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$250,000 Grant for Arts Mapping at Penn’s Social Impact of the Arts Project and City of Philadelphia

December 13, 2011, Volume 58, No. 15

The Social Impact of the Arts Project, housed at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice, is teaming with the City of Philadelphia to build and launch a Creative Assets Mapping Database, a web tool that allows users to monitor growth in creative assets and determine their civic, economic and social impacts.

The National Endowment for the Arts announced that as a part of its Our Town grants, Philadelphia’s Reinvestment Fund will receive $250,000 to work with the Social Impact of the Arts Project and the City to design the geodatabase, a web-based data and mapping system.

The Social Impact of the Arts Project will work with the City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and Commerce Departments on this multi-faceted plan, which will further research related to the relationship between cultural engagement and economic development. 

“We are very excited about working with the City of Philadelphia and the Reinvestment Fund,” said Mark J. Stern, Kenneth L.M. Pray Professor at the School of Social Policy & Practice and principal investigator of the Project. “Our research has demonstrated a strong and persistent connection between cultural engagement and many dimensions of social well-being: increased civic engagement and neighborhood revitalization and declines in poverty, ethnic and racial harassment and social stress.”

The geodatabase will inform planning, marketing, policy development and public and private arts investment strategies. “Working with our partners, we hope to develop a more dynamic mapping system that will be of use to researchers, community developers, the arts community and ordinary citizens,” Dr. Stern said.

The inaugural round of Our Town funding totals $6.575 million in grants, which will be distributed to 51 communities in 34 states that have created public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while shaping the social, physical and economic characters of their neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions.

The Social Impact of the Arts Project conducts research on the role of arts and culture in American cities with a particular interest in strategies for arts-based revitalization. 

Since 1994, the Project has focused on developing empirical methods to study the links between cultural engagement and community well-being.

Almanac - December 13, 2011, Volume 58, No. 15