Our ambition is to achieve no less than the creation of the most comprehensive, most theoretically- and empirically-grounded, and the most actionable systematic analysis of artistic impact on the human individual and society, shaped around the topic of transformations in the artistic context. ARTIS further lays out its objectives at the crossroad of empirical research, applied arts, and cultural policy, and directly targets the impasse between an interest in art’s potential and questions regarding its effect, which we feel is currently the most pressing issue in art advocacy and research.

We aim to set the benchmark for discussing and evaluating the efficacy of art, as well as for designing or planning its applications to societal challenges. Our vision is to not only quantify the psychological, physiological, and social aspects of the artistic experience but also integrate perspectives from art production and art education in order to eventually involve stakeholders and cultural policy management experts.

ARTIS will go beyond the state-of-the-art in a number of ways, including conceptualization, methodology, interventions, and policy-making.

First, ARTIS offers a new conceptualization of artistic impact that allows studying the multiple interactions between key actors (artist, viewer, society), in a variety of settings (museums, cities, home), from a multitude of perspectives (mainstream, marginalized and disengaged), and considering different levels of analysis (individual, society, culture). There have been only a few isolated studies that examine the impact of art from an empirical scientific perspective. There is currently no systematic approach generating a comprehensive understanding. Our ambition is to do exactly this. Our conceptualization allows investigating:

(1) what kind of experiences individuals are actually having in present interactions with art; (2) how these experiences may overlap or differ between institutionalized and non-institutionalized settings or between mainstream and marginalized groups; (3) what factors—personality, access, expectations, education— contribute to experience types; and (4) what are the actual impacts of our art experiences across a broad range of individual- and society-level measures. These multiple lines of information will in turn be united within cutting-edge model and actionable tools allowing a previously before unavailable level of detail and interconnection when understanding the nature and the potential of art experiences.

Second, in order to study the transformative power of art, ARTIS aims to utilize a systematic multidisciplinary program that integrates methods, and individual research teams, in an unprecedented empirical assessment—uniting cutting edge quantitative methods, mobile brain (fNIRS), eye-, and movement tracking, with qualitative micro-phenomenology, experience sampling, etc. Such an integrated, nuanced approach to art experience—or many human behaviors—has been a dream for art study as well as for both empirical and art critical scholars. However, to date, it has not been attempted, and certainly not with a theoretical and empirical frame for united results. Moreover, the project will situate those empirical findings with comparative studies that will deliver comparative data sets across a diverse set of European countries.

Third, we expect that the wealth of knowledge from these aims will provide a structure for working artists and in art education. It is our ambition to provide artists, and other stakeholders in the artistic community with completely new, and immediately applicable tools for their own approaches to making art, to change art schools’ approach to training artists, and to transform how aspiring artist and curators reflect on their work by providing them new means to conceptualize their impact. By working hand-in-hand with artists and with scientists, around empirical investigations, we aim to create new approaches to “art-making” itself, developing new methods and approaches (as for example, codified by KHB) for practice-based research.

Fourth, it is our aim that ARTIS will provide a revolutionary tool to arts policy makers—once again built on the empirical quantification of reactions to artworks. Through the phases of the project and unique collaborations within our team, we will provide specific information to museum planners regarding which of their artworks are the most effective in creating transformative experiences, how these relate to economic decisions, and the happiness and social health of their visitors. We can further. We aim to give tangible documentation of how institutions relate to those in other countries, as well as to art opportunities in the street or in non-institutional forms of media (online, social media, other cultural structures). We can provide the city planner with real-world evidence for how art on the street might affect citizens—how art might modify our day, our working and living decisions, or even our monthly plans. ARTIS will generate fundamentally new insights for policy makers regarding how to increase the impact of the arts and viewers’ engagement, and how to unite diverse groups through art investment. With this data, policy making will have the leverage necessary to legitimize investing in arts, supporting art education, and re-designing funding schemes; actions needed to not only sustain but also foster the transformative potential of not only art, but also of individual and societal stakeholders across the EU.