A crowded seated reception

Arts & Human Development Task Force

From 2011 to 2023, the National Endowment for the Arts convened a Federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development to encourage more and better research on how the arts can help people reach their full potential at all stages of life. Task force members represented multiple units across federal government, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education, among others.

The Task Force met quarterly to share ideas and information about research gaps and opportunities for understanding the arts' role in improving health and educational outcomes throughout the lifespan. The Task Force conducted a series of public webinars on compelling research and practices.  Additionally, the group collaborated on reports, research announcements, and convenings about the arts and human development. Task Force Members


Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Participate in the Arts
This report describes arts participation patterns of older adults (aged 55 and over) tracked by the 2014 Health and Retirement Study. The nationally representative sample is also analyzed for its attitudes toward the arts. Central to the report, however, is an examination of the health characteristics (cognitive ability, physical function, and hypertension rates) among adults who created art, who attended arts events, or who did both or did neither.

The National Endowment for the Arts Guide to Community-Engaged Research in the Arts and Health
Responding to a need identified by the federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, the NEA commissioned this guide from the cognitive neuroscientist Julene Johnson, PhD, UCSF.


Dr. Nina Kraus
Dr. Nina Kraus is a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University where she directs the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, also known as Brainvolts. She has made the study of how we biologically process sound her life’s work.
July 18, 2019

Akua Kouyate-Tate
Akua Kouyate-Tate is the Senior Director of Education at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.  Wolf Trap is integrating art with fundamental science and math learning for young children and the data show significant results.
March 10, 2016


The Office of Research & Analysis holds national gatherings with researchers and arts and community experts on the value and impact of the arts in all domains of American life, including health and well-being, community livability, and economic prosperity.


Additional Resources

Additional research products and information sources linked to Task Force activities.