Animating Democracy E-News - Animating Democracy May 2009 E-News (Plain Text Version)

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Animating Democracy News and Updates

Animating Democracy staff news
After six years as a key member of the Animating Democracy team, we are sad to announce that Michael del Vecchio will be leaving us, but thrilled he will be venturing into a new creative frontier. In June, Michael will become Creative Director for Universal Yarn, working as a designer of Universal’s yarns, fibers, color palettes, and patterns. His new job involves international travel, in addition to national travel to market Universal’s lines. This new opportunity continues Michael’s freelance work in the yarn and craft industry, which includes the 2006 release of his book, Knitting with Balls; designs and articles published in magazines; and editing and consulting work with yarn companies, magazines, and individual designers. In June, he will move to Charlotte, NC.

Michael arrived in 2003 as we were preparing for Animating Democracy’s National Conference on Arts & Civic Dialogue. Since then, he has played an invaluable role in expanding and managing the website, producing books and other resources, issuing the monthly E-News, contributing to program research and evaluation, administering grants and contracts, coordinating meetings, and providing leadership for the Civic Engagement Track for the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention. Michael’s organizational expertise, creative contributions, and good humor have helped Animating Democracy chart new paths. We are going to miss him!

Individuals interested in applying for the job of Program Coordinator, Animating Democracy should direct inquiries to Human Resources through the online application system located at Upload your cover letter, resume, references, and salary requirements through the system. If you experience technical difficulties with the online application system, please clear your browser's cache and/or turn off your pop-up blocker application. Americans for the Arts is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates.

Joyce Foundation renews support for Americans for the Arts Professional Development Fellowships for Great Lakes area Arts Leaders of Color
Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce that the Joyce Foundation of Chicago has renewed its support for Americans for the Arts Professional Development Fund. A total of 10 Joyce Fellows—emerging arts leaders of color from the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota)—will be selected to receive $3,000 each to support attendance at the Americans for the Arts signature national conferences beginning with the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) in the fall of 2009. Five fellows will be selected in 2009 and five more in 2010. Fellows will also attend Arts advocacy Day in Washington, DC, and the 2010 Annual Convention in Baltimore. They will have special opportunities to meet with field leaders, work with mentors, and receive individualized career coaching.

Additional information about this new initiative will be available June 20, 2009, on the Americans for the Arts website. For further information, contact Animating Democracy Co-Director Barbara Schaffer Bacon, via e-mail at or by phone at 413.253.1711.

Animating Democracy in Detroit for Community Arts Initiative
This month, Animating Democracy Co-Directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza met with Detroit artists, community partners, civic leaders, and funders to conduct a midpoint assessment of the community + public art: Detroit (CPAD) initiative. CPAD is a joint venture of The Skillman Foundation, the College of Creative Studies, the Kresge Foundation, and The JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Community arts are proving to be a potent force in neighborhood development in Detroit. Through CPAD, Detroit artists work closely with neighborhood leaders and youth in conceiving and creating art that is meaningful to them, meets community needs, and draws on the assets and imaginations of residents and neighborhoods. In 2008, seven public artworks were created that have already had transformative effects for public spaces, engaging community people and fostering pride and neighborhood identity. CPAD promotes neighborhood and youth development through community-based art activity in the six targeted neighborhoods participating in the Skillman Foundation’s Good Neighborhoods program.

In addition to assessment interviews and focus groups, Schaffer Bacon facilitated an exchange for neighborhood organizers, residents, and civic leaders to explore strategies for effectively working with artists and engaging neighborhood residents. Korza presented at an evening public forum to put into national context recent community and public art projects completed through CPAD. At the same forum, Detroit artists Mary Laredo-Herbeck and Hubert Massey along with Sioux Trujillo of the College for Creative Studies discussed artworks completed as part of CPAD. Special guest artists from the Chicago Public Art Group, Juan Carlos Perez and Damon Reed, showed that group’s public artworks. Perez and Reed also offered a workshop on bricolage for Detroit artists. These activities were jointly developed by Animating Democracy and the College for Creative Studies.Schaffer Bacon and Korza were also guest presenters at a meeting of the Arts Affinity Group of the Council of Michigan Foundations along with Executive Director of Grantmakers in the Arts Janet Brown.

Americans for the Arts 2009 Convention: Audio blogs available online
Renewable Resources: Arts in Sustainable Communities will convene arts and cultural professionals from across the country in Seattle to network and participate in more than 75 field-crafted sessions—plus the opportunity to see the Public Art Year in Review and hear from keynote speakers.

New online! Check out the first in a series of audio blogs which feature session speakers. South Park PhotoVoice, a program of Youth in Focus in Seattle, presents community members’ daily lives and needs through photography and writing in order to strengthen community and generate dialogue on local issues. In this conversation with Antoinette Angulo, Program Manager at Sea Mar Community Health Center and Irene Gomez, Project Manager in the City of Seattle, hear about what the some of the immediate and unexpected impacts of the project, as well as the ways in which a diverse group of partners worked together to develop and implement the project. Listen online!

The advance registration deadline has been extended to this Friday, May 29. Check out the convention homepage for full details on the program and how to register. And keep an eye on the Americans for the Arts blog for the next installment of the Civic Engagement track audio blog, featuring Cassie Chinn from the Wing Luke Asian Museum.

National Arts Policy Roundtable recommendations available online
The 2008 National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual forum of Americans for the Arts and the Sundance Preserve, examined important and timely opportunities for the arts to promote civic engagement toward building healthy communities and a healthy democracy. The Roundtable convened 29 leaders from business, government, philanthropy, education, and the arts.

Policy recommendations—designed to ensure a vital civic role for the arts in regard to cross-sector alliances, policies and investment, research and evaluation, and messaging and case-making—have been released on the Americans for the Arts website in the form of a 27-page report about the roundtable. Participants declared that in order to create the society we envision, it is important for citizens and the public- and private-sectors to work together in support of “advancing a cultural climate in which civic life may thrive.” Readers will find related strategies for advancing work across many sectors.

The annual National Arts Policy Roundtable is the culminating event of a year-long discussion with experts and stakeholders and research on the topic by Americans for the Arts. Through generous funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, leaders on the issue from Public Agenda, American Public Media, and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) worked closely with this year’s Roundtable in helping to bring different perspectives and shed new light on the topic.

News from the Field

Seats of Power in Brisbane, CA
How far will city officials in Brisbane, CA, go to support the arts? Artist and activist Beth Grossman convinced the Brisbane mayor, city council, police commander, fire chief, and harbormaster, among others, to immortalize their derrieres as Seats of Power. While capturing the impression of participants’ pants sitting on their chairs, Grossman came to appreciate Brisbane officials from a perspective different from that of the council chambers or City Hall offices. “We’ve had some good laughs and the puns keep flying,” says Grossman. “Laughter has been a segue into more serious discussions about the nature of political power.” The resulting photo images were later converted into textiles and upholstered onto chair seats.

At the opening reception of the exhibition in mid-March, citizens were invited to City Hall and had the opportunity to sit in the “hot seat.” There, they could contemplate and expound on the nature of politics and power. Public comments were recorded and will be incorporated into a film by documentary filmmaker David L. Brown.

Los Angeles Poverty Department receives 2009 Otto Award for Political Theatre
In May, Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), alongside other theater organizations including Appalshop’s Roadside Theater and California’s Teatro Visíon, were awarded the 2009 Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre. Established in 1998 and named for the Guatemalan poet and revolutionary Otto Rene Castillo—murdered in 1968 by the Guatemalan military regime—the Otto Awards honor accomplished, dedicated, and diverse artists and theater companies who conceive, produce, and foster the development of innovative and socially challenging theater. Previous winners have included El Teatro Campesino, The Living Theatre, Laurie Anderson, the Steppenwolf Theatre, Bread and Puppet Theatre, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. (Thanks, Community Arts Network).

Artist Mandy Greer explores water use in Seattle through crochet
This summer, Seattle-based artist Mandy Greer is seeking to celebrate Seattle’s urban creeks and encourage stewardship of watersheds through a new public art project featuring crochet. Through ongoing participatory events through June, Greer teaches local residents to crochet toward the creation of long swaths of blue crocheted fabric. When finished, the temporary art project will culminate in a performance produced by Greer with choreographer and dancer Zoe Scofield. "I want to make a space for a dialogue, allowing people to tap into their emotional memories of water and their desires and frustrations concerning our relationship to the environment," said Greer in an artist statement. "Our hands will be knotting together ideas as we ask ourselves, 'what has happened to our sense of the sacred quality of water?'"

Experience Greer’s project at the Americans for the Arts Convention, June 18–20, in Seattle at the Knitting and Networking, Craft and Conversation event on June 19 at 7:00 p.m.  [return to top]

Articles and Publications

New on the Community Arts Network: CANtv
The newest feature on the Community Arts Network (CAN), CANtv, highlights some of the interesting community-arts related videos that are shared between community arts professionals. Several videos are already available for review online—including a short piece from Liz Lerman reviewing the accessibility of her work and her methodology, an interview with Arlene Goldbard on the essential roles artists and cultural activists are ready to play in cultural recovery, and a re-post of an interview with the late Augusto Boal and Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman.

New from Kumarian Press: Building Peace: Practical Reflections from the Field
Even though international peace-building has rapidly expanded in the last two decades to respond to more multifaceted and complex conflicts, the field has lagged behind in documenting the impact and success of projects. To help address this gap, the Alliance for Peacebuilding in collaboration with Kumarian Press has assembled 13 stories of innovative peace-building practices from around the world in Building Peace, a new volume edited by Craig Zelizer and Robert A. Rubinstein. The projects featured are diverse in nature, and each demonstrates the significant impact of peace-building work. Readers should be sure to check out “Recasting Reconciliation through Culture and the Arts”—an exploration of The Brandeis University International Fellowship Program.  [return to top]

Events on the Horizon

Penumbra Theatre’s Summer Institute
Dates: July 6–August 2, 2009
Saint Paul, MN
Penumbra Theatre’s Summer Institute, a four-week theater training program for students ages 13–18, invites participants to learn about the ways in which social justice and responsible civic action are essential to artistic practice. Professional artists work alongside participants to build community, challenge ideas, and explore the possibilities for performance.

To apply, submit an application online. Deadline for applications is May 29, 2009.

NCA-MetLife Foundation Creativity Matters: Civic Engagement Symposium
Date: June 15, 2009
San Francisco
The NCCA-MetLife Foundation Creativity Matters: Civic Engagement Symposium, hosted by the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), will feature an overview of the connection between civic engagement and aging. Symposium sessions will include a review of recent research including “Above Ground” which explores the ways in which the older artist population embraces living and how it has implications for the rest of the aging population; and “Beyond Bingo”, a study which connects professionally directed community-based arts programs and the health of older people. In addition, participants will experience NCCA’s Intergenerational Artist Training workshop: Youth and Adult Ageline Across Cultures presented by Susan Perlstein, Founder and Director of Elders Share the Arts and NCCA.

For more information on registration or programming, e-mail or call 202.895.9456.

CollaborAction: Arts Marketing, Sponsorship, and Fundraising Strategies That Work!
National Arts Marketing Project Conference
Dates: October 30–November 2, 2009
Providence, RI
Release your inner superhero! In today’s troubled times, it’s more important than ever that you not hide behind a secret identity. Learn how you can save the day when it comes to marketing, sponsorship, and fundraising! Join your super colleagues at the 2009 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Providence, RI, October 30–November 2, 2009.

CollaborAction: Arts Marketing, Sponsorship, and Fundraising Strategies That Work! will feature dozens of sessions, keynote and plenary speakers, and roundtable discussions providing you with concrete tools to make CollaborAction happen in your day-to-day work. And you’ll take part in a number of power networking opportunities for you and your colleagues to strategize the defeat of the marketer’s and fundraiser’s worst enemy—the dreaded arch villain Status Quo.

Join us in Providence for CollaborAction and help your organization face challenges and make the most of opportunities in this economic climate. Register today for the early-bird discount for and other ways to save!  [return to top]

About Animating Democracy

Animating Democracy is a four-year initiative of Americans for the Arts and is made possible with support from the Ford Foundation.

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