The Center conducts research consistent with its mission of developing a greater understanding of policy issues that were at the core of John Brademas' public life and of Congress. Research focuses not only on examining the rules and procedures of Congress but also on the ways in which the Senate and House of Representatives help determine the substance of law and policy for the Government of the United States—through their leaders, committees, caucuses, conferences, staffs and individual members, and through the interaction of Congress with the executive and judicial branches. Projects commissioned by the Center also examine policy implications on public life, and how legislation can expand or better its effects.

In the midst of a devastating pandemic, as theaters, art galleries and museums, dance stages and concert halls shuttered their doors indefinitely and institutional funding for entertainment and culture evaporated almost overnight, a cohort of highly acclaimed scholars, artists, cultural critics, and a journalist sat down to ponder an urgent question: Are the Arts Essential?

With funding from the Mellon Foundation and led by researchers from the Social Impact of the Arts Project at the University of Pennsylvania and cultural practitioners at the Brademas Center, Staging Change explored the geography of participation in a cohort of arts and cultural organizations in California. This cohort was supported by the James Irvine Foundation from 2013-2020 through its New California Arts Fund (NCAF) initiative. The Brademas Center’s research was designed to understand the relationship between arts engagement and social wellbeing and neighborhood vitality in those communities where NCAF members were located. The project examined the relationship of arts participation in urban California to social class, race, and ethnicity and compared overall nonprofit participation patterns to that of NCAF institutions. It then assessed the relationship between cultural assets in neighborhoods to several dimensions of social wellbeing. Finally, the research team interviewed NCAF grantees and their community partners to assess how recent history, including the pandemic and 2020 social movements for racial justice, affected NCAF institutions' community work. 

The John Brademas Center lead a conversation over the course of 2022 on the value of civility in politics and the public square. The Center convened thought leaders, scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to address the question:  What do we mean by “civility?”  

The project examined political processes, institutions, and systems. It explored values and norms, how they inform each other, and how they evolve or break down over time. It addressed what happens when participants in the system no longer accept the “rules of the game,” and the legitimacy of the opposition.