Arts, Culture, and Equitable Development

For centuries, low-income communities and communities of color have used arts and culture to navigate and survive systemic racism and oppression. These strategies are essential to retaining collective memory, promoting healing, and liberating the potential within all of us. PolicyLink believes that arts and culture is not only a strategy to achieve but also a core component of an equitable society.

Arts and culture can activate, amplify, and extend the power and reach of the voices of the one-in-three Americans living in or near poverty, to accelerate equity for themselves and the nation. PolicyLink lifts up and magnifies arts and culture as both a core component and approach to equitable development and movement building. Our efforts span the full breadth and depth of PolicyLink work, touching health, infrastructure, equitable economy, workforce development, and every issue in our portfolio. Read our framing paper to learn more about moving equitable development policy across multiple sectors — aided by the use of arts and culture practices.

We are working to advance, research, and support the growing national community of practice that is steering public resources to embed these values into the transformation of neighborhoods, cities, and regions:

  • As the research and documentation partner for ArtPlace America's Community Development Investments program, we are sharing how non-arts organizations are integrating arts and culture to help achieve their community development goals.
  • In partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, we co-created and assessed a creative placemaking technical assistance pilot program for the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program and The Kresge Foundation Creative Placemaking program.
  • With support from The Kresge Foundation, the PolicyLink signature Arts, Culture, and Equitable Development (ACED) Initiative used arts and culture methods to support equitable policy change across the country.
  • With commissioned spoken word artist and activist A Scribe Called Quess?, "We, the 100 Million" integrated creative practices into National Equity Atlas research about the one-in-three Americans who live at or near poverty.
  • With Metris Arts and the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, PolicyLink coordinated the translational phase of a study on arts and culture strategies, social cohesion, and health equity.
  • Building A Cultural Equity Plan is an online resource that provides guidance and resources for agencies and communities aspiring to achieve cultural equity in their neighborhood, city, county, or region.