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

Culture of Health Prize

Louisville KY: 2016 Culture of Health Prize Winner


Culture of Health Prize awarded to LOUISVILLE by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Louisville, KY is one of seven winners of the 2016 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

IDEAS xLab, Greater Louisville Project, Community Foundation of Louisville and KentuckyOne Health were the Louisville leadership team who led our city to being chosen from nearly 200 applicant communities across the country for the prestigious RWJF Prize. 

To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Louisville had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six criteria:

  • Defining health in the broadest possible terms.
  • Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.
  • Cultivating a shared and deeply-held belief in the importance of equal opportunity for health.
  • Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
  • Securing and making the most of available resources.
  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.


Louisville earned the prestigious RWJF Prize for

Commitment to health equity,

Data-driven decision making,

Collective impact models,

Violence prevention efforts,


for IDEAS xLab's innovation in engaging artists to improve health .

To read the full overview of why Louisville was awarded the Culture of Health Prize click here



Artists as Change Agents for Better Health

 RWJF COH Louisville
August 25-28, 2016

Project H.E.A.L. (Health. Equity. Art. Learning.) 
drum circle in the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville, led by drummer Gregory Acker. In this picture, Cynthia Brown dances to the beat of the group.

"I don’t think art in and of itself can do anything,” says Theo Edmonds, artist and co-founder of IDEAS xLab, an artist innovation company in Louisville, Ky. "But I think artists can change the world.”

More specifically, the former healthcare executive says artists can impact health in surprising ways. He’s found believers across Louisville, from the mayor’s office and local foundations to the area’s healthcare institutions and the University of Louisville. Together, they’re out to do transformative things across the city:

  • A vacant lot in the Smoketown neighborhood will become the venue for a drum circle as part of Project H.E.A.L., a five-year effort that will employ the arts to help residents look for solutions to community health needs.
  • This fall, a former liquor store will become home to the printmaking and bookbinding activities of Steam Exchange, a free after-school arts program.
  • A photovoice exhibit, featuring the photographs and written observations of West Louisville residents, will set the stage for a community meeting to pinpoint ways to start taking action to reduce violence in their neighborhoods, which have among the highest violent crime rates in the city.
  • Roots & Wings, a performing arts group made up of nine young adults of African descent, is addressing community violence, black identity and other topics in neighborhood workshops and main stage performances. They hope to get people talking and thinking about what they can do to level the playing field in Louisville and give everyone a fair shot at success.

In these projects and others, art has become a vehicle for change.

“The power is in the people,” says Hannah Drake, a poet and lead artist for Project H.E.A.L. “But sometimes you have to show people they have the power to change anything they want to.”

Excerpt from Louisville's Culture of Health Prize overview.