Animating Democracy February 2008 E-News
Animating Democracy News and Updates

Animating Democracy Partners with Local Arts Agencies on NEA-Supported Arts and Civic Engagement Forums Nationwide
This year, Animating Democracy will offer Arts and Civic Engagement Forums in four communities nationwide supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. The forums will be presented this summer and fall in partnership with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Greater Columbus Arts Council, OH; 40 North/88West, Champaign-Urbana, IL; and Broward County Cultural Division, FL. Designed as practical, skill-building workshops, the forums will bring together local arts organization leaders, artists, and community partners to learn and share concepts, principles, and best practices of arts-based civic engagement and dialogue based on the findings of the Animating Democracy initiative. Each forum is tailored to support goals that the local arts agency has defined to link cultural resources to civic concerns. In addition to the workshop, Animating Democracy will provide on-site consulting to LAA leaders to bolster their planning, as well as provide other services such as presentations to civic leaders and funders that offer national context on civic engagement and the role of the arts.

Through these NEA-supported forums, Animating Democracy and the participating LAAs will consider ways to support and advance arts-based civic engagement work in local communities through organizational policy, funding, resources and information, and other mechanisms; and encourage field discourse about the role of LAAs in civic engagement. For more information about bringing a forum to your community, contact Animating Democracy Project Manager Michael del Vecchio at

Americans for the Arts 2008 Annual Convention, June 19–22: Register Now for the Arts-Based Civic Engagement Advance Workshop
Knowing how to create meaningful civic engagement is becoming a required skill set—as important as fundraising, planning, and marketing. This summer, at the Americans for the Arts 2008 Annual Convention, participants will have the opportunity to build their “civic engagement muscle” at an interactive advance workshop—featuring key concepts, principles, and practices of arts-based civic engagement as demonstrated via project examples, video, and lively exchange. Participants will learn how to maximize engagement opportunities through program design and community partnerships, as well as how to facilitate meaningful civic dialogue opportunities. This workshop will be presented by Animating Democracy staff members Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza, along with artist Sandy Agustín, former artistic director of Intermedia Arts, and current artistic director of Neighborhood House, a social service agency in Minneapolis. The workshop will also provide the opportunity to share projects in progress, or that have potential in their communities, as well as to troubleshoot planning and project roadblocks with colleagues.

Registration for the workshop is $125 for Americans for the Arts members, $150 for nonmembers. For further information about other advance workshops being offered, registration deadlines, and the full civic engagement track, visit the convention website.


News from the Field

Everyday Democracy Names Programs for National Race Initiative
Everyday Democracy (the new name of the Study Circles Resource Center) has announced that it has selected eight community programs to take part in a national initiative aimed at helping communities create and sustain public engagement and community change on issues around racial equity. The eight selected communities include: Stratford, CT; Syracuse, NY; Montgomery County Public Schools, MD; Lynchburg, VA; Burlington, VT; Jacksonville, FL; Sacramento, CA; and New Haven, CT. The eight programs will work in their communities to reduce persistent inequality among racial and ethnic groups that show up in areas including education, housing, health care, the justice system, immigration, and jobs. Learn more about the initiative at


Articles and Publications

New Report: Engaging Park Visitors and Communities Through Art
The National Park Service (NPS) has released Art & Community Landscapes, its first report on a series of public art projects that engage communities and national park visitors in addressing their personal relationship to the environment. A partnership between the New England Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the NPS, Art & Community Landscapes supported site-based public art as a catalyst for increased environmental awareness and stewardship through site-specific art projects. The report features short profiles of funded projects including full color photos.

The Race Doctor launches Talking Across Party Lines
Frustrated by an increasing lack of dialogue between political parties about how citizens participate in American democracy, the Race Doctor David Campt has launched—a new website which aims to encourage Americans to have honest, authentic, and non-combative dialogue about social and political issues that affect people individually and collectively, in light of the 2008 elections. The centerpiece of the website is a 3-minute anonymous survey which encourages visitors to reflect on the ways that political preferences might run counter to their ideological values. Visitors to the website can take the survey, view results, and discuss their personal perspective and reflections in an online forum. A dialogue guide will soon be added to encourage participants to have further dialogue with colleagues and friends about their perspective.

David Campt was a dialogue trainer and advisor to Animating Democracy projects dealing with issues of race and marginalization.  More information about his work can be found by visiting his website,

Events on the Horizon

Maryland Institute College of Art: Community Arts Convening
Dates: March 16–18, 2007
Baltimore, MD
The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) announces a national convening & research project to advance the field of community arts. Funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the gathering will be held on MICA’s campus in Baltimore, MD and will provide a platform for college and university faculty and students as well as community-based practitioners to meet and generate new ideas, share resources and models for best practices in the field, define and solve problems, identify and conduct new research, develop leadership in the field, and cultivate new partnerships. Registration forms are now available on the MICA website. The registration deadline is March 4, 2008.

Intersection V: Creative UpRising(s)
Dates: April 4-6, 2008
Amherst, MA
Intersection is New WORLD Theater’s (NWT) biennial conference and festival examining new work practices by artists of color and showcasing multidisciplinary theater pieces on the cutting edge of new aesthetics. This year's theme, Creative UpRising(s), takes a global look at the pervasiveness of art and activism, emerging aesthetics, and the role of performance practices in cultural organizing. Panels, case studies, and dialogues will explore topics such as transnational aesthetics & organizing; hip-hop theater at the intersection of indigenous, hybrid, and global identities; the role of artists in mass mobilization; arts-based economic development; and creative responses to national & international crisis. A special pre-conference opportunity, The Rise of an Arab-American Cultural Movement, will gather Arab-American artists, cultural leaders, organizers, and allies to explore the aesthetics, approaches, and impact of this growing movement. For more information, contact New WORLD Theater at 413.545.1972.

Destination Dance Exchange: Summer Institutes
Takoma Park, MD
This summer, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will present three institutes, with a choice of two tracks each, at its studios in Takoma Park, MD and in DC-area sites. The institutes will offer a wide range of movement experiences and performance opportunities for new movers, established dancers, choreographers, and video artists; and will share the body of knowledge gained from the organization’s 30-year history, including discoveries from such current projects as Ferocious Beauty: Genome, The Farthest Earth from Thee, and 613 Radical Acts of Prayer.

Teen Institute: Move It: Mean It, A Digital Dance Intensive
Dates: July 7–11, 2008 (Movement Intensive); July 5–11, 2008 (Digital Art Intensive)
Through YouTube, iPods, and HDTV, digital media offers new platforms for dance. Digital technologies are redefining choreography and revolutionizing how we think about where “final” performances can happen. Through the Movement Intensive, students can develop and deepen their physical capability and personal creativity through daily dance technique and composition classes to create a new dance for video. Or, through the Digital Art Intensive, students will hone their shooting and editing skills, collaborating with performing artists to create a new dance for video. This institute culminates in a public screening, an online webcast, and a take-home DVD.

All Abilities Movement Institute
Dates: July 13–17, 2008 (Dancing Human); July 13–17, 2008 (Beyond the Studio Walls)

Crafting Dances Institute
Dates: July 18–27, 2008 (Dance Exchange Immersion); July 18–27, 2008 (New Tools: Your Dance)

For more information about these Institutes contact Dance Exchange by calling 301.270.6700, x 24.

Cornerstone Institute Summer Residency
Dates: July 10–August 10, 2008
Piru, CA
The Cornerstone Institute Summer Residency offers an intense, hands-on collaborative experience creating theater and exploring strategies for community engagement while living with and within a small, diverse community. Participants learn both through classroom training and hands-on creation of a community-specific production. This summer, Cornerstone’s fifth Institute Summer Residency will take place in Piru, a small town of 1,200 in Ventura County, CA. Over the four-week institute, institute participants will take up residence in Piru to put on a play with, about, and for the residents of this unique community, written by Cornerstone Ensemble member Page Leong and directed by Artistic Director Michael John Garcés. Application deadline for the institute is March 15, 2008.

Sojourn Theatre One Week Summer Institute:
Devising Civic Theatre: Performance, Social Practice & Dialogue

Dates: July 27–August 2, 2008
Portland, OR
Now in its ninth summer, this 6-day workshop/training offers participants an opportunity to explore the techniques & strategies Sojourn Theatre artistic director Michael Rohd uses in collaborative work with groups in a variety of settings to devise performance material, build community, examine the potential of site-specific activity, and explore social & political issues through collaborative conceptual, improvisational, and physical investigations. This year’s summer institute happens alongside Sojourn’s research and rehearsal for their summer site-specific production, BUILT, exploring the changing U.S. city and the challenges and opportunities that infrastructure, sustainability, and equity all present as population size dramatically increases. For more information or to register, contact Sojourn Theatre at


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