Get your hopes up:
change the story to change the world.

Life through a cultural lens, viewed from the intersection of art, spirituality, and politics. Read Arlene’s books, essays, articles and blogs.
Words that are “stirring, informative, passionate, smart.” “A true leader…with a generous presence and intelligent voice.” Sample talks, media, and workshops.
Dare to see your project as a work of art. Make planning an adventure in group imagination. Learn about a culture of possibility for an organization that shines.
Chief Policy Wonk Emeritus of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, Former President of the Shalom Center. Strategic thinking in the service of justice and love. Learn more →

Self-portrait with Hair on Fire 2019
(oil on panel, 24″x24″)



In 2018 I began painting and drawing again after a hiatus of more than two decades. I knew from earliest childhood that I was an artist, and until I was 30 or so, I made my living painting and doing illustration and graphic design. The reasons I stopped were more political than personal. You can read all about them in “What Was I Thinking?“—an essay I published in January 2019. See my recent portraits here.


Arlene Goldbard is benevolent magician, a potent weaver of spells. Her Jewish Artists Retreat was meaningful, powerful and transformative. Working with Arlene left me with a deep sense of clarity about myself, about my work, and about the passion that sustains both.

— Joseph Skibell, author of A Blessing on the Moon and A Curable Romantic

The Jewish Artists Retreat is an immersive, invigorating, uplifting multi-day experience open to any artist—visual, performing, literary, multimedia, or your own definition—who identifies as Jewish, regardless of personal spiritual practice or level of Jewish knowledge. The approach is pleasure and purpose aligned: fun, stimulating, mind-opening, and meaningful at once. Each retreat features discussion and dialogue; lively, interactive group study; hands-on art-making; opportunities to connect and collaborate; and deep exploration of participants’ concerns and aspirations. The retreat is an opportunity to discard constricting ideas about art, Judaism, or oneself, to emerge with greater clarity about aims, intentions, and identity. For more information–>.

Arlene’s Latest Books

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The Culture of Possibility:
Art, Artists & The Future

“By showing us that culture is the crucible in which we forge our laws and our government as well as our values and families, Arlene Goldbard restores our power as individuals and creative communities. This book encourages us to take back our power through creativity.”
—Gloria Steinem
Learn More

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The Wave

“If we’re going to end this fiscal madness and start rebuilding America, we’re going to have to get creative! We need a tsunami of music, film, poetry and art. The Wave is about changing the story to change the world. Buy it, read it, share it!”
—Van Jones
Rebuild The Dream
Learn More

Worth Exploring:

barrys blog
Read Part 1 of and part 2 of a great interview by Barry Hessenius: “I loved both of these books and I strongly urge everyone who cares not just about the arts and culture, but the future of our country, to buy them and read them, and better yet, give them as gifts to people they know.”

Honored as 2019 recipient of the Randy Martin Spirit Award from Imagining America.

Honored as one of the 2016 YBCA 100. See the YBCA 100 List→

Honored as 2015 Purpose Prize Fellow, Recognizing Social Innovators Over 60.

In recognition of her work as Chief Policy Wonk for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.