Peacebuilding and the Arts

Invite|Affirm|Evoke|Unleash Research Project

a colorful decorative image made from hand-crafted paper

"Petals of Hope". An image made from paper hand-crafted from flowers left at a memorial for victims of a 1998 bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland (1999).

Photo Credit: Carole Kane, facilitating artist


How artistic and cultural processes transform complex challenges

This research project and report were developed by IMPACT (Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation) in partnership with the Community Arts Network, a joint venture of the Porticus and Hilti Foundations, along with ReCAST Inc. We believe that through deep and ethical engagement, the field of arts, culture and conflict transformation (ACCT) contributes to creating a world where dignity, vibrancy, creativity and multiple forms of justice inscribe relationships with nature and each other. We also believe that constructively engaging with the urgent, complex challenges facing communities, humanity and the planet requires insights from many different sources — including artistic and cultural practices, wisdom traditions, multiple scholarly disciplines and practitioners of many kinds, including artists, peacebuilders and other changemakers. 

For these reasons, IMPACT composed a diverse team for this research project. We commissioned ten researchers, from 10 countries, including scholar/practitioners based in universities, NGOs and cultural organizations, to write memos investigating theory and practice surrounding different distinctive features of engagement with and through the arts. We encouraged them to allow their thinking to be informed by their cultures, their disciplines, their practice and their experiences. We turned to thought leaders in the ACCT field to challenge assumptions, raise questions, and suggest resources. We created opportunities for conversations among the researchers and the thought leaders. These conversations surfaced the "Invite! Affirm! Evoke! Unleash!" framework, which became a turning point in our thinking. We also educated ourselves about the nature of complexity, complex adaptive systems and the intertwined nature of contemporary challenges. All of these memos and conversations became grist for the current draft of the report. 

We believe our inquiry drawing on multiple modes of knowing will be groundbreaking. Of course, the significance of this report depends on how you, the readers, make it your own and make use of it in the world. Whether you are skeptical of the contributions of arts and culture to constructive engagement with complex challenges, or a committed champion, we look forward to your comments, suggestions, questions and your reservations. Like any creative act, we hope the development and dissemination of this report will open possibilities for new conversations, new inquiries, new framings of issues, and new questions: in other words, additional new creative acts. 

Read the full report.

Title slide: 'Making the Case' Research Project Researchers speaking about their interest in the art qualities they are exploring

Video: 'Making the Case' Researchers (37:07)

Watch the clip in which researchers talk about their interest in particular art qualities.