Wearing my World Policy Institute Senior Fellow hat, I am organizing a fortnightly series of articles on the role of art in public policymaking. The series invites WPI fellows and project leaders as well as external practitioners to contribute pieces on how artists have led policy change and how policymakers can use creative strategies. The core themes engaged by WPI—media/conflict, security, water, migration, and the economy—will serve as guideposts for the series.
The reason I want to do this series is because, I’ve spent my time and energy over the last few years trying from both the arts side and the policy side to create a bridge of understanding between the two. What do artists mean for example when they claim to have a social practice? How does one assess that? I believe that a social practice can be verified by asking the creative practitioner to identify the policy area in which she/he hopes to affect change. I encourage using a policy lens to evaluate social change, because I think it helps artists to assert their influence and feel more legitimate in the face of shrinking cultural resources as they identify the area of society in which they seek to affect change as well as how that change may be measured. Similarly, I think that policymakers stand to learn new ways of communicating and advocating policy change through closer contact with artists working on the same issues.