Animating Democracy February 2013 E-News
What Do These Experiences All Have in Common?

They are part of the bounty of art and community experiences and dialogues of the Network of Ensemble TheatersMicroFest USA. Part festival, part learning exchange, part celebration, MicroFest is shining a light on a spectrum of cultural production that is traditionally under the radar of official creative placemaking strategies. It considers human, moral, and cultural  economies, as well as economic realities of places hard hit by social, environmental, economic, and other issues—Detroit; Harlan, KY; Knoxville, TN; New Orleans; and (coming up) Honolulu.

Animating Democracy is thrilled to be partnering with NET to curate writings by artists, activists, journalists, cultural leaders, and community developers who challenge assumptions, bring local and national perspectives and context, and offer new grist for discourse about what the work looks like, what makes the work work, and how art impacts place and place impacts art.

Check out provocative essays on Detroit by Michael Premo and Eddie B. Allen; on Appalachia by Mark Kidd, Gerard Stropnicky, and Caron Atlas; and watch for upcoming essays on New Orleans by Carol Bebelle and Erik Takeshita; and more from Gerard Stropnicky.

Photo credits (left to right): Matrix Theater Company performing in The Alley Project Gallery, Detroit ; video introduction to Higher Ground; Cry You One, a work in progress by Arts Spot Productions and Mondo Bizarro.
Animating Democracy News

Launching SPECIAL COLLECTIONS with the Art + Economic Justice Special Collection!

The relationship of art and economics is continuously evolving, and the recent economic downturn has provoked and heightened social inequalities. New artwork and movements have emerged to fight for change and chronicle this upheaval.

The Art and Economic Justice collection features projects from Animating Democracy's Profiles as well as new work of the 99% Movement. These projects range from a conversation on art and economic theory to theater productions that inspire audiences to think critically and act on social inequities. We invite you to peruse the projects featured here that delve into an array of issues from a variety of perspectives.

NEW Trend Paper: Participatory Art-Making and Civic Engagement

There is a growing trend among innovative organizations to use participatory art-making programs to increase civic engagement, due to the wide variety of positive outcomes such programs engender. Participatory art-making experiences can have a profound impact on communities. They can build social networks, encourage new leaders, increase the quality of community life, enhance the lives of individuals, and engage citizens in new and profound ways.

The latest trend paper from Animating Democracy, Participatory Art-Making and Civic Engagement, researched and written by urban planner Ferdinand Lewis on behalf of The Music Center/Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, gives three case examples to illustrate the many ways in which active art-making can enliven, enhance, and enrich communities.

What We're Reading

Reverberations from Animating Democracy’s December Blog Salon: Does Size Matter?

Community Development consultant Michael Hickey gives his smart and challenging perspective on what scale really means and why it “sometimes, well, stinks up the joint” in a two-part miniseries originally posted on his site,

The (In)Efficiencies of Scale (Part One)

The (In)Efficiencies of Scale (Part Two)

Projects We're Watching

Creative Capital Award Winning Project: Sleepover

Gregory Sale was just awarded a Creative Capital award for his 2013 project, Sleepover, which grapples with the challenges of individuals reentering society after periods of incarceration. Working in Phoenix, AZ, with former convicts, their families, crime victims, criminal justice workers, public and faith-based service providers, advocates, philanthropists, and politicians, he will convene a series of interrelated discussions and engagement activities, including an overnight stay together at an art museum. A core group of diverse stakeholders will work together over time in shared, intimate spaces to reconsider their understandings of re-entry and their relationships to one another. Sleepover aims to encourage participants to dream together in order to find ways to create goals that recode identities, deepen community relations, enable civic discourse, and rethink public policy.

To find out more about Sale’s work, visit

Innovating Healthcare Project: Literature and Medicine

Developed by the Maine Humanities Council, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care™ is a workplace program that gives people involved in the delivery of healthcare an opportunity to come together and reflect on their roles as healthcare providers through the medium of literature.

Participants attend a series of six monthly discussions, held at the host hospital and facilitated by a scholar, in which they explore works of fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction that illuminate issues central to caring for people, whether they are well, sick, or dying. These programs help doctors, nurses, community health workers, policymakers, hospital trustees, and allied staff to reflect on and better understand the complex nature of their daily work and their responsibilities to their patients and their colleagues. The program has been offered, with great success, in more than 100 hospitals throughout the nation, including nine in Massachusetts.

Connections & Opportunities

Check Out Public Interest Design Week!
University of Minnesota, College of Design
March 19-24, 2013

This spring, March 19-24, 2013, the University of Minnesota, College of Design will host a first-of-its-kind Public Interest Design Week, the headline event of which is the 13th international Structures for Inclusion conference. The week will attract an array of people and groups working at the intersection of design and service. Collectively reflect on the state of the public interest design field, imagine a vision for the future, and hone the skills needed to make that vision a reality.

Apply for School for Creative Activism Workshops

The Center for Artistic Activism has opened applications for its third year of School for Creative Activism Workshops, to be held in the Spring and Summer of 2013. The School for Creative Activism is a participatory workshop infusing community organizing and civic engagement with culture and creativity. Because of support from the Open Societies Foundation’s Democracy and Power Fund, this workshop is entirely free of cost for three select groups of U.S.-based activists. For more information, visit

Build More Effective Communications: Cultural Strategies for Social Justice
Center for Media Justice
Friday, February 15, 2013
9:00 a.m. (PT)/12:00 p.m. (ET)

The communications clinic on Cultural Strategies for Social Justice will focus on developing effective cultural communications organizing strategies that can move frames, shift narratives, and break down ideologies that traditionally inform and maintain systems of racial injustice and oppression of low-income communities and people of color. Join practitioner Favianna Rodriguez for a free 60-minute, telephone-based group coaching session on developing effective cultural communications for social justice.

With support from the
Ford Foundation
Washington, DC Office
1000 Vermont Avenue NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
T 202.371.2830 | F 202.371.0424
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New York, NY 10022
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