Impact in the Arts
By Andy Blacker
As an interdisciplinary research initiative within FAA, Arts Impact seeks to foster understanding of the role of arts and artists in community development and promoting social well-being to guide arts practice and policy. The initiative is a three-year pilot program, supported by Investment for Growth funding from the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, designed to build on a historic record of research, creation, and service across the college’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Krannert Art Museum, Japan House, and academic units dedicated to the study of the visual and performing arts, design, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. To lead this effort, the college welcomed Dr. Carolyn Randolph-Kato as visiting associate director and Dr. Jennifer Novak-Leonard as associate research professor and the Arts Impact research director.
The initial stages of this effort involve working with artists, arts organizations, and institutional partners across Illinois to address key information needs looking towards statewide recovery from the social and economic toll of COVID-19 and systemic racism. Through partnerships with Arts Alliance Illinois and University of Illinois Chicago, the two-year initiative Informing and Enabling Illinois’ Arts Ecosystem will address the impacts of art in communities and help identify factors that can better support the arts and artists in different regions.
Arts Impact is working in collaboration with the UIUC Extension on the Central Illinois’ Cultural Assets: Mapping Resources, People and Meaning to Propel Community and Economic Vitality, a two-year pilot project that will generate an expansive mapping of creative and cultural assets in Peoria, IL. This work stands to produce an iterative research process that will be shared with other communities interested in understanding their distinctive arts and culture ecosystem for the purpose of improved local and regional community planning and development.
Through this initiative, FAA is an institutional partner in the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP, snaaparts.org) which seeks to maximize the success and impact of creatives in society by driving evidence-informed change in training and illuminating the value of arts and design education. SNAAP addresses key information needs about artist training, work and quality of life, and is a leader in enabling scholarship and insights for bolstering the lives and careers of arts graduates.
The FAA Arts Impact Initiative will serve the University of Illinois’ land-grant mission through its focus on translation of data and research about art and artists into actionable strategies for enhancing how we work and live locally, regionally and nationally.