Relation to the work program

ARTIS is proposed within the work program H2020 TRANSFORMATIONS: Societal challenges and the arts (click here for the EU H2020 webpage). Following the priorities set by the European Commission, this proposal has the aim of systematically and comprehensively targeting the stated EXPECTED IMPACT of promoting innovative approaches to societal challenges that take into account artistic perspectives by formulating, applying, and testing innovative art- based practices aimed at mutual understanding, dialogue, and civic participation, thereby enhancing social inclusion, and also contributing to the further integration of the arts in the policies and strategic goals of the EU. To accomplish this, we will uniquely address all aspects laid out in the SCOPE of the call, as illustrated in the Table below:


ARTIS Project Solution

Empirical Assessment

Proposals should develop multidisciplinary and comprehensive methods for capturing and assessing the impacts of arts on individuals, communities, and policymaking.

ARTIS sets forth a mixed-methods research program to both empirically capture and theoretically conceptualize the transformative power of art on individuals (e.g., body, mind, health, emotions) and societies/communities (e.g., prosocial and political attitudes). Specifically, we will employ bottom- up (qualitative) and top-down (quantitative) methods from diverse disciplines, such as psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and phenomenology. Sample methods are interviews, focus groups, experience sampling, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), eye-tracking, movement tracking, network modeling, and cross-cultural data analysis. The empirical data will be embedded within and challenged by theoretical approaches from philosophy, political science, and art criticism to avoid reductionism. The rich corpus of data we will assemble and the theoretical models we will build will feed into informed policymaking (see under Impact on this table).

They should capture and analyze motivations, philosophies, modes of engagement and impact from a comparative, geographically balanced perspective.

Extending our previous research that pioneered the first theoretical model of artists’ impact on societies, we will examine whether, how, and when artists impact societies by taking into account the cultural-historical context. The processes that influence artists’ societal impact will therefore be examined from a geographically balanced perspective, given that our investigation of artist’s societal impact will include geographic regions that span the entire European continent. Furthermore, we will examine how artists’ motivation for making art relates to their societal impact. We will assess viewers’ modes of engagement by using comprehensive methods from 4E

(embodied-embedded-extended-enactive) cognition and theory of art. During the intervention phase of the project, we will organize workshops with professional artists and art students to understand their motivations for making art and to debate the very idea of creating art for the purpose of social change or transformation.

Socio-Political Transformations

Proposals should also identify and test solutions to boost the role and reach of the arts as a vehicle for individual, social and political change.


The ARTIS project is based on the premise that the transformative power of art reveals itself at both the individual and societal level. As a result, the empirical phase of the ARTIS project proposes studies that investigate the potential of art to instill changes at the individual (neurocognitive, emotional, health) and societal (prosocial behavior and political attitudes) levels. Our investigation of changes at the socio-political level will include secondary survey data from all countries in the European continent that will allow exploring variables that boost but also limit the reach of the arts. In the intervention phase of the project, we will boost the reach of the arts as a vehicle for transformations by directly communicating with artists, art students, and art stakeholders through workshops, exhibitions, and symposia.


They should identify and study artistic productions that have generated new thinking, engagement, and action in relation to contemporary societal challenges as experienced in Europe (e.g., migration).

We will work with leading experts on contemporary art criticism, cultural relations, and art history, to identify particularly powerful contemporary art examples that are thought to be transforming or that have succeeded in mobilizing communities in relation to societal challenges, such as migration and climate change. These artworks will be analyzed using methods from the humanities and these analyses will be complemented by an empirical investigation of the artworks on site. In addition, we will use a bottom-up, data-driven method to identify artworks from all of our empirical studies that generated transformations.

They should identify and analyse projects and actions that have succeeded in mobilising members of our societies for a common cause, including sections of society which might otherwise remain remote from such initiatives, and identify their success factors as a basis for policy makers.

ARTIS is designed to address the breadth of the arts’ impact from a true plurality of settings and perspectives. We will specifically test whether artworks that were identified in our studies as transformative have a similar impact on individuals from marginalized communities (i.e., asylum seekers, KHB) who may not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with these objects. We will therefore make marginalized individuals’ voices heard since they can provide their own answers to art, which will allow us to identify how these groups use and respond to art, if they have specific art forms or examples that fulfill the role of social cohesion, change and transformation, as well as individuals’ own most important and provocative artworks. The insights gained from these interventions will feed back into the policy phase of the project where we will craft recommendations aimed at inclusive policymaking.

Consider the role of local, regional and national identities and traditions, of global and European intellectual trends, and of social movements in shaping artistic representations. Historical analysis and other relevant approaches from the social sciences and humanities could be used as relevant.


We will examine not only how art impacts cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physiological processes located within the individual mind and body (micro level), but also how art impacts societies depending on their dominant ideologies (e.g., the emphasis on the individual self as captured by cultural individualism or the emphasis on rule adherence as captured by cultural tightness) that shape regional and national identities (macro level). This micro/macro-level perspective will offer a 360-view on art efficacies and will shed light on how the broader cultural context shapes what people consider “transformative” in art. Importantly, the micro-macro level perspective will be matched with political science perspectives on how current social movements impact image strategies (e.g., representations of refugees) and political attitudes. Our strong focus on macro-level processes is evident in the inclusion of consortium members from art history (UOXF) and the social sciences (UNIVIE, UvA, HUB, AAH).


The relationship between art and democracy and between art and individual or community resilience should be addressed.

As part of our investigation of art’s impact on societies, we will examine the relationship between artistic engagement (i.e., participation in cultural activities) and factors that relate to community resilience, such as civic engagement, political activism, attitudes towards immigrants, social cohesion, and belongingness to supra-national identities such as the EU. We will also consider how artistic practice—especially considering participatory art—can foster democratic citizenship.

Artistic Engagement

Community penetration and mechanisms of diffusion, including the role of digital technologies for providing access to the arts, should be studied as should barriers to engagement.

Drawing on our empirical studies, we will implement programs to move into society and the everyday home and urban environments of individuals in order to capture, assess, and then create transformative interventions in their everyday lives. Specifically, we will utilize advanced digital technology, which allows contacting individuals periodically throughout their daily routine in order to identify potential interactions with art (experience sampling). Furthermore, we will use online methods to capture individuals’ most profound art experiences providing a growing online archive and creating opportunities for dialogue and sharing, based on common experiences or reactions to the same works. We will specifically test whether the same artworks have a similar impact on individuals from marginalized or disengaged communities by inviting them to engage with the same art in order to identify commonalities, success factors, as well as potential barriers to their engagement.

Particular attention should be paid to artistic productions, including participatory ones, which give voice to marginalized or disengaged groups.

Much as we will explore marginalized and disengaged individuals’ responses to art from the viewpoint of the perceiver, we will also work with marginalized artists by teaming up with dynamic programs (e.g., KHB) that work with asylum seekers and recent immigrants to Europe, giving these individuals an active role throughout our intervention phase.

Artistic Production

Practice-based research and outputs in the form of artistic production (e.g. exhibitions, performances, performing and visual arts, digital media, community arts) are encouraged.

We will work in tandem with artists, art educators, museums, and galleries throughout the project to organize a series of exhibitions, workshops, and symposia. We will work with artists at both our partner institutions and within the recent immigrant community as co-creators and co-experimenters to use the collected knowledge from this project to produce artworks with the goal of creating specific change in viewers’ perspectives relating to societal challenges. These artworks can in turn be tested for their impact using our refined empirical methods to explore potential interventions that increase the artist’s impact on society. By working closely with artists and art stakeholders, ARTIS moves beyond this call’s “Specific Challenge” that the arts can not only “complement scientific and policy approaches” but actually be active partners in generating alternative or unconventional solutions to pressing societal problems.

Policy-Making and Outreach

Include guidelines for how artists, organizations and scholars may help to solve societal challenges, for instance through influencing priority setting and through integrating the perspective of the arts in social, political and research agendas.

We argue that a systematic research program that foregrounds scientific methods for the psychological, neurophysiological, and socio-political investigation of the arts’ efficacies is necessary as a basis for subsequent interventions and policy making. Therefore, the ARTIS’ work packages, empirical data, and co-creation interventions will give specific actionable tools to policy making involving (a) techniques and strategies to be used by artists to help enhance their impact with a focus on addressing societal issues, (b) a collaboration with art universities (KHB) that aim to revise their curriculum to integrate a focus on multi-disciplinary perspectives and societally-relevant art, (c) guidelines to cultural institutions (e.g., museums or public art funding agencies) to specifically quantify and argue for the impact of their collections on individuals and society, and (d) propositions to policy planners or those working to address complex social integration topics to better consider and use art as one of their policy solutions.

To this end, opportunities for common reflection should be developed to connect actors and stakeholders such as practitioners, curators, researchers, representatives of the civil society and policy makers.

These guidelines and propositions will be actualized through our unique consortium partners, external collaborators, and Strategic Board Members who represent main pan-European societal institutions of cultural policy creation (e.g., collaboration partners UNESCO; ENCATC), advocate for art as an agent of individual and social health (IFNU), and play a key role in educating future generations of cultural policy makers (FDU).

Ultimately, the ARTIS project aspires to help the EU move its rich cultural art heritage to a next step focused on art as a vehicle for modulating and addressing the needs of its societies and provide a unified focus on transformative experience.