By: Team Slover Linett

November 30, 2021

Arts & culture research has rarely centered the experiences of Black people. It was time for some deep listening.


Our whole team is thrilled to share a new research report that we hope you and your colleagues will find useful, urgent, and unique. “A Place to Be Heard, A Space to Feel Held: Black Perspectives on Creativity, Trustworthiness, Welcome, and Well-Being” offers insights from conversations with fifty Black and African American adults around the U.S., as part of Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation: A Special Edition of Culture Track. Conversations were conducted by Melody Buyukozer Dawkins, PhD of Slover Linett and Ciara Knight, an independent researcher specializing in equitable evaluation methods, with support from Slover Linett team members Tanya Treptow, PhD and Camila Guerrero. This qualitative phase of the national research collaboration was made possible by lead funding from the Barr Foundation and Wallace Foundation and with critical early input from eight advisors at community-connected organizations. Click here or the image below to view and download the free report.

The research team took a broad, human-centered approach to these interviews, exploring creativity, trustworthiness, welcome, and community support rather than focusing narrowly on arts and culture institutions and attendance-based participation. The participants generously shared stories and reflections about how cultural activities, creativity and expression, and self-care can contribute to connection and well-being (see diagram). The co-authors have synthesized those rich insights and offered reflections and strategic provocations that can inform practice, funding, and policy across the arts and culture field.

Don’t miss the powerful foreword by transformation and equity expert Lisa Yancey, president of Yancey Consulting (a strategic partner in the initiative). And stay tuned for additional reports in the Culture + Community series from both Slover Linett and Culture Track (our friends at LaPlaca Cohen), including findings from the 2021 large-scale national audience and community survey.


We look forward to talking with you about the implications of these new findings for arts, culture, and community organizations working toward well-being, connection, and racial justice. Please email the study’s co-authors at

View, download, and share the new qualitative report here:

Also! Read the just-released Wave 2 Key Findings from Culture Track, the first of two reports from the 2021 survey phase of Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation. And please join the conversation online using #CCTTstudy and #CultureTrack.


About this national research collaboration

Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation: A Special Edition of Culture Track is a collaborative effort by Slover Linett, LaPlaca CohenYancey Consulting, and other partners to keep the cultural sector in dialogue with its communities and participants during the pandemic and inform deeper equity and justice in the years to come. The project pivoted from examining public attitudes and behaviors in a “time of crisis” in 2020 to doing so in a “time of transformation” in 2021, with a crucial focus on racialized experiences in connection with arts, culture, and community organizations.

The first phase of the initiative, conducted in Spring 2020, was intended to inform not just resilience but also innovation and progress toward equity in the cultural sector, and to give the U.S. public a voice in the future of cultural engagement. But that phase of research was designed and conducted before the murder of George Floyd ignited a national upswell of anger, grief, and activism and the Movement for Black Lives began to reshape the discourse around racism in every aspect of American life. In a follow-up statistical analysis of the same (early 2020) data published in December as “Centering the Picture,” we and our colleagues explored respondents’ experiences in relation to their racial and ethnic identities to highlight and amplify what people of color have been going through and what they would like to see changed in the future. The report revealed some unique experiences and perspectives that Black and African American adults in the U.S. have in relation to cultural engagement, digital connection with arts and culture, and social change. Knowing that qualitative methods would be necessary to understand those perspectives in a more nuanced and holistic way, we advocated for an additional phase of research in 2021.

For more details and to download reports, please visit our project site, and email with your questions, comments, or ideas for further exploration.

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