Policy Factsheet

Community-based Arts Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Supporting participation in the arts can help neighborhood renewal.1
  • Participation in the arts can lead to increased performance on indicators of health, crime, employment, and education.1

Community Groups

  • Local Artists
  • Local Businesses
  • Local Community Centers
  • Local Government

Policy Components

  • Provision of community art programs, such as art classes and community art shows.

Desired Outcomes

  • Increased social cohesion and social capital
  • Increased performance on health and education indicators
  • Improved mental health
  • Improved neighborhood renewal

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 2: Policies with Consistent Evidence from High-Quality Observational Studies.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

On average, community art programs can achieve:

  • Positive effects on a personal level such as, making new friends, feelings of being happier, more creative and confident, and reduced feelings of isolation1
  • Positive effects on a social level such as, greater community understanding, bringing different groups together, greater sense of community1
  • Positive effects on an economic level such as, new jobs, increased sales of art work, greater inward investment in the community1
  • Positive effects on an educational level such as, improved school performance1

Although results are generally positive, it is difficult to scientifically evaluate the effects of art programs and more research is needed.

Community Examples

Tacoma, Washington seeks to promote urban street art while aiming to reduce vandalism.

Pinellas County, Florida has a Public Art & Design Program.

Links to Policy Examples

Tacoma, Washington public art policy in city legislative policy manual (pg. 17)

Pinellas County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, Ch. 90, Art. III, §90-146 Public art and design


1Newman T, Curtis K, & Stephens J (2003). Do community-based arts projects result in social gains? A review of the literature. Community Development Journal, 38(4), 310-322.

2Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.