Joining our ArtPlace library this week is the Knight Soul of the Community (SOTC) study. SOTC was a three-year study conducted by Gallup on the twenty-six Knight Foundation communities across the U.S. Its purpose was to determine what attached residents to their communities, what made them love where they lived, and what role that attachment played in the economic development and health of that community.
What’s fascinating about this study, as previously noted by our Director of Research, Jamie Hand, is that it identified “social offerings, openness, and aesthetics” as more important factors than great schools, a strong local economy, or safe streets when considering how attached residents were to their community. And the arts, of course, play greatly into these three factors.
By identifying these factors, cities and civic officials now had new approaches to build engagement, maximize community strength, and identify physical areas of improvement, such as parks, to increase community attachment.
But why is community attachment so important? As noted in the study, people who are engaged in their community strove to make it a better place, they were both invested in it and a productive part of its economic growth. Attachment and love for a community strengthens social cohesion which in turn strengthens the overall functioning of the community.
SOTC essentially identifies arts & culture as one of the main factors a community should look to when talking about community development, economic strength, and community engagement.