Art-based research dissemination is a revolutionary concept that has not yet developed in the U.S. in the ways that it has in other places around the world. The people and the government invest billions in research, translation, and dissemination. One of the core goals of the research is for it to connect to people, families, and communities. However, this process is slow and ineffective. Communication is largely inefficient and unimaginative between fields and especially between academia and the public. We publish our findings in top-tier journals that the average person will never read. In fact, we measure our success by our capacity to publish in the most exclusive journals and how widely we reach other scientists -but not the communities that we intend to serve. Certainly, the families that are most devasted by health disparities and public health crises do not have the resources to pay for subscriptions and the huge of time it would take to decode the jargon and scientific language. This gap between science and the community is more wider when studying underserved and minoritized youth. Translation science is the idea of taking a research study and converting it into a product that can improve public health. It takes ages for a body of literature to be transformed into a program or intervention, and in order for it to be effective, adequate engagement is essential. However, because youth are largely left out of the process, and there is poor communication with them, we cannot anticipate that they will enthusiastically or meaningfully engage with the process.
What do we know about youth? They are brilliant and learn in diverse ways. They communicate but in very different ways than other generations. They can focus on things that interest them. They love art, creativity, and expression. This is a great recipe for effective communication and education. But the scientific community cannot embrace the same exclusive and culturally homogenous dissemination tactics.
Art is a great connector and communicator. Art-based dissemination may leverage theater, dance, drawing, images, video, poetry, narrative, installations, and photo elicitation. For decades, scientists have effectively converted data and research findings into artistic and creative pieces to disseminate the science to a specific community. This basic commonsense approach is innovative, especially in the context of distrust, health disparities, and hard-to-reach populations. In the next few decades, scholar-artist hybrids will be extraordinarily important in further developing the science of art-based dissemination in the U.S.
I plan to create 30 plays/performance pieces over the next five years that pilot art-based dissemination among underserved and minoritized populations. This effort will require partnerships with institutions that serve these populations. If you are interested in funding or supporting this initiative, please contact: DoctorMicahJohnson@gmail.com