WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is leading a new task force of 13 federal agencies and departments to encourage more and better research on how the arts help people reach their full potential at all stages of life.
"Human Development" is a framework that researchers, policymakers, and practitioners use to devise research and programs that help people lead full lives from early childhood through old age.
While many studies have found links between the arts and positive cognitive, behavioral, and social outcomes, most of this research is small-scale and short-term. There are major gaps in federally sponsored arts research.
For example, there is no large-scale research on the arts and creative thinking, a critical asset in today's global economy. There are research gaps on how the arts influence both youth and aging populations. And there is no nationally representative research on how the arts affect people with illness, injury, or disability.
Until now, arts research has not been part of significant research on human development, and there has been little coordination among federal agencies, researchers, and practitioners to rectify this problem.
Taking a collective leap forward, the members of the NEA Interagency Task Force will work together to help fill the research gaps and build a stronger evidence base to inform future policy and practices nationwide.
The task force will:
• host a series of quarterly webinars on compelling research and practices;
• coordinate the distribution of information about funding opportunities for researchers and providers of the arts, health, and education across the lifespan;
• conduct or commission a gap-analysis and literature review of federally sponsored research on the arts and human development;
• identify and leverage joint research funding opportunities across agencies;
• host a convening with researchers and practitioners for professional development and capacity-building in the field of arts and human development
The task force is a result of "The Arts and Human Development," a white paper that proposes a framework for long-term collaboration among federal agencies to build capacity for future research and evidence sharing about the arts' role in human development. The white paper stems from a first-ever convening between the NEA and the Department of Health and Human Services in March 2011 in Washington, D.C., with NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
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