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Forty-five minutes is an absurdly short time to reconceptualize the arts infrastructure of the United States, particularly when you didn’t know at the beginning of the day that you would be asked to do it. But that’s what participants in World IA Day 2014 in Washington, DC did on February 15th.

Divided into nine groups, 100 practicing and aspiring information architects absorbed a brief outlining five assets and five constraints to design with. They came back together to present their findings to each other…and to three of the top officials, including the acting commissioner, at the National Endowment for the Arts.

The real-world exercise was developed by UX for Good to give participants in World IA Day a first-hand experience of using their skills to help solve a complex, high stakes social challenge.

“Thanks for one of the most interesting and provocative events of 2014, by far,” wrote NEA Deputy Commissioner Joan Shigekawa. “It sets up a whole different realm of possibility for the agency.”


The groups’ presentations were an illuminating peek into how creative professionals see the country’s arts infrastructure. The biggest takeaway – an underlying premise of every one of the nine presentations – is that the US needs a new platform for uniting Americans around the arts; not a single team made use in their design of the NEA, existing state arts councils, art museums, symphonies or other arts institutions.

Other themes that ran through nearly all, if not all, the presentations were: working artists must be more engaged in preparing the next generation of artists and present funding for the arts should be the seed for dramatically increasing arts funding. The artist cited most frequently in presentations: Beyonce, in a runaway.

Watch the recorded livestream of the presentations from World IA Day 2014 DC.


National Endowment for the Arts
World IA Day 2014
Insight Labs