WHAT IS SOCIAL INNOVATION?
Social innovation is a relatively new term (but old concept) that started to spread across many disciplines. The increasing challenges facing our generation such as climate change, human rights, racial and political tensions, health care, poverty, and unemployment have inspired many people to think about innovative ways to tackle these difficult issues.
The Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University defines social innovation as “a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions. The value created accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals.” It is the type of innovation that seeks to improve and empower communities and make them more resilient.
The art community has been looking at the social innovation movement and thinking about how artists and art organization can contribute to the wellbeing of society and address social challenges. Who else has the imagination, creativity, and social awareness to help their communities more than artists?
SOCIAL INNOVATION & NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans is one of the greatest cities in the United States. It is a vibrant city with deep history and interest in art and culture. However, it is also a city with many social and environmental challenges.
For example, a recent report by the Data Center indicates that “Thirty-nine percent of New Orleans children live in poverty. That is more than 17 percentage points higher than the national average”. This horrifying statistic warns that poverty is preventing New Orleans children of healthy brain development and increasing the likelihood that their lives will be steeped in trauma and lifelong learning difficulties. Additionally, although the murder rate in New Orleans dropped 4% in 2013, still, New Orleans' murder rate remains one of the highest in the country and more than triple the average for comparably sized U.S. cities.
In short, New Orleans needs every helping hand to address some of the social challenges facing the city. Within this context, we believe that artists can have a significant role to play.