IDEAS xLab
Leveraging the power of arts, culture, and the creative industries to frame, seed, and scale innovation in health and wellbeing.
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Our work: HEAL Community Approach

Our vision - a creative society where everyone has a fair chance to become their best self.

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Mission: Leverage the power of community creativity and culture to transform people’s lives.

Vision: A healthy, just, and hopeful society.

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We’ve seen how hope - Goals, Pathways, and Agency - can be transformational! And from the science, we know hope is a leading indicator of health and wellbeing. (Learn more about Hope Theory)

That is why hope is a core element of our work at IDEAS xLab - where our artist-led team focuses on leveraging the power of community creativity and culture to transform people's lives through art in support of a more healthy, just, and hopeful society.

You can imagine our engagement with communities like a transportation roundabout. We know each community is in a unique place in their health journey. As a facilitator, capacity builder, and strategic partner, IDEAS xLab can enter at different points along the route to support them through our HEAL Community Approach, using arts and culture interventions to identify priorities and goals for the future, and an action plan for positive change.

A process evaluation by University of Louisville’s Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky outlined that our HEAL Community Approached supported:
•       Collective Identity Development
•       Capacity building
•       Sense of community
•       Community engagement (reduced social isolation)
•       Cultivation of Hope

Through artist-led after school programming, students had a demonstrated change from 6.3 to 9 on a 10-point scale in their ability to advocate for themselves and for others after their first year of the Justice League.

IDEAS xLab's HEAL Community Approach leverages:

  • Arts-based Tools: Storytelling, trust building, qualitative data collection using tools including Mads Libs style poetry templates, mobile apps (video, photo) and arts-based interventions,

  • Cultural Development and Strategic Cultural Communications including: Priority and Opportunity identification, Cross-sector network building, Setting goals, identifying pathways for change, activating community agency, translating across sectors,

  • Science: Measuring positive impact on collective hope/belonging through our HEAL Community Approach + Supporting community identified outcomes.


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Through the HEAL Community Approach in Louisville, KY’s Smoketown neighborhood, we deployed a series of arts and culture-based activities and tools, which led to the creation of the Smoketown HOPEBOX - based on the priorities identified by the community. These included a laundromat and incubator for employee-owned co-ops, along with community gathering space, and a Compassion Clinic – all made possible by multi-sector partnerships and continued leadership by the community.