Place-based arts and cultural practices, also known as creative placemaking, can help foster social cohesion, which in turn promotes community well-being, a report from Metris Arts Consulting, in partnership with PolicyLink and the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, finds. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bush, Knight, Kresge, and Robert Wood Johnson foundations, the report, WE-Making: How Arts & Culture Unite People to Work Toward Community Well-Being (19 pages, PDF), found that community well-being includes not only mental and physical health but also individual happiness and communal creative responses to trauma and racism. Based on case studies and a literature review, the study identified five strategies for shaping the social cohesion process: building and sharing power through community ownership; connecting people across difference; including all types of community members; maintaining a consistent presence in the community through anchor spaces and organizations; and aligning with community change goals to reinforce desired impacts. The report calls on funders to invest in community-organizing efforts in the arts, health, and community development that advance cross-sector, trans-geographic, and intercultural approaches; urges policy makers to take a "culture-in-all-policies" approach that ensures that policies are intentional in supporting social cohesion; and asks that funders and policy makers consider insights from international truth and reconciliation commissions that directly confront the need for justice.
(Photo courtesy of Tamaqua Community Arts Center)