October 2009
Animating Democracy News and Updates

Welcome Joanna Chin!

We are ecstatic to welcome Joanna Chin to the Animating Democracy team as the new program coordinator!

Joanna comes to Americans for the Arts with a diverse professional background. Her experiences range from work in government and community relations for Stanford University, to political science research on state sovereignty, to gallery preparation and client relations at Galerie Maeght in Paris. Joanna graduated with honors from Stanford University, receiving a B.A. in international relations and a minor in studio art. Her award-winning thesis, “Embodying and Inspiring Change: The Common Threads of Art, Quilting, and Memorialization in the AIDS Memorial Quilt,” explores the dynamic role of the NAMES Project Foundation Quilt as a memorial, piece of art, and reflection of the changing HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. In her free time, Joanna enjoys playing the piano and French horn, cooking, horseback riding, traveling, painting, and photography.

Joanna has hit the ground running. She is excited about furthering the great work that came before her, as well as the opportunity to start connecting with the pioneering groups and artists at the heart of the Animating Democracy community. She encourages anyone to contact her with thoughts about the Animating Democracy program, the role of arts-based civic engagement in communities, or just to say hello. If you want to submit an item for the Animating Democracy e-news, just add jchin@artsusa.org to your mailing list.

Arts & Social Change Mapping Initiative

With support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and CrossCurrents Foundation, Animating Democracy has launched the Arts & Social Change Mapping Initiative to map and highlight the spectrum of ways the arts are being activated to engage and make change. The initiative aims to enhance understanding of: 1) the growing spectrum of arts activity that fosters civic engagement and social change; 2) the expanding circle of artists and arts organizations actively pursuing this work; and 3) the funders who support such work. A current portrait of funding support available from a range of arts, social change, and other funders and a centralized online resource will make this important work visible and serve to link change agents, artists, funders, and an interested public.

Philanthropists Tune in to Arts and Civic Engagement PACE

Animating Democracy collaborated with Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) to present a webinar for PACE’s network and members. The webinar shared highlights and recommendations from the 2008 National Arts Policy Roundtable, The Arts & Civic Engagement: Strengthening the 21st Century Community. More than 40 funders and field leaders participated. President and CEO of Americans for the Arts Robert L. Lynch; Knight Foundation Program Officer Susan Patterson; and Roundtable Chairperson and Senior Director of Culture Initiatives of the Pew Charitable Trusts Marian Godfrey presented along with Animating Democracy Co-Director Pam Korza.

New Animating Democracy Case Study on Rha Goddess’s Hip Hop Mental Health Project

Animating Democracy announces a new case study, “Moments of Transformation: Rha Goddess’s LOW and Understanding Social Change,” by Suzanne Callahan of Callahan Consulting for the Arts and contributing writers Jane Jerardi and Caitlin Servilio, which can now be found on the Animating Democracy website. Artist Rha Goddess’s Hip Hop Mental Health Project (HHMHP) seeks to contribute to shifting the cultural paradigm of shame and alienation surrounding mental health patients, and providing a safe place to confront and educate about the issue. As a product of Animating Democracy’s Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, the case study offers a comparison of research processes used in two complementary studies. Goddess and evaluator Callahan focused on understanding the impact of the one-woman performance, LOW, and post-performance dialogue on audiences’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about mental health and illness.

Animating Democracy on the Road

Animating Democracy was on the road in September presenting arts and civic engagement in South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

  • The South Carolina Arts Commission featured three workshops at its biannual statewide conference. Philadelphia-based theater artist David Bradley co-presented with Animating Democracy Co-Director Barbara Schaffer Bacon. Bradley is also artistic director of the National Constitution Center’s Living News and a theater artist, arts educator, and consultant.
  • In Austin, the Cultural Affairs Division of the City of Austin sponsored a full-day workshop for artists and community and cultural leaders. Theater artist Lynn Hoar of the University of Texas at Austin co-presented with Schaffer Bacon. Lynn is a theater for dialogue specialist. She leads Voices Against Violence at the Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • The Cultural Alliance of Hampton Roads in Virginia sponsored a breakfast talk by Schaffer Bacon to kick off National Arts and Humanities Month.
News from the Field

The Laramie Project, Ten Years Later: An Epilogue

On October 12, the Tectonic Theatre Project premiered The Laramie Project, Ten Years Later: An Epilogue. The epilogue looked at what has and has not changed in the town of Laramie since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, as well as how personal and collective narratives are constructed. The premiere took the form of simultaneous staged readings at more than 100 theaters nationwide and the launch of an online interactive community. 

Articles and Publications

Civic Engagement in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
Edited by Amy Koritz and George J. Sanchez

Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina is a collection of essays that documents the ways in which educational institutions and the arts community responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. While firmly rooted in concrete projects, Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina also addresses the larger issues raised by committed public scholarship. How can higher education institutions engage with their surrounding communities? What are the pros and cons of "asset-based" and "outreach" models of civic engagement? Is it appropriate for the private sector to play a direct role in promoting civic engagement? How does public scholarship impact traditional standards of academic evaluation? Throughout the volume, this diverse collection of essays paints a remarkably consistent and persuasive account of arts-based initiatives' ability to foster social and civic renewal.

The America Project: A Teaching Method for Collaboration, Creativity, and Citizenship
Developed by Sekou Sundiata

The America Project: A Teaching Method for Collaboration, Creativity and Citizenship, written by Kym Ragusa, is a guide to arts-based and artist-driven public exploration of the meaning of engaged citizenship. The publication documents The America Project course developed and taught by Sekou Sundiata, a course that combined intellectual inquiry with practical experience in the research and creation of new artistic work. A Teaching Method references syllabi, readings, discussions, projects, and papers from that course as well as speeches and writings by Sundiata on civic engagement and the role of artists in education and in communities. To obtain a copy, please contact Ann Rosenthal at ann@mappinternational.org.

Events on the Horizon

Just 10 days left until…

CollaborAction: Arts Marketing, Sponsorship, and Fundraising Strategies That Work! National Arts Marketing Project Conference
Dates: October 30–November 2, 2009
Providence, RI

Release your inner superhero! CollaborAction will feature dozens of sessions, keynote and plenary speakers, and roundtable discussions providing you with concrete tools to make CollaborAction happen in your day-to-day work. And you’ll take part in a number of power networking opportunities for you and your colleagues to strategize the defeat of the marketer’s and fundraiser’s worst enemy—the dreaded arch villain Status Quo.

Join us in 10 days for CollaborAction and help your organization face challenges and make the most of opportunities in this economic climate. You can still register on site, so we’ll see you in Providence!

With support from the
Ford Foundation
Washington, DC Office
1000 Vermont Avenue NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
T 202.371.2830 | F 202.371.0424
New York City Office
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New York, NY 10022
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