WEBINAR: What Makes Arts for Change Work Excellent? Impact measurement with Animating Democracy

In the spring of 2018, OTF hosted a series of three webinars exploring approaches for measuring the impact of community-engaged arts practices. Impact evaluation is an especially hot topic in the arts sector. To many, it can seem like a daunting task to capture the diverse and nuanced impacts of participating in the arts, especially in an environment of limited resources. That’s why I was especially thrilled to come across three resources that advance accessible approaches to evaluating the impact of this important work.

In the first of these three webinars, we partnered with Animating Democracy to introduce their Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change Toolkit. In "What Makes Arts for Change Work Excellent?", Animating Democracy co-director Pam Korza gives a walk-through of the framework, providing context for how & why it came to be and demonstrating how others have been using it since its introduction in 2016. This one is particularly exciting to me because it establishes a common language grounded in aesthetics around how art contributes to positive social change. This is one area where I believe many arts organizations are stymied as many evaluation approaches use measurement language that is grounded in the social sciences.

Aesthetic Perspectives is a framework to enhance understanding and evaluation of creative work at the intersection of arts and civic engagement, community development, and justice. Aesthetic Perspectives describes 11 attributes of excellence defined by artists that can be observed in socially engaged work in all artistic disciplines. These attributes address the potency of creative expression to embody and motivate change.



About Animating Democracy:
Animating Democracy is a program of Americans for the Arts that inspires, informs, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to community, civic, and social change. Animating Democracy’s current work centers on building evaluation capacity of practitioners, funders, and other stakeholders to understand the impact of arts-based civic engagement and social change. Americans for the Arts is America’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts. With nearly 60 years of service, it is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.

About Pam Korza:
Pam Korza co-directs Animating Democracy. Her writing and editing on assessing arts and social change work includes: the framework, Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change; the Continuum of Impact guide; “Evaluating Impact/Appreciating Evaluation;” a chapter in the book, Arts and Community Change (Routledge, 2015), and Critical Perspectives: Writings on Art & Civic Dialogue. For nine years, she co-led the Assessing Practices in Public Scholarship research group of Imagining America. She has consulted and offered workshops and presentations on evaluation for the Center for Civic Practice’s Catalyst Initiative, Boston Artist in Residence program, and on arts and civic engagement for artists, cultural organizations, funders, and at cross-sector gatherings across the country and in China and South Korea.


Have you used the Aesthetic Perpsectives tool? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Please share your experiences and questions here.