Arts, Culture, and Equitable Development

From 2015-2019, PolicyLink worked to expand the equity policy impact in five cities and one county by utilizing arts and culture strategies to win structural change for thosecommunities. The Arts, Culture and Equitable Development Initiative focused on equitable development and equity policy change with the following organizations: 

  • Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia worked to anchor 100 families, with 100 homes and 100 jobs for 100 years in a disinvested community threatened by gentrification.
  • Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh provided a platform for artists and cultural production in an African American corridor facing tech expansion.
  • Galeria de la Raza & Mission Economic Development Agency in San Francisco aquired 2000 properties to keep Latino culture bearers and spaces rooted. Read about how they worked as strategic partners to comprehensively address issues of cultural and physical displacement.
  • Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition in Oakland advocated for cultural plan, cultural spaces, greater investment in communities of color, and cultural commission that can guide continuity for creative communities. Read about how Oakland’s civic leaders, advocates, and residents informed the development of the city's cultural development plan.
  • Art 180 & Performing Statistics in Richmond, VA worked to end police in schools, reduce police-youth interactions, and end school to prison pipeline. Read about how Performing Statistics is promoting the perspectives of young people involved with the juvenile system to help reduce and improve interactions with police and to work towards police-free schools.
  • Letcher County Culture Hub in Kentucky worked to restore a vibrant economy based on cultural assets rather than extractive industries. Read about how this network is fostering and developing residents’ agency and assets, and build on the strength of its own rich cultural wealth.

These three-year policy change pilots demonstrate how to address displacement, intergenerational poverty, health disparities, successful immigrant integration, criminal justice reform, and equitable economies, helping make better places for communities of color, making stronger policy actors in these communities, and teaching PolicyLink how to align arts and culture for greater policy impact. 

In November of 2017, the cohort conducted a ‘Design Dash’ to plan for the restoration and health of the north Philadelphia community surrounding the Village of Arts and Humanities.  

This work is supported by a grant from the Kresge Foundation.