Arts and Policy. Certificate for Cities

“Our project is more actual and necessary than ever before. We have received so many impulses that we could use as a city administration to create opportunities instead of limits for artists and to use their impulses for us as an administration to become better.” Dr. Liane Schmitt,  Director of the Organization and Personnel Department, City of Mannheim, September 2022.

Program July 2022

Program August 2022

     “Had I understood how participatory arts promote personal and public growth, I would have made different decisions as an economist.” This “aha” moment reported by José Molinas, of the World Bank and Paraguay’s Minister of Development, is the inspiration for our “Certificate in Arts and Policy.” It is a pathbreaking response to missed opportunities. Decision-makers can access abundant resources to advance a range of objectives through participatory arts. Security, mental health, school dropout rates, substance abuse, are among the chronic challenges of many cities today. They have not responded well to high cost and sometimes punitive interventions. On the other hand, youth orchestras, mural crews, dance troupes, theater groups, etc. bring results. They provide benefits at two levels: First, they keep youth and their families occupied with collaborative pro-social activities that reduce crime, depression, and dropout rates. Second, they articulate city agencies to improve public services. A youth orchestra, for example, engages transportation, security, health, education, etc. to keep young and older citizens occupied in pleasant activities. Compared to the high financial and emotional costs of addressing violent conflict and trauma with police, prisons, and emergency rooms, the arts represent significant savings to a city. Certification will improve policymaking when public service and private sector social impact effectively engage creative agents for civic and economic development.


     The Certificate bridges the needs of public policy and civil society with the creative energy of the arts. Together, we develop social capital and sustain growth in politics, economics, and culture. Economists and policymakers seldom factor arts and humanities into their recommendations and decisions. This forfeits significant resources for development. Art is an alternative to addiction, illiteracy, and boredom. And thinking about artistic choices develops the 21st Century skills that serve science as well as civics: Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication sustain both technological innovation and democracy. People who do not enjoy thinking will hardly participate in the difficult deliberations that democracy requires.

     Until now, few policy makers have considered the ambivalent meaning of culture. It has two practically opposite meanings. For social scientists (policymakers) – it refers to a legacy of shared practices and beliefs. But for artists and humanists, culture is a platform to interrupt harmful practices. Without art, change is practically unthinkable. The difference in definition has meant that policymakers often ignore culture as fuel for development. We can change that.


  • The “cabinet” of a city government, as a working group.
    • To stimulate collaborations, not primarily to promote personal advancement.
    • A Human Resources officer, or City Manager coordinates and joins 10-20 participants in the Certificate program.
  • Private sector representatives for Social Impact investments
    • Business and industry will maximize their social impact investments 
    • Representatives participate in working groups to develop public-private teams.
    • Representatives monitor and support the development of prototypes. 
  • Local artists whose networks and experience support participatory interventions
    • The range of arts is site-specific. E.g.:
    • Directors of orchestras
    • Theater
    • Muralists
    • Poets,
    • Etc.


  • Four online seminars led by experts in a range of fields.
  • Four in-person workshops to develop prototypes of low cost, high impact, participatory arts processes.
The Framework   Faculty / Advisors