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

Beyond Good Intentions: Public Art Practices for Achieving Civic Engagement & Social Change
Thursday, July 19 at 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Register Now

Because of the popularity of the social engagement session at the 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention Public Art Preconference, we are offering the opportunity to continue the conversation with this webinar. Outstanding speakers from the preconference session will be joined by new voices to discuss strategic and tactical approaches for engaging communities and how public art programs can support artists who do socially engaged work. Special guests include artists Carroll Parrott Blue from Houston, TX and Arianna Jacob from Portland, OR and Public Art Manager at Oregon’s Regional Arts & Cultural Commission Peggy Kendellen. Americans for the Arts Public Art Program Manager Liesel Fenner will moderate this interactive session.

We hope you will join us for this exciting conversation! To register, please visit the Americans for the Arts webinar page or click here.

Website Highlight: Allied Media Conference (AMC)

The 14th Annual Allied Media Conference was held June 28–July 1 in Detroit, MI. This annual gathering of the grassroots media movement brings together those working at the cutting edge of social justice-based independent film, radio, print, web, music, and youth organizing. Participants engage in hands-on trainings and strategy sessions in a wide range of media practices.

To learn more about AMC, check out its profile at

News from the Field

Award-Winning Film: Acting Together on the World Stage

Acting Together on the World Stage, a documentary produced by Cynthia Cohen and Allison Lund, was named a winner at the 33rd Annual Telly Awards, which honors the very best film and video productions. “The film highlights the power of performance to support communities to speak truth to power, to build bridges across differences, and to address painful historical legacies,” Cohen said.

Acting Together, a collaboration between Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program and Theatre Without Borders, has been exploring this terrain for the past seven years. The project documents peace-building performance, highlighting artists, peace builders, and community leaders from every continent whose rituals and theatrical works speak truth to power and support communities to mourn losses and build bridges across differences. Since it was released in July 2011, Acting Together on the World Stage has been screened in more than 15 countries, on every continent, and in community and university settings throughout the United States.

Watch the preview!

Jan Cohen-Cruz Receives Award for Leadership in Community-Based Theatre and Civic Engagement

On August 2, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) will honor Jan Cohen-Cruz with the prestigious Award for Leadership in Community-Based Theatre and Civic Engagement.  Jan Cohen-Cruz is a scholar, practitioner, and teacher of grassroots, socially grounded, and activist art, and until June of this year, served as Director of Imagining America, a consortium of universities and organizations dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts, and design. Jan will be recognized at a ceremony during the 2012 ATHE Conference in Washington, DC at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Sonja Kuftinec, Imagining America National Advisory Board member and professor of theatre at the University of Minnesota, worked to nominate Jan for the award by reaching out to a wide circle of colleagues. Read Sonja’s reflections on Cohen-Cruz’s influence on the field of arts-based community engagement.

New Publications and Resources

New Publication Showcases Leadership in Expanding Audience Engagement

Partners for Livable Communities and MetLife Foundation are pleased to announce the release of the 2012 publication Stories for Change: Leadership Examples of Expanding the Arts to New Audiences.

Immigrants and older adults are two rapidly expanding populations in the United States. New immigrants and older adults have unique values, economic resources, and varying assets and challenges. Arts and culture organizations have remarkable tools to engage these populations through meaningful outreach while simultaneously contributing to organizational sustainability.

Stories for Change is a compendium of nearly 50 best practices that showcases the notable strategies increasing access to the arts and culture for new audiences. Stories for Change broadens the scope of Partners' 2011 report Culture Connects All: Rethinking Audiences in Times of Demographic Change. This compelling collection is brimming with new ideas brought to fruition by many types of organizations, such as museums, libraries, community development organizations, theaters, orchestras, dance ensembles, area agencies on aging, transportation bureaus, parks, botanic gardens, and universities.

An accompanying PowerPoint presentation is available for download to share the great stories of innovation and creativity presented in the publication with your community.

Blog Post by Michael Rohd on The New Work of Building Civic Practice

Check out Michael Rohd’s blog post where he writes about theater as civic practice, framing the possibilities of an artist using his/her craft in response to the needs of (a) non-arts partner(s) through ongoing, relationship-based dialogue.

Here’s a little snippet:

Producing new work for/in the theater does not have to only mean making new plays. It can mean producing new relationships, producing new forms of events and processes, producing new ways of crossing disciplinary and sector boundaries.

For the full post, go to

Civic Engagement in the 2012 Public Art Network Year in Review

Check out the final list for the 2012 Public Art Network Year in Review, a program that recognizes outstanding public art projects, which is available on CD-ROM! Notable art and community engagement projects selected included Out the Window where one million daily LA bus riders were treated to 125 community video portraits celebrating the people, places, and things about their city created by youth and artists.

The CD-ROM includes a PowerPoint presentation, a project list and data, a script with project descriptions, and more than 300 project jpeg images. To view the Year in Review presentation by curators Jean Greer, Daniel Mihalyo, and Celia Munoz, order Convention On-Demand, which also includes main convention sessions.

Calls for Proposals

Americans for the Arts and Ovation Launch Grant Opportunity!
Deadline: July 31, 2012

Americans for the Arts and Ovation have developed the innOVATION Grant Program to fund and recognize the impact of artists and the arts in communities' revitalization efforts. Three $25,000 innOVATION grants and two $10,000 innOVATION grants will be awarded through a panel review process. Communities will also compete for a Viewers' Choice Award of $15,000 at

*Applicants must be an Americans for the Arts Organizational Member. Click here for more information.

National Endowment for the Arts Art Works Grants
Deadline: August 9, 2012

The NEA Art Works grants aim to support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. Within these areas, innovative projects are strongly encouraged. Grants generally range from $10,000–$100,000. For guidelines, please visit

Events on the Horizon

Requiem for a Lost Girl: A Chamber Musical about Homelessness
July 17, 8:00 p.m./July 18, 1:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m.
New York City

In New York City today, 38,000 people are homeless and using the shelter system on any given night. 16,000 of them are children. Exploring themes of poverty, mental illness, and addiction, Requiem for a Lost Girl, an original chamber musical, unfolds as a memorial service for a young woman. Requiem was created and is performed in partnership with a chorus of men, women, and children who know the experience of homelessness; a raw, gorgeous, and heart-altering blend of true stories and the theatrical that gives voice to the streets of North America.

This production is presented by the New York Musical Theatre Festival and was made possible through collaboration with the Youth Shelter Covanent house; adults, youth, and children from Henry Street Settlement; and members of Fountain House.

More information and tickets are available at

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