The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists, and the Future by Arlene Goldbard

A Review


  • Stephani Etheridge Woodson Arizona State University


The thoughtful work of cultural activist Arlene Goldbard has been foundational to many community cultural development artists and public scholars. Her latest text, The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & the Future, builds off her previous work with the ambitious goal to “reframe public interest in art and culture.” As she writes in her introduction: “the book incorporates arguments, stories, and perspectives I have evolved from years of writing and speaking on the subject, as well as considerable new material.” Goldbard's bold experimentation with structure continues to be one of her assets as a writer and public intellectual. The Culture of Possibility contains three distinct sections—as well as a companion work of fiction, The Wave— each framing her argument and information in particular ways. The first section of the book, helpfully called “Read this First,” serves as a brief introduction to the text while establishing Goldbard's terms and lenses. The second and longest section, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Twenty- Eight Reasons to Pursue the Public Interest in Art,” provides exactly that in short, digestible and interrelated chunks. Her last section, “The World is Upside Down” presents much of the same information while grounding her argument in a more traditional essay format. The text as a whole pulls from a broad range of Western philosophy and cultural traditions weaving storytelling with economic analysis, spiritual traditions, poetry and neuroscience.

Author Biography

Stephani Etheridge Woodson, Arizona State University

Stephani Etheridge Woodson is a professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre at ASU where she specializes in community cultural development and community engaged practices. She serves as director of the Herberger Institute's Design and Arts Corps, an initiative to partner all Herberger Institute students with community. Her research and creative interests focus on theatre and performance with, by and for children and youth; representational ethics; arts in wellness practices; and the group creation and performance of original work. She also directs the MFA and PhD programs in Theatre for Youth, one of the oldest programs in the Herberger Institute, dating back to ASU's past as a Normal School. She is a founding member of CENAS (Cultural Engagements in Nutrition, Arts and Sciences), a transdisciplinary working group of scholars and artists who develop, implement and evaluate innovative approaches to community and individual wellness, with arts practices at its center.

The Culture of Possibility




How to Cite

Etheridge Woodson, S. (2013). The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists, and the Future by Arlene Goldbard: A Review. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 2(1), 40–42. Retrieved from