Our History

Over the last 15 years, numerous conferences, conversations and reports have addressed the potential and the challenges of engaging art and culture in creating more just, more vibrant, and less violent communities.

Governments and intergovernmental agencies, policy think tanks, educational and cultural institutions, artists, and funders increasingly have become interested in the contributions of the arts and culture to social justice, mutual understanding, and the creative transformation of conflict. Today there is growing consensus about:

  • The need for an infrastructure that will strengthen practice and inform policy in this arena, by, for instance, documenting excellent practice, offering training and education, facilitating exchanges, coordinating responses in cases of artists at risk of human rights abuses, and addressing questions of evaluation and ethics.
  • The value of a network, consortium or organization of stable educational and cultural institutions that will serve as resource centers and as anchors for the more fluid network of individual initiatives and organizations working in communities on the ground.

This growing consensus led into a planning process to design an infrastructure to support the arts, culture, and conflict transformation ecosystem. The planning process, which ran from September 2017 to February 2019, was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and coordinated through the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis in collaboration with the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College (Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA) and Maseno University (Kisumu, Kenya).

During the planning process, voices from over 500 people and groups in seven regions of the world shared thoughts on the strengths, needs, and challenges of the acct ecosystem.

Design Labs

In September 2018, IMPACT convened 26 people from across the arts, culture, and conflict transformation ecosystem coming from 18 countries in a multi-faceted, creative design exercise facilitated by EmcArts to imagine how structures and processes can best address complicated and complex issues facing the acct ecosystem. In December 2018, IMPACT facilitated a youth-focused design lab (pdf)* involving 35 young artists from nine countries.

Accomplishments During the Planning Process

  • Inspired acct players to think about one another as part of a dynamic ecosystem
  • Led powerful in-person and virtual learning exchanges, engaging 300 diverse participants in thinking deeply
  • Shared learnings with acct through newsletters in English and Spanish and the Arts Education Policy Review (pdf)*
  • Created a web of teams focusing on strategy, ethics, advocacy, virtual learning exchanges, regional hubs, and working groups [more: page 31 of the IMPACT Report*]
  • Distributed power and strengthened trust by launching a diverse, global Leadership Circle
  • Developed partnerships and strengthened collaborations with international, national, regional, and local organizations [more: page 22 of the IMPACT Report*].
  • Secured seed funding to ensure near-term continuity of IMPACT's basic functions

Read more in Imagine IMPACT: An Emerging Strategy to Strengthen the Arts, Culture, and Conflict Transformation Ecosystem (pdf)*.

*PDFs included here may be requested by completing the online publication request form.