Leveraging the power of arts, culture, and the creative industries to frame, seed, and scale innovation in health and wellbeing.

Impact Louisville




Place-Based Impact (Smoketown Neighborhood | 2015-2017)

Based on Project HEAL/HOPEBOX Prototype-Smoketown Neighborhood (Louisville, KY)

Arts and culture are increasing civic engagement in neighborhood development policy.

  • A spoken word artist created a policy initiative to limit predatory advertising. Both Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness and Humana have supported the initiative with funding and as thought partners. (2017)
  • Collaborative programming between artists and YouthBuild Louisville resulted in annual volunteerism in the Smoketown community rising from 350 individuals (2014) to over 1500. (2016)
  • Project HEAL partners advocated for improvements to municipal government notification policies related to new liquor store licenses, resulting in Metro Government changing its community notification policy and  denial of licenses to two new stores attempting to locate in Smoketown. In an administrative appeal hearing,  the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control confirmed denial. (2017)

Economic opportunity is beginning to improve for both the community and artists through collaborative cultural programming.

  • Culinary and environmental workforce innovation with chefs and international groups, like the Potager du Roi (Versailles, FR), helped to create 35 new pre-apprenticeship jobs at Project HEAL’s lead partner, YouthBuild Louisville. (2016-2017)
  • More than 30 artists and cultural producers from 5 different countries produced projects in and with the Smoketown community through investment by IDEAS xLab. (2014-2017)

Healthcare access is being understood/operationalized in culturally-responsive ways.

  • To improve access to prevention, screening and healthcare services, a community health worker was hired by a local health system to work full-time alongside the Project HEAL artists as part of the core team. (2016-2017)
  • In a partnership with a digital marketing firm, graffiti art and poetry became the means for increasing online health literacy. IDEAS xLab's  positive, culturally responsive messaging produced click-through rates 83% higher than traditional health sector ad approaches. (, 2017)
  • A young poet is creating a podcast that uses poetry and first-person interviews to develop new insights into Kentuckians’ shared cultural narrative around health access. The podcast is focused in Kentucky’s oldest African American community, Smoketown (Louisville, KY) and the rural, Appalachian, White community (Jackson, KY) that is the focus of the NY Times’ Best Seller, Hillbilly Elegy. (2017)
  • Combining arts strategies with the science of the Medical Mistrust Index (an instrument to measure how mistrust of health care organizations leads to health care service underutilization), a medical student is engaged as a social justice scholar on the Project HEAL team to understand how physicians might improve patient care by bridging the trust gap with vulnerable populations (i.e.,Black, LGBTQ+, etc.). (2017)


Examples of Sector-Based Impact (Through 2017):


Community Development Sector

  • IDEAS xLab's expertise in creative placemaking, social entrepreneurship and community development attracted over one million dollars in national funding to Louisville that directly funded new cultural and health equity programs. (2014-2017)  
  • Louisville has a history of health innovation and is focused on growing this sector as a core economic driver.  IDEAS xLab is helping to lead this work as part of a core team with the Metro Louisville Government Office of Civic Innovation and Humana's Louisville Health Advisory Board. 

Arts and Culture Sector

  • Through IDEAS xLab's advocacy and leadership, Imagine 2020, Louisville's new regional arts and cultural master plan, is the first in the nation to include a specific population health research strategy – a key step in the effort to make Louisville the national thought leader in arts and public health. 
  • Americans for the Arts honored the collaborative work of Humana, IDEAS xLab and Fund for the Arts as one of the Top 10 Business-Arts Partnerships in America in 2017. General Electric and IDEAS xLab won the honor for their collaboration in 2015. 

Health and Wellbeing Sector 

  • Louisville has a growing team of experts working at the intersection of arts, culture and population health research through the Center for Art & Health Innovation -- a partnership formed in 2017 between IDEAS xLab and the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky at the University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences. 
  • For the work being done at the intersection of health equity, data-driven decision-making and social entrepreneurship in arts/culture, Louisville was recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with its 2016 Culture of Health Prize. This is the highest honor given by the largest funder of healthcare in the world.