January 2010
Animating Democracy News and Updates

New Publications from Animating Democracy!

Animating Democracy has just released four new case studies that reflect on how to understand the social impact of these groups’ art-based civic engagement work. All were developed through the Field Lab of the Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Finding Voice is an ongoing program supported by the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) and Every Voice in Action Foundation that helps refugee and immigrant youth develop literacy and second language skills by researching, photographing, writing, and speaking out about critical social issues in their lives and communities. As part of Animating Democracy’s Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, TPAC collaborated with ethnographer and evaluator Maribel Alvarez to learn how principles and practices of ethnography could be applied as qualitative evaluation strategies to better understand the social and civic effects of their Finding Voices project, as well as help TPAC reconceptualize its role in and approach to assessing the civic impact of its work toward more effective casemaking with local civic leaders.

Grounded in a recent strategic plan, the TPAC is moving to advance civic engagement in the city and county through its programming, funding, and partnerships. In addition to the qualitative focus reflected in the evaluation inquiry with Maribel Alvarez, TPAC wanted to know what quantitative measures are reasonable to use to understand the civic engagement effects of its work as an agency. In this paper, collaborators Mark Stern and Susan Seifert of the Social Impact of the Arts Project, University of Pennsylvania, propose five strategies: improving organizational data gathering, telling stories, documenting artists and the informal cultural sector, identifying institutional networks, and using geographic information systems to integrate data for analysis to document civic engagement and the arts.

This case study looks at research by the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) and Urban Institute Senior Researcher Maria Rosario Jackson to develop a foundation to recurrently identify, monitor, and assess the cultural infrastructure of the Skid Row neighborhood in Los Angeles. The framework suggested by their research will enable Skid Row organizations and leaders who use arts and culture to see their work as part of a larger system and to create an asset-focused narrative for Skid Row that may help shift or expand the ways outsiders perceive the Skid Row community.

A collaborative inquiry between artist Rha Goddess and evaluator Suzanne Callahan of Callahan Consulting for the Arts, this case study focuses on the impact of LOW, Rha Goddess’s one-woman performance that unflinchingly depicts the human reality of mental illness in our culture and post-performance dialogue on audiences’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about mental health and illness. The case study documents the assessment of impact based on: 1) a formal evaluation conducted by City University of New York (CUNY) researchers using an study approved by the Institutional Review Board; and 2) an alternative approach to audience evaluation developed in collaboration with Callahan and tested with one audience. The two studies complemented each other and allowed comparison of two research processes that asked similar questions in different ways.

In addition, Animating Democracy has new profiles about two fantastic projects on its website:

This project engaged Bangladeshi youth to collect immigration stories and images from Bangladeshi community members through interviews, forums, and art-making sessions. Based on the themes that emerged from these gathered narratives, the group decided to create images for banners, which were presented at the International Day of the Immigrant community event in December 2006, carried in an immigration march, and were installed along Third Street in April 2007.

Sojourn Theatre’s BUILT explored the future of evolving U.S. cities with a multi-location series of exploratory performance events that culminated in a theatrical event in Portland, OR. Using Evanston/Chicago; Hartford, CT; and Portland as backdrops, the company organized conversations with artists and community members in each city. Through a unique combination of performance, dialogue, and research, its public explorations examined the ethical and logistical challenges that a rapidly growing population poses to shifting urban landscapes.

Arts Education Program Manager Job Opportunity

Americans for the Arts is now accepting applications for a full-time position as the Arts Education Program Manager. The principal tasks of this position are to use the tools of advocacy, research, and professional development to strengthen the network of local arts leaders who can then affect change in arts education programs and policies at the local and statewide levels. The Arts Education Program Manager is a member of the Local Arts Agency Services team in the Local Arts Advancement department and is the arts education hub for a cross-departmental team that includes arts education as part of its work. This position provides support to the Government and Public Affairs department as they promote federal policies that advance arts education (NCLB and Department of Education) and the Private Sector Initiatives department for their strategic alliance work with national leadership organizations such as the Conference Board and Council on Foundations.

To view detailed descriptions and requirements visit our careers website at: www.AmericansForTheArts.org/about_us/careers/002.asp. Qualified applicants may apply using our online application system. To see more jobs in the arts, visit jobbank.artsusa.org

News from the Field

Sojourn Summer Internship Applications

Sojourn Theatre is now accepting applications for internships for its summer 2010 production of On the Table. Sojourn creates compelling, engaging theater committed to a consistent investigation of the relationship of artists and audiences to place and architecture. The ensemble is offering internships in performance, stage managing, multimedia and scenic design, and lighting design beginning June 25, 2010 and concluding August 2, 2010.

For more information, call Sojourn at 971.544.0464 or send an e-mail to info@SojournTheatre.org.

Articles and Publications

Americans for the Arts Launches the National Art Index
January 20, 2010

The National Arts Index, created by Americans for the Arts, is a highly distilled annual measure of the health and vitality of arts in the United States using 76 equal-weighted, national-level indicators of arts and culture activity. This report covers an 11-year period, from 1998 to 2008, and includes some fascinating findings on trends in organizational capacity, changes in personal participation and creation, nonprofit vs. for-profit, funding, education, and more. Americans for the Arts will celebrates the Index’s release on January 20, 2010 with an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance
Edited by Scott L. Newstok and Ayanna Thompson

This volume of entirely new essays provides innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to the various ways Shakespeare’s Macbeth has been adapted and appropriated within the context of American racial constructions. More than two dozen contributions, such as Lenwood Sloan’s reflection on the production of “Vo-Du Macbeth,” explore Macbeth’s haunting presence in American drama, poetry, film, music, history, politics, acting, and directing—all through the intersections of race and performance.

For more information, please see the publisher's website for Weyward Macbeth at us.macmillan.com/weywardmacbeth.

Telling Stories to Change the World
Edited by Rickie Solinger, Madeline Fox, and Kayhan Irani

Telling Stories to Change the World is a powerful collection of essays about community-based and interest-based projects where storytelling is used as a strategy for speaking out for justice. Contributors from locations across the globe—including Uganda, Darfur, China, Afghanistan, South Africa, New Orleans, and Chicago—describe grassroots projects in which communities use narrative as a way of exploring what a more just society might look like and what civic engagement means. These compelling accounts of resistance, hope, and vision showcase the power of the storytelling form to generate critique and collective action. Together, these projects demonstrate the contemporary power of stories to stimulate engagement, active citizenship, the pride of identity, and the humility of human connectedness.

Events on the Horizon

The Owl's Nest Retreat: A Weekend for Women Who Use the Arts to Engage Community
February 5–7, 2010

This weekend retreat in Austin, TX, offers women in the arts a chance to gather with other working professionals to explore their roles as facilitators, program directors, artists, and scholars in a creative, comforting, natural setting. Using personal stories as source and resource, participants will discover ways to build community and carve and create new ideas in their work.

This event is organized by Lynn Hoare of University of Texas Voices Against Violence and Karen LaShelle of Theatre Action Project. The cost of the retreat is $125, which includes room, board, and tuition.

Seven Simultaneous Lecturers: Indy Arts and Globalization
February 24, 2010

Seven prominent names of the Indianapolis’ art community join in a panel to discuss the future of Indianapolis arts in the face of globalization. However, there’s a twist—the lecturers will be speaking at the same time. Audience members will be given the power to arbitrarily raise or lower the volume of each speaker as the talks progress, creating a frantic, unstructured whirlwind of words and ideas. After the lectures, audience members will be encouraged to express the ideas and feelings generated by this surreal presentation in a facilitated discussion period.

Limiting Knowledge in Democracy: A Social Research Conference
February 24–26, 2010

Join award-winning journalists, distinguished scholars, and policymakers to examine how the U.S. government and other political and cultural institutions distort or otherwise affect the flow of information. Hosted by the New School in New York City, NY, this conference asks key questions about what constraints on access to knowledge safeguard our democracy and what limitations erode it.

The keynote speaker for the conference is Seymour Hersh, but the schedule boasts an abundance of other leaders in their respective fields. Tickets are regularly $35 for the full conference or $8 per session. Nonprofit staff and members can attend the full conference for $15 or a single session for $5.  Students and New School alumni and faculty are free.

With support from the
Ford Foundation
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