Necessary Relevance: The Role of the Arts in Society

YANA has developed a series of programs to explore the role of arts and culture in society, particularly in a tenuous economy and amidst fervent social justice movements. Join us for any or all of the upcoming programs featuring Yalies in all parts of the arts and cultural sectors.


Public Art: Supporting Art as a Way to Build Up & Bind Local Communities

Supporting art as a way to build up and bind local communities, and engage in creative placemaking and urban revitalization

Panelists discussed “Public Art” through prompts such as: What is the role that art plays in public space? Why and how should the public be given art in communal and public spaces? Who should financially support public works and space of art, and how much?

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021



Emeritus Professor in Global Art & Design Studies, Birmingham City University


Director of Community ArtsReva and David Logan Center for the Arts / University of Chicago


VP of Learning & Community Impact, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation


DirectorMural Arts Porch Light Program


International Painter & Muralist


We began with opening remarks about the series, gave some background data points on the Federal and State budgets and private philanthropy in the US, and then we moved into the program:

  • Jonathan Harris gave a brief history lecture on the history of federal arts grants in the US starting in a similar crisis of power and transition in US history in the 1930s during the New Deal and the community art centers operated by the Federal Art Project; he raised the issue of not having a commonly understood definition of what is “public” — never mind what constitutes “art” in a multicultural society like ours; he also advocated for radically de-centralized control of resources that help support the creation of and access to art as a way for democracy to move forward;
  • Samantha Matlin and Sara Ansell discussed the Porch Light Project and the study of whether public art can improve public health;
  • Tova spoke about her experiences as a public art and mural artist, and her flexibility of engagement with the local communities in which she travels and works; and
  • Emily Hooper Lansana described the empowering work of developing storytelling for individuals to be living tributes to culture and history in their communities