trends and potential.” United Kingdom. 2012.

This report by Arts and Business aims to provide the basic facts about the market for private giving to the arts in the UK, as well as recommendations on how it can be increased. Given that Arts and Business has since had its funding removed by the Arts Council, it may soon find out for itself how realistic some of its proposals for enhancing private revenues actually are.

2. Mark Rovner. Blackbaud. “Diversity in Giving: The Changing Landscape of American Philanthropy.” United States. 2015.

America is in a dramatic cultural shift, but evidence suggests that organized philanthropy may be stuck in the past. As the nation becomes more diverse, it is more important than ever to consider whether the fundraising playbook is due for an overhaul.

3. Holly Sidford and Alexis Frasz. Helicon Collaborative. “Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy.” United States. 2017.

This report documents the inequities in funding for the arts in the U.S. and laid out the aesthetic, demographic, and economic case for supporting the cultural diversity of our country more equitably.

4. Ian David Moss. Createquity. “The Last Word: Recommendations for Arts Philanthropists.” 2017. United States.

This article summarizes lessons learned in arts philanthropy by Createquity, as well as recommendations going forward for foundations, government agencies, individual philanthropists, and others providing resources to support the arts.

5. Maurine Knighton and Glyn Northington. Grantmakers in the Arts. “Racial Equity in the Arts.” 2016. United States.

This four-session web conference series explores practices used to advance racial equity in arts grantmaking, specifically focusing on the various practice components of the grant cycle.

November 2019

1. Peter Merrington, Matthew Hanchard, Bridgette Wessels, et al. Cultural Trends, Vol 28, No 2-3. “Using Mixed-Methods: A Data Model and a Computational Ontology in Film Audience Research.” 2019. United Kingdom.

This paper discusses a methodology in mixed-methods audience research that attempts to sort, order and categorise different data so that they can be systematically combined and interrogated.

2. Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. “Culture is Digital.” 2018. United Kingdom.

Culture is Digital looks at the way technology can drive audience engagement, boosting the digital capability of cultural organisations and unleashing the creative potential of technology.

3. Nesta and MTM London. “Digital Culture 2014: How arts and cultural organisations in England use technology.” 2014. United Kingdom.

The second report in the Digital Culture Survey, a three-year initiative to track digital technology use by arts and cultural organisations in England and the perceived impact of those technologies on marketing, operations, audience development, strategic

4. MTM London. “Digital Culture: How the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts impacted the arts and cultural sector.” 2016. United Kingdom.

A program-level evaluation of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, a partnership between Nesta, Arts Council England and the Arts & Humanities, which provided £7 million for collaborations between arts organisations, technology providers, and researchers.

5. Katherine Gressel. Createquity. “Smart Public Art: Interactive Technology and Public Art Evaluation.” 2017. United States.

This article focuses on the role of web and mobile technologies in evaluating, promoting and explaining public art.

October 2019

1. Eleonora Belfiore and Oliver Bennett. Cultural Trends, Vol. 3. “Determinants of Impact: Towards a Better Understanding of Encounters with the Arts.” 2007.  United Kingdom.

This article argues that current methods for assessing the impact of the arts are largely based on a fragmented and incomplete understanding of the cognitive, psychological and socio-cultural dynamics that govern the aesthetic experience.

2. Eleanora Belfiore and Oliver Bennett. Cultural Trends, Vol. 4. “The Social Impact of the Arts.” 2009. United Kingdom.

This short book is the result of a 3-year Arts and Humanities Research Council and Arts Council of England funded project at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (CCPR) at the University of Warwick. The research encompasses: orthodoxy amongst arts advocates that art can transform lives; the large scale of government investment in the arts and arts education; recent political commentary on the utility of the arts for the economy and national identity formation; the tainting of research on impacts by advocacy; and the recent “intrinsic versus instrumentalist” debate on the role of the arts in the UK.

3. Guz Raz, Titus Kaphar, Dre Urhahn, eL Seed, Magda Sayeg, and Benjamin Zander. TED Radio Hour. “How Art Changes Us.” 2019. United States.

In this edition of the TED Radio Hour, speakers share ideas on the transformative nature of art and its ability to shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us.

4. Armine Avetisyan, Cynthia Cohen, Emily Forsyth Queen, and Toni Shapiro-Phim. Brandeis University. “Imagine Impact: An emerging strategy to strengthen the arts, culture, and conflict transformation ecosystem.” 2019. United States.

IMPACT is an initiative of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University, in collaboration with the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College and Maseno University in Kisumu, Kenya. This report makes the case for the power of arts and culture to transform conflict and advocates for a platform to support the arts ecosystem.

5. Alexis Frasz and Holly Sidford. Helicon Collaborative. “Mapping the Landscape of Socially Engaged Artistic Practice.” 2017. United States.

Helicon Collaborative, supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, began this research in 2015 to contribute to the ongoing conversation on socially engaged art. Their goal was to make this realm more visible and legible to practitioners and funders.