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When communities struggle, whatever the cause, a unique opportunity exists to look past immediate needs and focus on long-term recovery. NeighborWorks America is committed to seizing this opportunity by helping to build resilient communities with vibrant economies, employment opportunities, strong businesses and stable housing markets in which families want to invest. 

Resilient communities are built to last. So when challenges and disruptions happen, these communities have the resources and the infrastructure in place to bounce back in sustainable ways.

Orange mural on a fence with a sunflower and the word EPIC in white block letters

Arts and Community Development

Over the course of a year, we sought to capture what art, culture and creativity can contribute to creating equitable and engaged communities that offer opportunity to all. Our Creative Community Development report describes our exploration process and findings. The most critical needs that we identified in our research:

  • Insufficient understanding of the value of creativity, cultural expression and artistic practice to community development. 

  • Difficulty demonstrating and articulating the impact of creative community development. 

  • Struggle to identify arts partners and develop shared expectations and frameworks. 

  • The need to avoid gentrification-led displacement and promote inclusion. 

  • Failure to secure adequate financial resources. 
Recognizing creative community development as one of several components of comprehensive community development, we drafted a work plan to serve as a roadmap for our work over the next several years. The plan calls for us to:

  • Grow the capacity of our network organizations to plan and execute creative community development strategies. 

  • Support the advancement of this work in the larger community development field. 

  • Demonstrate the value of creative community development to funders and decision makers and encourage them to offer support. 

  • Integrate creativity into our own way of doing business. 

The following case studies highlight the way five of our network organizations used arts to bring residents together, bolster their communities and improve health and safety.