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

Americans for the Arts 2008 Annual Convention, June 19–22: Civic Engagement Track: Follow-Up and Call for Proposals for 2009
Americans for the Arts revisited history and created pathways to the future during the 2008 Annual Convention, American Evolution: Arts in the New Civic Life. Thanks to all who helped make the Civic Engagement Track and the Annual Convention such a success!

Americans for the Arts is currently accepting proposals for sessions at the 2009 Annual Convention, Renewable Resources: The Arts in Sustainable Communities, June 17–20, 2009 in Seattle. Next year’s Civic Engagement Track will showcase the many ways the arts are shining a light on important environmental issues, advancing education, and catalyzing action. Animating Democracy is especially interested in case-based sessions highlighting innovative arts-based community engagement practice, dialogue- and engagement-based skill building workshops for artists and arts and cultural administrators, sessions that incorporate the arts toward strengthening participation in the 2008 election, and sessions that showcase the role of the arts in environmental and community sustainability.

Proposals can be submitted online through the Americans for the Arts website. The deadline for proposals is August 1, 2008. If you’ve got an idea and would like to talk with a staff member, feel free to e-mail Animating Democracy Project Manager Michael del Vecchio at

News from the Field

Missouri Billboard Project launches Art the Vote
In early 2008, a small group of Missouri artists and arts supporters interested in making a difference in the November election initiated Art the Vote—a new nonpartisan effort led by the Missouri Billboard Project designed to engage, register, and mobilize young voters and the creative community in the political process leading up to November. Art the Vote will feature the launch of more than 70 billboards on highways and in cities including St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield (among others), featuring the artwork of seven billboard artists including Tom Huck, Peregrine Honig, May Tveit, Martha Roster, Mark Newport, Annette Lemieux, and Willie Cole—plus an eighth artist, the winner of the Art the Vote billboard contest. Billboards will be revealed on September 8.

Animating Democracy is interested in the efforts of local arts agencies and other community organizations working to engage communities and strengthen civic participation toward local and national elections in November for inclusion in the National Arts Policy Database. E-mail Animating Democracy Project Manager Michael del Vecchio at with details about projects in progress.

Los Angeles Poverty Department presents Skid Row History Museum
Through August 2, Los Angeles Poverty Department, in collaboration with The Box Gallery, will present the Skid Row History Museum, a temporary exhibition exploring the history of Los Angeles’ Skid Row through the stories of those who live, work, and inspire others in the community. The exhibition features a map of Skid Row on the floor of the front gallery,which  marks significant sites where these stories have unfolded, and images and videos highlighting the community’s efforts and strides. Public programs planned with the installation include public conversations, workshops, and performances. Ultimately, project planners envision a series of permanent public artworks (including plaques, signs, etc) installed in the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange seeks Operations Manager
Based in Takoma Park, MD, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange is seeking an operations manager to be responsible for daily administrative operations, facility and vendor management, light bookkeeping, education project resource coordination and registration, benefits coordination, and other administrative support. For more information about this position or to apply, contact Managing Director Jane Hirshberg at

The Future Is on the Table in Charleston
In 2003, community artists Jean-Marie Mauclet and Gwylene Gallimard sent 56 handmade three-legged stools as gifts to artists around the world, as a proposal to use the arts to generate conversation about globalization and social justice issues. Artists, artisans, and arts collaboratives who agreed to participate were challenged to create an object, installation, performance, or other project in response to the worldwide issues. Thus, artist residencies, workshops, gift exchanges, and other events took place in England, France, India, South Africa, and the United States.

Beginning September 12, the stools and resulting projects will come to Charleston, SC, to be presented as a means to create community dialogue in The Future is on the Table. A multitude of special events—including multidisciplinary performances and dialogue—are planned through September and October.

The Last Conquistador appears on P.O.V
In 1997, the city of El Paso commissioned John Sherill Houser to create a larger-than-life statue of the Spanish Conquistador Juan de Oñate to memorialize the region’s history and serve as a tribute to the contributions of Hispanic culture and history to the United States. But, as recounted in a new documentary—The Last Conquistador, airing this month on PBS on the independent documentary series P.O.V.—the statue’s dedication brought protest and activism within the region and served as a platform for discussion on identity, perception, and cultural ancestry among its citizens. As the dedication drew nearer, many Native Americans were deeply offended by the commission: to them, Oñate is remembered as a leader in massacre, slavery, and terror—and the man responsible for the deaths of two out of every three Native Americans in the region. Others, who can trace their ancestry back Oñate’s expedition, welcomed the monument. Through The Last Conquistador, filmmakers tell the story of the development of the monument, the perspective of city officials, the public response and resulting dialogue, the 2007 dedication, and the artist’s response in the form of a second artwork in development for the city.

Articles and Publications

New online resource: Democracy Communications Network
Changes occur in democracy—and often, these developments, where citizens play a more central role in decision-making and problem-solving, happen under the radar of national news services. Toward raising visibility, national dialogue organizations—including AmericaSpeaks, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, Everyday Democracy, the Kettering Foundation, the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), and Public Agenda (among others)—are collaborating to launch the Democracy Communications Network, an online resource network designed to highlight and draw attention to instances of local democracy in action. The Deliberative Democracy Consortium will work to coordinate PR efforts in response to current events, develop simple and compelling language to describe public engagement, develop tools (and make them widely available) for working with news sources, and track writings for op-eds and blog. (Thanks, NCDD).

Art and Upheaval released from New Village Press
Over a period of eight years, Director of the Center for Art and Community Bill Cleveland travelled the globe gathering stories about artists working in communities facing political, social, and environmental upheaval. Art and Upheaval: Artists on the World’s Frontlines is a collection of narratives from these travels which brings to life the struggles and triumphs of art makers from around the world who are helping to re-imagine and rebuild devastated communities.

This month, Craig Zelizer, a member of the Conflict Resolution program at Georgetown University, reviews the publication on the Community Arts Network. He describes the book as "an inspiring collection of powerful narratives about the work of community-based artists resisting oppressive regimes, building community in divided societies, challenging economic and racial discrimination, and rescuing culture on the verge of extinction." Read the full review online at:

Events on the Horizon

The Alternate ROOTS 32nd Annual Meeting: Remembrance, [R]evolution, [Re]envisioning
Dates: August 5–10, 2008
Arden, NC
For more than 30 years, Alternate ROOTS has sustained a sphere of support for artists working at the intersection of art and activism. The 32nd Annual Meeting: Remembrance, [R]evolution, [Re]envisioning invites artists, cultural workers, educators, art supporters, and activists/organizers to participate in the six-day convening at the Lutheridge Conference Center in Arden, NC. Participants will witness work and performance from a variety of Alternate ROOTS members and attendees, experience an offering of studios in multiple disciplines, hear about and contribute to Alternate ROOTS' new strategic plan, and honor the passage of two longtime members: Ronnog Seaberg and Nayo Watkins.

With support from the
Ford Foundation
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