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

Americans for the Arts Releases Arts Funding Response and Readiness Kit Online
Whether funding is being cut, the arts are being stripped from schools, or a public art controversy arises, arts and culture organizations need to be able to take swift and efficient action. Americans for the Arts has developed a free online tool kit with information on mobilizing advocates, crafting the message, implementing strategy, and beyond, to help arts organizations respond effectively in times of crisis. The Arts Funding Response and Readiness Kit provides key messaging, communications advocacy strategies, research, examples of how other communities have managed similar situations, and more.

In addition to the tool kit, Americans for the Arts’ Research Department has compiled and posted Creative Industries reports online for every State House and State Senate District in the country—7,386 altogether—to help arts and cultural professionals make the case to state and local officials. Each report provides a color map of the legislative district and statistics about the number of nonprofit and for-profit arts businesses and number of people they employ. Visitors to the website can also listen to regular podcasts from President and CEO Robert Lynch, in which he discusses key issues and trends.

Animating Democracy is eager to understand how communities are grappling with specific challenges in planning or implementing civic engagement strategies. If you’re interested in connecting with a member of the Animating Democracy team, contact Animating Democracy Project Manager Michael del Vecchio at or 202.371.2830.

NEW RESOURCE: The Arts and Civic Engagement Tool Kit
Check out a sample worksheet from the Tool Kit!
Animating Democracy is pleased to announce the release of a new field resource: The Arts and Civic Engagement Tool Kit: Planning Tools and Resources for Animating Democracy in Your Community. The CD features customizable worksheets containing thoughtful questions, clarifying sidebars, and examples to help users plan, design, and collaborate to create meaningful engagement activities. Resources on the CD include:

  • A context for understanding the possibilities at the intersection of art and civic life;
  • Definitions of common terms and diagrams to situate arts-based civic engagement work in a broader context of arts and community engagement;
  • Imagine, Define, Design—a series of worksheets designed to help users define a project’s core artistic elements and civic or social concern;
  • Worksheets on forging effective partnerships;
  • A framework to create meaningful dialogue at arts events; and
  • A compilation of civic engagement resources including organizations, websites, and publications.

Through December 31, 2008, order both a copy of the Arts and Civic Engagement Tool Kit and a copy of Civic Dialogue, Arts and Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy together, and receive 15 percent off your complete order. To order a copy of this extraordinary resource, contact the Americans for the Arts Store at 800.321.4510.

New: View a sample worksheet from the Tool Kit! Check out the What Makes Partnerships Work resource! This worksheet is designed to help partners successfully plan and define expectations for an arts and civic collaboration

Join Americans for the Arts Today!
Americans for the Arts is the leading national organization dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Join today and receive direct access to tools to help you work toward your community’s goals. Members receive discounts on items in the Americans for the Arts Store, including Animating Democracy publications and resources; the print quarterly newsletter, Arts Link, which provides valuable research and information on the state of the arts field; access to more than 15 listservs covering a wide variety of topics, including public art, emerging leaders, and community development; and reduced registration fees to online professional development opportunities like Knowledge Exchanges and the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention.

For more information on professional membership at Americans for the Arts, contact or call 202.371.2830.

News from the Field

AmericaSpeaks releases Agenda for Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy
A new agenda to strengthen America’s democracy is being advanced to the incoming administration. The Agenda for Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy is the result of a collaborative effort led by AmericaSpeaks, Everday Democracy, Demos: A Network for Ideas, and a diverse group of 49 thinkers, advocates, and academics. In the agenda, you’ll find an exciting set of recommendations including a White House Office of Civic Engagement, a call for regular national discussions, and a unique set of policy reforms to increase participation in public life. Individuals and organizations are invited to endorse the agenda, as well as submit their own ideas for improving the agenda, through the AmericaSpeaks website.

New on ITVS: The Masculinity Project
Prompted by the question, “What does it mean to be a black man in America today?” The Masculinity Project: Black Community in Focus is an interactive multimedia and virtual community engagement project that focuses on the broader issues facing the African-American community in the 21st century. Through an online website featuring video shorts, online forums, and an educational tool kit; the project offers visitors the opportunity to interact with other members of the community, read articles and blogs, create and upload their own media, and take action on various items that relate to the lives of African American males. The Masculinity Project: Black Community in Focus is a collaboration between the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and the National Black Programming Consortium.


Articles and Publications

Wild Caught Stories Launches Yearlong Online Conversation Among Community Builders
New from the Center for the Study of Art and Community, Wild Caught Stories features six creative community builders who will share their differing perspectives on culture, community, and current affairs. Styled as a conversation among participants—including William Cleveland, Maryo Ewell, Puanani Burgess, Milenko Matanovic, Martin Tull, and Alice Lovelace—each blog begins with a question posed by the first participant, and one after another, members write in response both to the current question and their thoughts on the ongoing discussion. Volume 1 is currently online with entries from Bill Cleveland and Maryo Ewell. Readers are encouraged to submit their own thoughts and comments to the blogs.


Events on the Horizon

Call for Proposals: Network for Peace through Dialogue Conference
Dates: June 12–13, 2009
New York City
Exploring the theme Dialogue In/As Action, the 2009 Network for Peace through Dialogue will focus on the methods, processes, and actions of dialogue that lead to change. Sessions will explore the ground rules for practicing good dialogue, as well as the parameters for putting constructive dialogue into action.

Network for Peace through Dialogue has issued a call for proposals for the conference and invites community groups, researchers, teachers, students, and others to submit proposals for review. Sessions should explore the types of change that can be generated through dialogue, the preconditions of dialogue, and cases of dialogue in and as action (among other topics). Proposals may be submitted using the online form and must be submitted by January 8, 2009.

Call for Proposals: Convergence: The Intersection of Arts and Activism
Dates: April 3–5, 2009
Somerville, MA
Cosponsored by the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University and Massachusetts Compact, Convergence: The Intersection of Arts and Activism will bring together students, faculty, administrators, and working artists to collaborate and focus on ways to learn, inspire, and take action. Conference activities will include featured speakers, panel discussions, workshops, performances, gallery shows, and a community arts project.

Conference organizers have issued a call for proposals for workshop sessions and panel discussions. Proposed sessions should focus on: working successfully with community organizations; the history, ethics, development, or funding of arts and activism; creating a body of work focused on activism; and courses being taught that combine arts, activism, and community. Proposals are due January 20, 2009.

With support from the
Ford Foundation
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