Research & Policy Makers

Check out the Curb Center’s most recent research and public policy communications.
Vanderbilt Program in Music, Mind & Society
Building an Evidence Base for Using Music as a Treatment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Rachel Skaggs, Vanderbilt University
Miriam Lense, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Jay Clayton, Vanderbilt University and the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy


This November 2017 policy brief details the current state of research on music-based treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The report finds that public interest in using music-based treatments and therapies to treat children with ASD has outpaced research into the efficacy of such treatments. It recommends continued efforts to build a strong evidence base for when, how, why, and for whom music works as a treatment, and it highlights efforts in that direction by Vanderbilt’s Program in Music, Mind and Society. Read the full article here.

Public Perceptions of Artists in Communities: A Sign of Changing Times
Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts 
Jennifer Novak-Leonard, Northwestern University
Rachel Skaggs, Vanderbilt University

There is a growing recognition within the arts and cultural field that the public roles and work of artists are changing. Artists are increasingly lauded for their work as entrepreneurs, civically-minded problem-solvers, and agents for social change. Amid a shift away from a national arts policy that has largely focused on nonprofit organizations, there is a hypothesis stemming from within the arts and cultural field that a policy focused on artists’ roles in community change, development, and place-making will take hold. Public opinion and perceptions play an important role in the formation of public policies, yet whether and how artists’ roles in public life are perceived beyond the arts and cultural field is unknown. This lack of understanding impedes the ability to monitor if an arts policy paradigm shift is occurring and to develop policies which support artists’ work within and with communities. In this article, the authors developed and pilot tested survey indicators to gauge public perceptions of artists within communities, report on the national pilot test top-line results, and discuss the indicators’ merits to be used over time drawing from the pilot test results. These studies inform public perceptions of artists within communities and can influence policies supporting artists’ work, providing a means to monitor shifts to the larger arts and cultural policy paradigm in the U.S.  Access the full article here.

Making Musical Engagement Accessible and Associated Attitudes Toward Inclusion

Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion 2017 Seed Grant Awards: Miriam Lense, Ph.D.

This grant supports curriculum development and related materials for the SERENADE (Social and Rhythmic Engagement in Autism Spectrum Disorder) Program. The SERENADE Program is a series of inclusive parent-child music classes that use parent training, peer modeling, and behavior therapy techniques to build social and community engagement opportunities for children with autism. This grant additionally supports pilot research into the impact of SERENADE music program participation on awareness of and attitudes toward inclusion practices.

View Adam Savage’s story on the Mobile Maker’s Space that Vanderbilt PhD and former Curb Center HASTAC scholar Gokul Krishnan created during his year at the Curb Center. Gokul gathered support from all over the university for this innovative project, turning his dissertation with Rogers Hall into a resource for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and now for hospitals around the country.

Gokul has continued to work on this project, and this past July received a NSF award for “EAGER: MAKER: Mobile Makerspaces for Children’s Hospital Patients: Exploring Impact on Patients’ Agency, Creative STEM Problem Solving and Physical Well-being”.