Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Arts and Culture Indicator Project Launches New Website

From our friends at ACIP and NNIP:

ACIP recently launched a new website
( as a resource for those interested in developing indicators on arts and cultural vitality, including artists, researchers, community leaders, community development practitioners, and arts administrators and funders. Visitors of the site will find extensive information on indicators of cultural vitality, which ACIP defines as the practice of creating, disseminating, validating and supporting the arts and culture as a dimension of everyday community life and conditions.

The Arts and Culture Indicator Project (ACIP) has operated in conjunction with the National Neighborhood Indicator Partnership (NNIP) since the late 1990s. ACIP promotes the idea that having information about the presence and effects of arts and culture in communities can help policymakers and community members make better decisions for neighborhoods and cities. As Maria Rosario Jackson, director of ACIP, notes, "You cannot adequately grasp the experience of race and ethnicity or socio-economic status without some understanding of a community's cultural expression. The demographic figures on communities tell only a limited part of the story. You also have to understand the cultural expression of the community to get at the heart of it". ACIP has shown that information on the presence of arts and culture in communities can help shape many areas of policy, including economic development, education, and transportation.

ACIP collaborates with local affiliates on cultural vitality indicators work in seven cities across the country. Five of the seven affiliates, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., are NNIP partners. Other affiliates include the Great Valley Center, located in Central Valley, CA, and the Active Arts Initiative at the Los Angeles County Music Center. The ACIP Affiliates page highlights the affiliates and the work in their local communities.

The website provides many resources for individuals and organizations interested in creating, interpreting, and using cultural vitality indicators in their communities and neighborhoods. The web site includes the following sections:

Cultural Vitality Defined: This section offers a definition of cultural vitality, recommends areas of measurement, and discusses the far-reaching impact these indicators can have on various types of policy, including education, public safety, economic development, health, and civic engagement.

ACIP Reader: The Reader lists research and publications on arts and culture indicators, covering both the conceptual framework and practical applications. It also documents the national data sources from which one can develop comparable arts and culture indicators.

Case Examples: Here you can learn about communities in the United States where cultural vitality indicators are being used to inform planning and policymaking in various policy areas. Presently, the case example on the ACIP site highlights California's San Joaquin Valley use of arts and culture indicators for the improvement of the 250-mile stretch of Route 99.

Further additions to the site will be made soon, including updated city rankings based on nationally comparable data and examples of how cultural vitality indicators can be derived from unlikely local data sources, including police, school district, or economic development data.


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