Over the last decade, Animating Democracy has supported a wide range of arts organizations doing compelling civic engagement work, implemented national research, and developed field resources and publications. Through Animating Democracy’s work, Americans for the Arts has evolved into a national resource on arts and civic engagement practice and is called upon frequently to serve as program adviser, researcher, and as a funding and research partner. Today, as the ideals and work of arts-based civic engagement have gained currency across many sectors, Americans for the Arts and the Animating Democracy staff have invested new energy in the effort to: 1) demonstrate the public value of their work to effect social change and 2) inform public and private-sector leaders about their work as part of a larger endeavor to influence the development of policy that advances the role of the arts in civic engagement.
Launched in 1999, the Animating Democracy program nurtures civic engagement through arts and culture. Animating Democracy’s emphasis on the vital role of the arts in a democratic society connects to all three of Americans for the Arts’ mission goals. The work is based on the premise that democracy is animated when an informed public is engaged in the issues affecting people’s daily lives. The arts and humanities can contribute unique programs, settings, and creative approaches that reach new and diverse participants; stimulate public dialogue about and engagement with civic issues; and inspire action to make change.