November 2009
Animating Democracy News and Updates

Animating Democracy to Launch Arts for Change Funder Survey

On December 1, Animating Democracy will launch an online survey as part of the Arts & Social Change Mapping Initiative. The survey seeks to obtain a current portrait of public- and private-sector funding available from arts, social change, and other funders for arts that foster civic engagement and social change. This survey will increase understanding of funding resources, opportunities, and challenges for this arena of work. The initiative and survey are supported by The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Open Society Institute, CrossCurrents Foundation, and Lambent Foundation.

Animating Democracy invites participation by agencies and individuals who are supporting arts and cultural strategies to make change, whether their emphasis is civic engagement, community building, community development, community organizing, social change, social justice, participatory democracy, or other goals. To gain a full picture, we also urge those thinking about or moving toward supporting this kind of work to complete the survey.

Findings from the survey, funder interviews, and focus groups will be reported in an Arts for Change Funders report. An online database of funders will be available as a resource to inform funders’ grantmaking and to facilitate peer exchange, referrals, and strategic collaboration among funders. The database will also be a resource for artists, community organizers, and cultural organizations.

Deadline for completing the survey is December 18, 2009. Funders who would like to participate in the survey should request the Funder Survey and send an e-mail with contact information to

Animating Democracy on the Road

At the Arts and Justice Preconference of the 2009 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference, Animating Democracy Co-Directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza organized the session Making the Case for the Arts as a Strategy for Social Justice and Civic Engagement with Klare Shaw from the Barr Foundation. This session shared current initiatives to measure the viability and impact of art and social programs, as well as other approaches and tools for evaluating what difference they make. Presenters included: Suzanne Callahan, founder, Callahan Consulting for the Arts; Rha Goddess, artist, 1+1+1=ONE; Maria Rosario Jackson, Urban Institute; Christine Lamas Weinberg, Culture for Change project manager; and Klare Shaw, program officer at the Barr Foundation.

During the National Arts Marketing Project Conference, presenters Lynne McCormack, of the City of Providence, Department of Art, Culture & Tourism, Providence, RI; Ben Strand, of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Young Auditorium; and Schaffer Bacon held the session The Arts Are the New Block Party: Civic Engagement and How It Fits into Your Marketing Mix. The presenters offered an overview of how arts organizations are defining a greater civic role by fostering citizen participation in their communities and engaging audiences in more meaningful ways. The case of UW-Whitewater’s experience with The Big Read of the National Endowment of the Arts illustrated the positive impact of collaborating with diverse arts, education, literacy, and museum partners to forge a successful community literacy initiative.

News from the Field

New Online Resource Helps Chicago Groups Engage Audiences

The Arts Engagement Exchange recently launched an online resource to share and obtain sales marketing tips, tricks, and strategies to help increase demand for the arts, deepen audience participation, and reach diverse audiences. The Arts Engagement Exchange, formerly the Chicago Wallace Audience Engagement Network, aims to build arts audiences in Chicago by creating a learning network among Chicago arts and culture organizations on topics related to audience engagement.

Exhibit Highlights Intersections of African and Mexican Identity

The African Presence in México: From Yanga to the Present is a traveling exhibition, developed by curators Sagrario Cruz-Carretero and Cesáreo Moreno at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, which recently opened at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC. The exhibit received excellent reviews. The Washington Post review said, “[the exhibit] goes beyond merely good by raising provocative and painful questions in a forthright way alien to all too many exhibitions about race today.” Using art from the colonial era, photographs and contemporary crafts, sculpture and imagery, the exhibition documents the arrival, disappearance, and reappearance of African identity in México over the past five centuries. It is on display at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum through July 4, 2010.

New Initiative to Support Artists Effecting Social Change

Artists in Context (AIC) launched operations on October 9, 2009, with a symposium in Cambridge, MA, featuring artists Ann Hamilton, Mel Chin, and Jeremy Lui; MIT aeronautics professor Dava Newman; Animating Democracy Co-Director Barbara Schaffer Bacon; and Harvard art history professor Carry Lambert-Beatty. The purpose of the project is to support the research-based, multidisciplinary, embedded practices of contemporary artists and other creative thinkers who seek to invent alternative approaches to existing societal challenges.

Structured as a 10-year initiative, AIC endeavors to cultivate the visions, concepts, plans, and projects of contemporary creative practitioners at an historic moment of transition and necessary change.

The first project of AIC is an Artists’ Prospectus for the Nation, a multimedia work that positions artists as active participants in society and documents their innovative plans for re-thinking issues of health, nature, shelter, learning, belief, and justice, among others. Broadly accessible and widely distributed, the Prospectus aims to be a resource for public conversations as well as policymaking. Artists in Context is a project of The Arts Company, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge, MA.

Artists and Scientists Collaborate to Tackle Climate Change

TippingPoint is a groundbreaking British organization which explores the boundary between artistic and cultural life and the extraordinary challenge of global climate change. At the core of its activities are a series of two-day events which put contemporary artists and practicing scientists in collaborative conversation.

With the aim to enrich both scientific and creative practice through dialogue and debate, TippingPoint events are a rare opportunity for professionals from the arts and science communities to celebrate their shared capacity for transformative innovation and engage with peers from across many disciplines.

The first-ever American gathering will be hosted in December 2009 in a partnership among TippingPoint, the British Council, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities.

Discussion Marks Woolly Mammoth's 30th Anniversary

In light of their 30th anniversary season, on November 14, 2009, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, held a think tank entitled Who’s in Your Circle?, convening a diverse group to discuss the role that Woolly and the broader theater community should play in civic exchange. Mini-manifestoes and a matinee of Woolly’s current show, Full Circle, enhanced dialogue that sought answers to questions ranging from what concrete action that Woolly should take to encourage audience engagement to theater’s place in the community context.

The Finale of the Habeas Lounge in Downtown Los Angeles

The Habeas Lounge: A Pluralistic Downtown Los Angeles Investigation held its final night of conversations on Thursday, November 12. This 8-week public project was part of a larger traveling series created by Linda Pollack, entitled the HABEAS LOUNGE, which created spaces for discussion of civic issues in various communities nationwide. This iteration of the HABEAS LOUNGE project was specifically constructed as both a map based-exhibition and a space for visitors to interpolate their own ideas and visions about downtown Los Angeles.

Arts for the Earth

Earth Day Network, a global environmental nonprofit organization, is planning major celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day—this April 22, 2010. They are teaming up with Americans for the Arts in launching a major global Arts for the Earth initiative to encourage as many artists and arts groups as possible to focus on some aspect of the environment and the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The Earth Day Network will feature artist and their environmental projects on their website, and possibly on Earth Day TV, and during our major Earth Day celebrations. To find out more about how you can become involved, please contact Anjali Hansen, Earth Day Network's Arts for the Earth Coordinator at

Articles and Publications

Recent Article Examines Fluent Leadership Today

A recent article in the National Civic Review entitled, "The Era of the Bridge Builder: Identifying 'Fluent Leaders'" by Phoebe Eng looks at the characteristics of fluent leaders and organizations. She uses organizations such as the Ms. Foundation’s Women and AIDS Fund, New American Media, and Animating Democracy to illustrate how organizations use different methods of understanding and being understood across apparent cultural borders.

The article appears in “Philanthropy and Diversity: New Voices, New Visions,” a special issue of the National Civic Review guest edited by Scott Neilson, a former program officer at the MacArthur Foundation, and Helena Huang, senior program consultant with the Funders’ Committee on Civic Participation. The issue explores new thinking about diversity in light of recent developments in American society. It includes essays by Alan Jenkins, Wayne Winborne, Glenn C. Loury, Gara LaMarche, Torie Osborn, Caitlin Baggot, Phoebe Eng, Angelo Falcon, James Richardson, and Sandy Close. For a complimentary print issue, contact Kristin Seavey,

Events on the Horizon

Call for Paper, Presentation, Dialogue, and Workshop Proposals for
At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening
Deadline for submission: December 21, 2009

As hosts for the first Community Arts and Development Convening in St. Louis, MO, the Community Arts Training Institute of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission invites proposals for papers, presentations, dialogues, and workshops for At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening, March 25–27, 2010, in St. Louis, MO.

This conference brings together a cross-section of artists, community partners, and leaders in a platform for critical dialogue about arts and community development.

Please go to or contact for more information about At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening and proposal submissions. Submissions should be sent as attachments in PDF form to Roseann Weiss, Director of the Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute, at Please include CONVENING SUBMISSION in the e-mail subject line.

With support from the
Ford Foundation
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