Culture is Key: Strengthening Rhode Island’s Civic Health through Cultural Participation
The Humanities Council has supported civic education through our grants and partnerships for decades. In 2020, the Council is launching Culture is Key, an initiative to understand, test, and evaluate the role of cultural participation on our state’s civic health. Culture is Key is supported by the Rhode Island Foundation, the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cultural Participation and Civic Health
There is an urgent need to improve civic health. Public trust of, and participation in, democratic and traditional civic institutions is low. Many factors contribute to disengagement, including political partisanship, increasing income disparity, and divisive media technologies. However, a growing body of research points to the role of cultural participation in rebuilding civic life, encouraging communities to come together to learn about our shared histories, diverse experiences, and to envision a better future. The Humanities Council will build on this research to take action in Rhode Island.
- Civic Health Fellow who, working with staff and an Advisory Committee of local experts, will identify, synthesize, and evaluate indicators, data, and metrics related to cultural participation and civic health in Rhode Island.
- Seed projects that will actively test and evaluate the impact of adapting cultural programs to be more aligned with civic and digital/media literacy outcomes.
- Publication of a report that analyzes the data collected, documents the impact of seed projects, and shares methods for aligning existing cultural experiences with social and civic outcomes.
Meet the Fellow: Julia Lazarus
Julia Lazarus is an experience designer and cultural project producer interested in creative audience engagement, public humanities program development, and strategic cultural planning. She comes to the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities’ Culture is Key fellowship position from her recent role as Assistant Director of Online Learning & Innovation at Brown University’s School of Professional Studies, where her team developed and delivered both fully online and blended courses for high school students, Brown undergraduates, professional adults, and Brown’s global public. Her prior work included museum programming, educational technology, multimedia content production, community journalism, and film, in projects for Microsoft Network, Scholastic, StoryCorps, NOOK Kids, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others. Julia holds an MA in Public Humanities from Brown’s Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, as well as degrees in literature from Duke University and Wesleyan University. She is passionate about making art and ideas accessible and relevant to audiences, and the ways in which culture contributes to vibrant civic life and public spaces.