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

Reclaiming the F-Word: Folk Arts, Shifting Populations, & Civic Engagement
Thursday, June 14 at 2:30 p.m. (EST)

In this hour-long webinar, we will explore the importance of folk and traditional arts, highlighting how they connect individuals to their communities, foster dialogue between groups, and build cultural and civic capacity. Presenters will offer you examples of folk and traditional arts as a method for creating civic engagement and social change and show how they are key to both preservation and participation.

Presenters: Betsy Peterson; Executive Director of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts Amy Kitchener; and Senior Research Associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center and Director of the Urban Institute’s Culture, Creativity, and Communities Program Maria Rosario Jackson

To register, please visit

For some background reading on the incredible role that folk art plays in preserving culture and cultivating civic engagement, check out Betsy Peterson’s trend paper on folk and traditional arts and social change. See also Lori Pourier’s paper, Culture Bearers as Agents of Change and Edward Wemytewa’s paper, Echoes of the Earth in Times of Climate Change below.

New Trend Papers!

Publicly Engaged Scholarship in the Humanities, Arts, and Design by Jamie Haft

Through the lens of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, the only national coalition working explicitly at the nexus of publicly engaged scholarship and the humanities, arts, and design, author Jamie Haft exemplifies the range of work as it is practiced through courses, projects, programs, centers, institutes, and institutionwide initiatives. Haft describes barriers that must be overcome for the “somewhat idiosyncratic array of scholarly and creative activities to coalesce into a movement capable of helping solve the most serious problems our communities, nation, and world now face,” and offers recommendations to begin to set such change in motion.

The Spirit of Sovereignty Woven into the Fabric of Tribal Communities: Culture Bearers as Agents of Change by Lori Pourier

This paper by Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota) describes how asset-based organizing in Native communities and nations focuses on cultural renewal as essential for creating systemic change. It provides context for a recent rebirth within Indian country regarding the role ancient traditions and teachings play in rebuilding tribal nations. It portrays individual culture bearers from Native Alaskan and Indian Nations who, not only preserve, teach, and pass on ancient traditions, but also, in the spirit of their ancestors, have become agents of change.

Echoes of the Earth in Times of Climate Change: Native American Artists’ and Culture Bearers’ Knowledge and Perspectives by Edward Wemytewa

Native American artists and culture bearers brought Indigenous perspectives and critical voices to pressing issues of the environment at the April 2012 conference, Echoes of the Earth in Times of Climate Change, sponsored by the Seventh Generation Fund and Hopa Mountain. In Echoes of the Earth in Times of Climate Change: Native American Artists’ and Culture Bearers’ Knowledge and Perspectives, artist, writer, and activist Edward Wemytewa (Zuni) eloquently captures the perspectives of Native leaders and culture bearers as they look to their cultural heritage and wisdom—sacred ceremony; ancient languages; prophesy; and hallmarks of mutuality, reciprocity, and responsibility—for ways to regain the delicate ecological balance of the earth.

Calls for Proposals & Feedback

Seeking Examples of Innovative Approaches to Data Collection, Evaluation, and Communication
Tentative Deadline: July 2, 2012

Animating Democracy’s May 2012 blog salon on evaluating the social impact of the arts provided interesting examples of how organizations are increasingly able to capture data and evaluate their work. A common theme among the blog contributors was that the artistic process could be used to enliven and strengthen this type of documentation and evaluation.

To extend this conversation, we are seeking your examples of creative approaches to 1) documentation and data collection, 2) evaluation, and 3) communication strategies. How are the arts being used to document (video, photography, visual art, participation, etc.)? In what innovative ways are creative practices (storytelling, PhotoVoice, Playback Theater, etc.) adding value to standard evaluation techniques such as surveys or focus groups. And, how are artistic techniques contributing to communication strategies about the impact of this work in reports, media, and websites? Strong examples will be added to the growing body of resources on the IMPACT part of Animating Democracy’s website.

Send your on-the-ground stories, examples, and creative evaluation tools to Animating Democracy Program Coordinator Joanna Chin at

New Publications and Resources

HOT OFF THE PRESSES! Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S., edited by Doug Borwick

Building Communities, Not Audiences identifies the factors that serve to isolate established arts organizations from their communities, points out the trends that loom as imminent threats to the long-term viability of the artistic status quo, and presents principles and mechanisms whereby arts organizations can significantly extend their reach into the community, supporting enhanced sustainability. Included are case studies and examples of successful community engagement work being conducted by arts organizations from across the United States. Twenty-three contributors, representing chamber music, dance, museums, opera, orchestras, and theaters as well as an array of arts administration perspectives provide breadth of coverage.

The book includes forewords by President and CEO of Americans for the Arts Robert L. Lynch and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Rocco Landesman.

Events on the Horizon

Participate in the National Center for Civic and Human Rights Groundbreaking Ceremony
June 27, 2012

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) invites you to play a virtual role in their groundbreaking ceremony which will take place June 27, 2012.

NCCHR is creating a brief video to symbolically demonstrate how the Center will help connect the world’s civil and human rights leaders for thought-provoking dialogue and interactive exhibits that bridge global gaps. A link to the video will be sent to global media outlets, posted on Facebook and YouTube, and incorporated into our ongoing marketing efforts. The theme is “Today, we make history."

All you need to participate is a cell phone or Flip Cam that captures video and an Internet connection. If you’re willing to participate, all we need right now is your name, e-mail, and a mailing address. You will receive a brief set of specific instructions and a branded construction hard hat (via U.S. mail or UPS) for use in the video after confirming your participation. The package will include brief talking points and video upload instructions.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Director of Communications and Marketing Isha Lee (

Reserve Your Spot for Sojourn Theatre's Summer Workshop, Devising Civic Theatre: Performance, Social Practice & Dialogue
August 4–6
Silver Spring, MD

Taking place in the Forum Theatre/Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, MD, this training is geared toward artists working in theater, education, and community settings. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the techniques and strategies Sojourn Theatre Artistic Director Michael Rohd uses in collaborative work with groups in a variety of settings to:

  • devise performance material,
  • build partnerships with non-arts sector civic collaborators,
  • examine the potential of site-based and participatory activity, and
  • explore social and political issues through collaborative conceptual, improvisational, and physical investigations.

The fee for the workshop is $160. It is limited to 30 participants. To register, please visit

For information, please e-mail

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