Animating Democracy April 2010 E-News
Animating Democracy News and Updates

Animating Democracy Impact Webinar and Workshop Debut

Based on information and ideas generated in the Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, Animating Democracy recently presented two programs to help field leaders consider how to assess the social impact of creative work that aims to make community change.

On March 18, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies sponsored the webinar Evaluation Insights from the Art at Work Initiative. The webinar was attended by 63 individuals from 23 state arts agencies including executive directors, staff, and council members, as well as representatives from South Arts and the NEA.

On March 25, the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission sponsored a live half-day workshop, What Difference Are We Making, as part of its At the Crossroads Community Arts conference. Nearly 50 community artists, arts organization leaders, community partner agencies, and scholars participated.

Artist Marty Pottenger and evaluator Chris Dwyer presented both sessions and gave insight into the work they’d been doing with ART AT WORK, an Arts & Equity Initiative in Portland, ME. ART AT WORK, directed by Pottenger, aims to improve municipal government through strategic art projects between artists, city departments, unions, elected officials, and the community. As part of the Impact Initiative, Dwyer and Pottenger applied an evaluation framework developed by Dwyer to systematically define outcomes and measurable indicators of change for the Police Poetry Project. This project sought to improve low department morale and relations between police and the public. The framework is designed to identify what matters to key stakeholders and leaders in order to help make the case for the role of the arts in making social change.  

To read the Evaluation Plan for the ART AT WORK project and access other case studies from the Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative:

News from the Field

Diplomatic Dancing

Launched in January 2010, DanceMotion USA aims to share work by some of America’s finest contemporary dance makers. DanceMotion USA is a program of the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State produced by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). Three dance companies are participating—Evidence, a Dance Company; ODC/Dance; and Urban Bush Women. Each company is touring to three countries in one region, and each tour will take place over a month-long period, with the companies in residence for a week in each country.

The residencies, hosted by U.S. Embassies in partnership with leading cultural, social service, and community-based organizations and educational institutions, are designed to create opportunities for engagement and exchange. Public performances will be complemented by master classes, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, media outreach, and exchanges with in-country artists.

The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) Paints Community in El Salvador

Recently, SPARC received an invitation from the Embassy of the United State in El Salvador, spearheaded by Campos Arts Group along with the mayor of Concepcion de Ataco, to work on a project entitled “Murales para el Desarrollo, pintando mi municipio” (“Painting my community with Murals for Cultural Tourism”).

Beginning this month, SPARC will help produce murals in the pueblos of Ataco that will spread and increase awareness of the new developments of the century and emphasize topics like the changes in our climate, citizenship, and gender equality.

New Album Makes Urban Planning Sing

In January 2009, Melanie Hammet was accepted to The Seaside Institutes Escape To Create residency, having submitted a proposal to write songs that distilled urban planning concepts to human-sized basics: the impact of good street design; the importance of public space; the Ponzi-scheme structure of non-renewable planning. The seven songs written during the residency were recently released as a CD entitled Edifice Complex and Other Urban Plans. Hammet brings to this musical endeavor her diverse experiences as an artist interested in the issue of land-use and as an elected council member addressing urban development in Pine Lake, GA.

Publications and Resources

Funders Committee for Civic Participation: Resources

The Funders Committee for Civic Participation offers a useful set of resources for foundations interested in learning more about the boundaries associated with funding civic engagement work. Updated news provides an overview of the changing national landscape affecting the field while resources such as the Legal Guidelines for Funding Nonpartisan Civic Engagement provide knowledge about how to best work within legal guidelines.

Events on the Horizon

Food for Thought
April 23 and April 27
Chicago, IL 

Albany Park Theater Project (APTP) and the Public Square have partnered to co-sponsor two events in conjunction with Feast, APTP’s latest theater production about the importance of food in society.

"The Power & Pleasure of Food"
April 23, 2010
The Laura Wiley Theater

Following the April 23 performance of Feast, a facilitated conversation at 8:00 p.m. will explore current food policy issues in Chicago, with a focus on themes from Feast. Panelists include Dara Cooper, food justice activist; Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Chicago Partnership Director for “Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities”; two healthy lunch student activists from Senn and Little Village Lawndale High Schools; and Lisa Lee, Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and innovator behind the museum’s weekly soup kitchen.

"Food Fight! Are School Lunches Setting Kids Up for Poor Nutrition?"
April 27, 2010
Little Village Lawndale High School

Michelle Obama's Let’s Move campaign has brought national attention to the problem of childhood obesity. Join us from 4:00–5:30 p.m. for this special intergenerational conversation on nutrition in the public schools with Jackson Potter and Little Village Lawndale High School students who were involved in the recent speak out against unhealthy school lunches.

The Mural Speaks!
May 8, 2010
Olympia, WA

The Mural Speaks!, an event hosted by The Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project (ORSMP), will take place the evening of May 8 in Olympia, WA, to celebrate the mural with live music and performances by members of local organizations. A ceremony will spotlight parts of the mural contributed by community organizations with representatives making a presentation of their choice. In addition, this event will be a celebration and finale to the People’s Assembly, a day of workshops and activities focused on community organizing and local activism.

ORSMP is an interdisciplinary, interactive, multisite public art project that crosses borders and recognizes the unique relationship that exists between the people of Olympia, WA; the people of Rafah, occupied Palestine; and all people who struggle and work for justice.

7th Annual Games for Change Festival
May 24–27, 2010
New York City

Taking place this May, the 7th Annual Games for Change Festival will explore the latest digital games for social change, the real-world impact of digital games to address pressing social justice issues and funding strategies for those looking to harness the power of digital games. The festival will be hosted in New York City by Parsons The New School for Design and The Games for Learning Institute at NYU. To register, visit

With support from the
Ford Foundation
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