strategies for social change

My Summer Reading: Current Evaluation and Measurement Techniques for Cultural Strategy

(If you are looking for my take on this reading, go to the accompanying article here.)

A colleague recently asked a group of cultural strategists and organizers for their thoughts on how to measure success around cultural impact. Many responded by sharing dozens of case studies, articles and resources. I wondered if the deluge of reading materials would reveal anything new so I took a few weeks to read all of them, as well as a bunch more that I found referenced within. I also went back through relevant meeting notes and comments from group conversations.

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My Take: Current & Future Evaluation and Measurement Techniques for Cultural Strategy

This article follows an annotated reading list on evaluation and measurement techniques for cultural strategies, and is focused on my analysis of current themes in the readings and my ideas for the future. As I said in the previous article, it is clear that better and more systematized measurement and evaluation is a “next big hurdle” for our field. I want these two articles to help fast-track that work by spurring conversation and, more importantly, collective action and funding. I welcome comments, others writing articles of their own, individual and group conversations, hack-days to build new tools, and anything else that can get us there.

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13 Key Principles For Working With Artists

These tips for working with artists is an excerpt from Making Waves: A Guide to Cultural Strategy, an easy-to-read guidebook from The Culture Group.Making Waves aims to help grassroots and advocacy groups understand how to effectively work with artists and intentionally and wisely integrate arts, culture, and media into their work. For more resources on cultural strategy, please refer to our reading list here.

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A Cultural & Narrative Strategies Reading List

curated by Erin Potts and Liz Manne

Many funders and field practitioners want to integrate cultural and narrative strategies into their work, but feel an urgent need to better understand them. Over the past several years, several reports and articles have been written that combined give a comprehensive overview of cultural strategies, culture change, narrative, story, and audience-centered research practices. We have collected many of them here, and will update this list as more are written. Please use the comments section to make suggestions for additional readings that you have found helpful and inspiring!

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How (and Why) to do a Cultural Audit

Cultural strategy is a field of practice that centers artists, storytellers, media makers and cultural influencers as agents of social change. It springs from the central notion that politics is where some of the people are some of the time, but culture is where all of the people are all of the time. A key component to smart cultural strategy is the cultural audit, a research practice that provides movements and campaigns with a deeper and more emotionally resonant understanding of their audience than traditional research practices do on their own. Cultural audits help orient campaigns’ communications strategies to the cultural lives of their audience, getting to the heart of the audience’s hopes, fears and joys as expressed in the culture they consume, make and share. Cultural audits can also help campaigns discover pathways that truly inspire audiences and have the capability of uniting otherwise disparate groups.

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IGNITING CULTURAL CHANGE: A Proactive Approach to Organizing

I wrote this memo in December of 2013 as part of The Culture Group. Given the renewed interest in cultural strategies, it seems a good article to repost here and now.


The purpose of this memo is to present an idea that has been percolating in The Culture Group for several years around proactive, concept-based cultural organizing and campaigns. This memo will admittedly ask more questions than it answers. But our hope is to help spur yet another important thread of conversation on the betterment, efficacy, and nuances of cultural organizing.

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