Assessing Arts for Change: Understanding Aesthetic Perspectives

Recorded On: 05/14/2019

image About this Webinar

How do you assess Arts for Change?  Arts for Change—creative work at the intersection of community/civic engagement, community development, and justice—often challenges the conventional terms by which the arts are described and assessed. Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, worked with artists and their allies to develop a framework designed to enhance understanding and evaluation of Arts for Change.

Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change features 11 aesthetic attributes of excellence defined by artists that can be observed across a spectrum of community engaged arts and culture. The framework aims to: elevate aesthetics, address inequity resulting from historical domination of Euro-American aesthetic standards, expand criteria for assessing civically and socially engaged art, and promote deeper appreciation for the rigor required for such work.  It offers guidance for discussing artists’ approaches to work, the qualities of the work as experienced by audiences and participants, and the connections of art to context.   

This webinar introduces the framework and offers an opportunity for exchange around the often elusive and challenging topic of artistic excellence. Participants will learn how artists and funders have already put Aesthetic Perspectives to use and imagine how it might help meet agency interests and the artist and communities they serve.  Check out the framework materials in advance, if you like, at:

This webinar is free as part of our support and service to the field, as is the Aesthetics Perspectives framework. Please consider becoming a member or donating to Americans for the Arts to support ongoing access to resources like these for everyone. 

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Barbara Schaffer Bacon

Co-Director, Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts

Barbara Schaffer Bacon co-directs Animating Democracy, 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. Additionally, she contributes to Local Arts Advancement work at Americans for the Arts. Barbara has written, edited, and contributed to many publications including Trend or Tipping Point: Arts & Social Change Grantmaking; Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy; Case Studies from Animating Democracy; Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force for Civic Dialogue; Fundamentals of Local Arts Management; and The Cultural Planning Work Kit.  A consultant in program design and evaluation, Barbara has served as an adviser for state and national arts agencies and private foundations. Barbara previously served as executive director of the Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts. She is president of the Arts Extension Institute, Inc. and a board member for WomenArts. Barbara served for 14 years on the Belchertown, MA School Committee.  In 2018, Barbara received the Robert E. Gard Foundation Leadership Award. She currently serves as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 

Cristyn Johnson

Local Arts Advancement Program Manager, Americans for the Arts

Cristyn Johnson is the Local Arts Advancement Program Manager at Americans for the Arts. In this capacity, she develops Americans for the Arts’ comprehensive full-career-spectrum field education offerings to advance competent and informed local, regional and national arts professionals.  She also develops a suite of programs and resources centered around the full leadership pipeline and organizational needs of a diverse workforce. She manages, grows, and cultivates an Emerging Leaders Network, a Mid-Career Leaders Network, and an Executive Leaders Network by building a connected network of arts professionals in the field of practices, who can share their knowledge with the field at large.        


Assessing Arts for Change: Understanding Aesthetic Perspectives Webinar
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