Animating Democracy February 2012 E-News
Animating Democracy News and Updates

Conference Call on Creative Engagement: From Civic Dialogue to Direct Democracy
March 7, 2012, 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. EST

Animating Democracy is excited to collaborate with Arts & Democracy in one in our colleagues’ series of conference briefing calls that present and facilitate conversation and resource-sharing around compelling work in arts and democracy. The focus is on creative ways that people can directly engage in democracy, local decision-making, and planning. Theater artist Michael Rohd will talk about the Town Hall project, a collaboration of Sojourn Theatre and The Team. Within this project, Town Hall Nation, a 2012 initiative, invites schools, theaters, and community organizations nationwide to creatively re-imagine and orchestrate “idealized town hall events where democracy functions and civic discourse works.” Donata Secondo, co-director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, and Caron Atlas, director Arts & Democracy, will discuss their involvement in participatory budgeting to expand voice and convey ideas in the budgeting process. Maribel Alvarez will share current activities of Tucson Meet Yourself, the longstanding folklife festival/organization (of which she is board chair) and a current effort in partnership with the San Ignacio Yaqui Council to develop the civic engagement capacity of young people through a photography-based asset mapping process. The call will explore questions such as: How do we get beyond conventional town hall meetings to include more and diverse voices and creative forms of participation? How can arts and culture break down polarization and encourage an assets oriented approach in direct democracy? The call will be co-moderated and follow-up resources assembled by Pam Korza, co-director, Animating Democracy.

To register for the conference call, e-mail

News from the Field

Arts & Democracy Project Launches New Site

Arts & Democracy Project is delighted to announce the launch of its new website! The new site at aims to explain A&D's work, share resources, and highlight some of the exciting work partners and allies are doing in the field. Features include a new resource called the Art of Policy Change, which illustrates the impact that art, media, and cultural projects can have on policy debates; a new calendar of national and regional events that focus on the intersections of arts and democracy; updated versions of A&D's 24 Bridge Conversations essays; archived audio and resource lists from A&D's briefing calls; and writings on the concept of cultural organizing.

Abandoned School Repurposed to Provide Affordable Housing and Art Spaces

P.S. 109, a long-abandoned school building in East Harlem, is getting a massive makeover. In a few years, the building will offer affordable housing, artists' workspaces, and spaces for community organizations. The $50 million project is a result of a partnership between ArtSpace Projects, a national nonprofit real estate developer for the arts, and El Barrio’s Operation Fightback, an East Harlem community development organization. (from

New Publications and Resources

Release and Panel Discussion for The Painted King
March 8, 2012
New York University, 20 Cooper Square, 4th floor, NY

There will be a book release and panel for The Painted King, a new book by conservator Glenn Wharton, on March 8, from 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. at New York University. The book tells the story of Wharton’s efforts to conserve a statue of King Kamehameha I, the unifier of the Hawai’ian islands.  Moreover, it is the story of his journey to understand the statue's meaning for the residents of Kapa`au, a small community on the big island of Hawai’i and the birthplace of Kamehameha. Going against the advice of some of his peers, Wharton involves the people of Kapa`au in the conservation of their statue and soon finds himself immersed in complex political, social, and cultural considerations, including questions about representations of the Native Hawai’ian past. The Painted King examines professional authority and community involvement while providing a highly engaging and accessible look at "activist conservation" at work. Animating Democracy is pleased to have worked closely with Glenn Wharton in the context of supporting arts-based civic dialogue activities implemented in conjunction with the restoration of the statue and through the Hawai’i Alliance for Arts Education and local leaders. 

The book launch includes a panel discussion with Americans for the Arts Board Member and Public Art Council Member John Haworth, who directs the George Gustav, Heye Center, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian; John Kuo Wei Tchen, Founding Director, Asian/Pacific/American Institute; Harriet F. Senie, Professor of Art History, CUNY Graduate Center; and Mitchell Duneier, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University.

Recently Released! Volume II: Building Just and Inclusive Communities

The result of a collaborative effort between Brandeis University, Theatre Without Borders, and engaged artists from around the world, Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict brings together performers, conflict resolution practitioners, and scholars who work directly with divided communities struggling to make sense of their past, heal their present wounds, and build a common future. Collectively, Volume I: Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence and the just released, Volume II: Building Just and Inclusive Communities, document how traditional and nontraditional performances nourish and restore capacities for expression, communication, and transformative action, and creatively support communities in grappling with conflicting moral imperatives surrounding questions of justice, memory, resistance, and identity.

Contributing authors include Daniel Banks, Eugene van Erven, Kate Gardner, Mary Ann Hunter, John O'Neal, and Jo Salas. Foreword by Salomón Lerner Febres. Preface by Pauline Ross with an afterword by Tatsushi Arai.

Get Inspired by Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music

In Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music, maestro Gustavo Dudamel’s  story becomes the entry point to an equally captivating subject: El Sistema, the music education program that nurtured his musical talent, first as a young violinist and then as a budding conductor under the mentorship of its founder, José Antonio Abreu. What began in Venezuela has now reached children in Los Angeles, New York City, Baltimore, and cities around the world. No matter the location, the overarching goal of El Sistema is unwavering: to rescue children from the depredations of poverty through music. Part history, part reportage, this book reveals that arts education can indeed effect positive social change.

Calls for Proposals

Call for Submissions: Provisions Research Residencies
Deadline: March 1, 2012

Provisions is pleased to launch research residencies that investigate futures for creative civil society. The program will bring together four residents (artists, scholars, activists, and practitioners) for research-based projects that explore and extend social change themes. Participants will gain exposure to policies, practices, and politics while exploring transformative social imaginations and strategies. The rapidly changing urban and institutional landscape of Washington, DC will serve as a platform, model, and resource to propose and prepare social futures.

Provisions invites letters of interest from artists, activists, scholars, writers, educators, and practitioners. To apply to the program, compose a one page letter for each topic of interest that expresses your past works, future visions, research interests, and how you would benefit from program participation. All letters should be submitted with a resume and samples of current work (website link or pdf). All letters of interest for the first round of projects must be received by March 1, 2012 at Selection will be announced April 1.

Call for Proposals for Micro-Fest USA

The Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) is seeking proposals for performances, workshops, works-in-process, neighborhood tours, case studies, community conversations, etc. that highlight the impact of art on community.  These projects will be included in Micro-Fest USA: Revitalize, Reconnect, Renew, a four-city cycle of events that examines the role that art and artists play in creating healthy, vibrant communities.

To request an Application, email or check out

Apply for CREATE/CHANGE: Transforming the Lives of Elders Through Creative Engagement
June 24-28, 2012
Milwaukee, WI

CREATE/CHANGE: Transforming the Lives of Elders Through Creative Engagement will bring together the Penelope Project team to share all that has been learned about creating rigorous art, partnerships, accessible programming, and individual and organizational change in long term care.

The program will be taught by residents and staff of Luther Manor, side by side with artists from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) and Sojourn Theatre, and UWM faculty. For more info:

Letters of Inquiry for Creative Capital Grants
Deadline: March 1, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. (EST)

Creative Capital is now accepting online letters of inquiry for grants in Emerging Fields, Literature and Performing Arts. The deadline for submitting inquiries is March 1 at 4:00 p.m. (EST). Visit to learn more about the application process, read the grant guidelines, and access the Inquiry Form.

Creative Capital provides integrated financial and advisory support to artists pursuing innovative and adventurous projects. Acting as a catalyst for the development of exceptional and imaginative ideas, it supports artists whose work is provocative, timely, and relevant; who are deeply engaged with their art forms and demonstrate a rigorous commitment to their craft; who are boldly original and push the boundaries of their genre; and who create work that carries the potential to reshape the cultural landscape. Selected grantees receive up to $50,000 in direct support for their project and advisory services valued at more than $40,000.

Questions? Visit or e-mail

Apply to Be a Part of the Community Arts Cultural Arts Advocacy Certificate Program
Deadline: March 15, 2011

The Community Arts University Without Walls, a Puerto Rico-based summer program is now launching the Community Arts Cultural Arts Advocacy Certificate Program for Summer 2012. This intensive, 16-credit summer course that will run from June 4–29, 2012, will provide those interested in working within the community arts field courses taught by renowned experts culturally grounded in the arts, public policy, and best practices that have made significant contributions to diverse communities. Students will meet and work with policymakers, scholars, community arts advocates, artists, and cultural workers, to collectively work and develop strategies for contributing to their communities and the broader society, to assure equity at all levels of society. The program accepts applications from students with BA, MA, and PhD, as well as current BA students, adult learners, community activists, or artists without formal credentials. Application process is currently running and ends on March 15, 2011.

Call for Writing on Projects Using the Arts to Promote Community Building and Civic Change

The University of Iowa Press is proud to announce the launch of a new book series, Humanities and Public Life, edited by Teresa Mangum (Obermann Center, University of Iowa) and Anne Valk (John Nicholas Brown Center, Brown University).

The University of Iowa Press is seeking manuscripts that examine projects using the arts and humanities to promote community building and civic change. These short books will meet the pressing needs of publicly engaged scholars and their community partners for models of rigorous work, critical thinking about best practices, and strategies for measuring a project's impact.
For more information and proposal guidelines, see the University of Iowa Press's website. Send inquiries and proposals to Catherine Cocks at

Events on the Horizon

Save the Date: Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads
April 12–14, 2012
St. Louis, MO

The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture (CPAC), present Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads.

This conference, which takes place April 12–14 in St. Louis, unites a cross-section of artists, community activists, educators, academics, policymakers, and creatives in a platform for critical dialogue about arts and community development. This convening places a special emphasis on the role of artists and their community partners in creating positive social change.

Presentations of new scholarship, workshops, and discussions will allow people in diverse social practices to connect and engage in a forum that inspires new ideas and community collaboration

For more information, contact Roseann Weiss at

With support from the
Ford Foundation
Washington, DC Office
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