Across the nation, artistic and cultural practices are helping to define the sustainability of urban, rural, and suburban neighborhoods. In the design of parks and open spaces; the building of public transit, housing, and supermarkets; in plans for addressing needs for community health and healing trauma; communities are embracing arts and culture strategies to help create equitable communities of opportunity where everyone can participate, prosper, and achieve their full potential. And artists are seeing themselves — and being seen by others — as integral community members whose talents, crafts, and insights pave the way to support community engagement and cohesion.

“Creating Change through Arts, Culture, and Equitable Development: A Policy and Practice Primer” highlights both promising and proven practices that demonstrate equity-focused arts and culture policies, strategies, and tools. Download Executive Summary here. 

The report describes the role of arts and culture across the nine sectors below. Within each policy chart there are goals, policies, and implementation strategies that can help achieve communities of opportunity. These policies have yielded such outcomes as: support for Native artists in reservation-based cultural economies, the creation of a citywide cultural plan, engaging low-income youth of color in using digital media, and efforts to address redevelopment, employment, food access, and environmental justice.

Arts and Culture across Sectors

Public sector investments in arts and culture strengthen the connection between neighborhood identity and development (policy chart pdf). Read more about arts and culture at PolicyLink here.


Art’s unique focus on voice, expression, and the communication of difficult-to-articulate narratives can open up space for the deliberate crafting of health equity (policy chart pdf). Read more about health equity and just food access here

For the nation to prosper, all young people must have a fair chance to succeed. Arts and culture activities provide a means of both life direction and systems change (policy chart pdf). PolicyLink is also a member of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, a coalition committed to improving the life chances of California’s boys and young men of color, which you can learn more about here.

Using an arts and culture lens to shape transportation investments can result in systems that work better for the people that need them most, and yield lasting assets for communities (policy chart pdf). PolicyLink is also a co-chair of the Transportation Equity Caucus.

Arts and culture can play important roles in housing development, neighborhood stabilization, and anti-displacement strategies (policy chart pdf). Supplemental solutions to America’s housing challenges can be found in this report.

Arts and culture can be a catalyst for activation in open space design and planning so that the needs of historic and changing populations can be addressed equitably (policy chart pdf).

The huge scale of infrastructure investment and public resources for community development projects offers creative ways to leverage substantial support for arts and culture investments (policy chart pdf)

Technology and digital media create tremendous opportunity for diversity and inclusion of expression, ideas, and cultures (policy chart pdf).

The nation’s vast, diverse cultural riches can spur economic growth where it is needed most and ensure that all families can achieve financial security (policy chart pdf). Read more about how policies and strategies to build and equitable economy here