Animating Democracy May 2011 E-News
Animating Democracy News and Updates

NEW Webinar! Trend or Tipping Point: A New Report on Arts & Social Change Grantmaking

If you missed the live Americans for the Arts webinar, Trend or Tipping Point: A New Report on Arts & Social Change Grantmaking, catch it now in the webinar archives. Animating Democracy Co-Directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza present the major findings from the report, which assembles a first-time portrait of arts funders, social change funders, and others supporting civic engagement and social change through arts and cultural strategies.

News from the Field

Urbano's Teen Art Students Take a Stand against Violence

During the 2011 Wake Up the Earth Festival (organized by Spontaneous Celebrations) Urbano's staff, alumni, and teen students—along with community members and many others—planted a tree in Jamaica Plain, MA's Stony Brook Park in memory of young people killed by gun violence. The young tree, donated by Rich Gargiulo Jr. of Tree Works Earth Design in Jamaica Plain, is part of Palas por Pistolas (Shovels for Guns), an international public art project led by acclaimed Mexican artist Pedro Reyes.

In partnership with Pedro Reyes, Rich Gargiulo Jr., and Boston's Department of Conservation and Recreation, Urbano will plant a total of six trees in Boston neighborhoods effected by gun violence during the summer of 2011.

Innovative Festival of Ideas Imagines the Future of New York

The Festival of Ideas for the New City took place in New York City, May 4–8, and included a conference, projects scattered around the city, and a streetfest. The festival was a major new collaborative initiative involving lots of organizations—from large universities to arts institutions and community groups—working together to imagine the future city and explore the ideas destined to shape it. A first for New York, it served as a platform for artists, writers, architects, engineers, designers, urban farmers, planners, and thought leaders to exchange ideas, propose solutions, and invite the public to participate. Check out for more about the ideas discussed.

Articles and Publications


A book entitled Transforma details the history and activities of a project/collective by the same name that supported and celebrated cultural practices that impacted the social and physical environment in New Orleans from 2005–2010.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Transforma strategically supported such practices with direct financial assistance, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to encourage a greater emphasis on the role of artists, the arts, and culture in addressing the social and political needs that confront our society.

The book includes essays from two investigators, working independently, who had the opportunity to research, investigate, and write about Transforma from their individual perspectives. One, written by Aimee Chang, manager of public programs at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, looks at Transforma through the lens of art history and pedagogy. The other, by Maria Rosario Jackson, senior research associate at the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Center at the Urban Institute, considers the initiative within the context of community development and urban planning.

The Artist as Philanthropist: Strengthening the Next Generation of Artist-Endowed Foundations

The Aspen Institute's Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation (PSI) released a new report on the emerging field of private foundations endowed by visual artists in the United States. The Artist as Philanthropist: Strengthening the Next Generation of Artist-Endowed Foundations draws on findings of the Aspen Institute's National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations, the first research effort to focus on this distinctive charitable form. Initiated in 2007, the study identified 300 artist-endowed foundations holding $2.5 billion in assets, including more than $1 billion in art assets. Between 1990–2005, the number of these foundations nearly doubled, while charitable purpose disbursements for the period totaled $954 million—$639 million in grants and $315 million in charitable administrative costs, including for direct operation of activities such as exhibition programs, study centers, and artists' residencies. Though only a small portion of all private foundations in the United States, artist-endowed foundations are poised to be a force shaping cultural philanthropy and stewarding the country's contemporary art patrimony. The study project was led by Christine J. Vincent.

The two-volume publication, which can be viewed online, downloaded, and purchased in hard copy at, provides leaders in philanthropy, the arts, education, and journalism with an overview of the emerging artist-endowed foundation field, its origins, current status, trends, and prospects.

Acting Together I: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict
Volume I: Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence

New Village Press is releasing the first volume of a two-volume series describing exemplary peacebuilding performances in regions fractured by violence, dislocation, poverty, and oppression. Acting Together I, to be released in June 2011, focuses on theater as a peacebuilding and resistance tool in the midst of direct violence and as an instrument of healing and remembering in the aftermath of mass violence. Acting Together II, to be released in November 2011, will explore theater and ritual’s capacity to bridge gaps and create inclusion in the more subtle context of structural violence and social exclusion.

Acting Together I details vivid firsthand accounts of traditional and nontraditional performances in Serbia, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Israel, Palestine, Argentina, Peru, India, Cambodia, and Australia.
Contributors to this volume include artists, conflict resolution practitioners, and scholars who work directly with communities struggling to make sense of their past, heal their present wounds, and build a common future. This book is complemented by a website of related materials and a documentary film featuring clips and interviews with the curators and artists (distributed separately).

Calls for Proposals

Hope and (Ex)Change: Economies of Performance Activism
Deadline: Monday, May 30, 2011

The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), a professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theatre and performance, is calling for proposals for Hope and (Ex)Change: Economies of Performance Activism, a working session at their 2011 conference in Montreal, November 17–20, 2011.

The session is based on the idea that if theater operates as an economy, activist performances traffic in currencies of hope and change. Whatever their political viewpoint, performance activists gamble on the possibility of persuading audiences to make an effective ideological exchange, trading ignorance for engagement, apathy for empathy, or even opposition and division for support and coalition.  ASTR invites participants to capitalize on the metaphor of theatrical economies, posing questions about the conditions of possibility for and the limits of theater activism’s market of transformational exchanges. ASTR is also interested in how the metaphor of economic exchange highlights harder or less idealistic aspects of performance activism—the limit conditions of “civility” that potentially preserve inequitable systems.

Please visit for more information on session guidelines.

Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)
Deadline: July 15, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. (EST)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced the availability of more than $100 million in funding for up to 75 Community Transformation Grants. Created by the Affordable Care Act, these grants are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic disease, violence and injury, and improve mental health and equity. This round of funding increases the grant cycle to a five-year period ($900 million), which will allow communities more time to tailor and implement strategies, engage communities, and ultimately shift norms around healthy eating and physical activity. It will also engage multiple sectors, encouraging community-based organizations, local and state governments to work together to build sustainable, effective change. This funding cycle emphasizes health equity, with specific outcomes geared towards improving health among those who face the greatest disparities, along with resources dedicated directly towards building capacity.  Please contact your local health department to see how you might fit in.

(From Tom Wolff on Community Transformation: The Power of Collaborative Solutions in Action)

With support from the
Ford Foundation
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