Arts Social Impact: Transforming Communities

Did you know that 79% of King County residents believe arts benefit their personal well-being, yet only 28% think arts and culture promote social change at a community-level? On October 25th, ArtsFund released a new research study on the Social Impact of the Arts in King County that seeks to correct this misconception by exploring the ways the arts promote social change and address community needs. What are the public benefits of the arts?

The ArtsFund study is one of the early publications in the nation—and the first in our region—synthesizing arts’ impacts across multiple social themes. There are three primary focus areas: youth development & education, health & wellness, and neighborhood vitality. In each, the report probes the potential for arts to influence more equitable outcomes.

Our work examines where arts intersect with timely social issues such as: positive civic and educational outcomes for vulnerable youth; social cohesion in an increasingly diverse and disconnected population; an aging population living longer with disease;  a state of emergency on homelessness; workforce readiness and the future of work; safe, vibrant, and inclusive neighborhoods; and inequitable access to opportunity.

Our research uncovers a disconnect between public perception of the value of the arts and their impact. This disconnect not only threatens the sustainability of the sector, but the future of our community. Consider the alternatives. Consider the stakes if, as our population grows, we aren’t open to cultures and perspectives different from our own.  Consider the challenges facing today’s youth, and the skills they’ll need to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.  Consider an aging and increasingly isolated population. Consider an exponential widening of the opportunity gap.

The Stranger reports: “This study proves the arts can help solve serious problems facing this region in particular, including homelessness, inequitable and inadequate education, and general divisiveness.” Check out additional coverage of the study in City Arts Magazine and this National Endowment for the Arts blog post.

Cities throughout the world are implementing arts-based strategies to deal with economic, community, and social development. If King County is to meet our most pressing challenges, we will need to find a way to leverage and expand the powerful impacts of the arts so more people and communities can benefit.

Join us in amplifying the message.  Learn more about the ways arts are creating opportunity and advancing community priorities in our King County by reading the new ArtsFund Social Impact of the Arts study, available at

Funding support for the 2018 Social Impact Study was provided by:


       Seattle-Foundation_4c-Logo.png        4culture_black

       king county                         


Social Impact Study Community Conversation sponsors: