The grant will support the completion of pilot Community Innovation Labs launched in 2015 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Providence, Rhode Island, as well as the launch of two additional labs in communities still to be identified. EmcArts will open a competitive national search for the new cities this spring.
The Innovation Lab program is designed to build the capacity of local communities to tackle complex social challenges by integrating the arts into a rigorous process framework that prioritizes four key principals: a focus on building dense, cross-sector networks; a willingness to slow down to see systems as a whole; an ability to harvest the unique contributions of artists and cultural workers; and a willingness to learn from experiment and let go of linear planning.
"We are proud to fund the Community Innovation Labs in multiple American cities," said Regina Smith, interim managing director of arts and culture at Kresge. "We are invested in interdisciplinary, cross-sector programs that help communities address intractable problems, disrupt systemic barriers, and tangibly improve their economic and cultural outcomes. The Community Innovation Labs, with their focus on artistic integration, systems change, local relevance, and courageous innovation, are aligned with these goals. We're thrilled to support EmcArts and our local Lab partners in this important work and urge the larger philanthropic community to join us in funding this critical initiative."