Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City —2014-2017

(Original Post) 8 March 2017

From 2014 to 2017, building on their work in Philadelphia, SIAP with Reinvestment Fund undertook a study of culture and social wellbeing in New York City. The project involved development of a 10-dimension social wellbeing framework—beginning with construction of a cultural asset index—for every neighborhood in New York City’s five boroughs. Integration of cultural assets into a multi-dimensional index of social wellbeing allows us to assess the contribution of culture and the arts to neighborhood ecology and their relationship to broader community vitality.

NYC’s social wellbeing tool enabled a variety of analyses: the distribution of opportunity across the City; identification of areas with concentrated advantage, areas with concentrated disadvantage, as well as “diverse and struggling” neighborhoods with both strengths and challenges; and analysis of the relationship of neighborhood cultural ecology to other features of community wellbeing. Qualitative neighborhood studies—with a focus on Fort Greene in Brooklyn and East Harlem in Manhattan—helped the research team interpret and elaborate the findings of the quantitative analyses.

The final research report (March 2017) and accompanying briefs (Feb 2016, Feb 2017) document the conceptual framework, data and methodology, findings and implications of the three-year project. Since release of the March 2017 report, the research team has completed four working papers on New York City that further explore the relationship of neighborhood cultural ecology to social wellbeing—the concepts that have animated the research—and expand our understanding of the dynamics of neighborhood change as the context within which cultural ecosystems evolve. Two papers discuss new methods, developed by SIAP and Reinvestment Fund, to assess rapid neighborhood change in light of citywide patterns of geographic mobility and displacement risk among residents.

The Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City project was undertaken with support by the Surdna Foundation, the New York City Cultural Agenda Fund in the New York Community Trust, and the University of Pennsylvania. The research was conducted between 2014 and 2017.

Read more about the report HERE