Share this:
Brandeis University | International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life
Peacebuilding and the Arts: Exploring the contributions of arts and culture to peace
Notes from the Assistant Director
July 2020

Dear friends of Brandeis’ Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts (PBA),

Artists and cultural workers throughout the world are using their creative visions to transcend the callous present, bearing witness to longstanding injustices and helping us imagine alternatives. In response to the police murder of George Floyd in the U.S. and state violence more broadly, they are ushering in a kind of resistance, shoring up the future against the racially-motivated aggression and physical brutality of today. In this issue of Peacebuilding and the Arts Now we acknowledge these expressions of art and other aspects of culture in myriad places across the globe, as they, in some ways, we hope, lead us to a more just tomorrow.
Jane Sapp, an artist and cultural worker beloved by PBA and beyond, spoke to PBA Director Cynthia Cohen about her repertoire of songs in light of the current global push for racial justice. A video podcast series, created from that interview, includes recordings of the songs she references as she reflects on this moment in history. “Let’s not tiptoe around it. Let’s not… give half voice to it. Let’s give full voice to this time and to the change that can happen,” she says, as she reminds us that her music has always been about building community and agitating something “inside people.” Her songs, and songs connected to social justice movements in general, “also invite other[s]… to join with [us]…”
This issue includes, as well, insights shared by more than 700 people from six continents who participated in an April 2020 virtual Learning Exchange developed and offered by IMPACT (Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation, an initiative of Brandeis’ Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts), including their perspectives on art and conflict transformation during the pandemic. Another virtual Learning Exchange, with a spotlight on creative approaches to gender-based violence across Africa, will take place in September.
IMPACT is proud to be collaborating with the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival in Cyprus on an innovative “Thinking Partners” program. Included here is an announcement about this partnership, and an invitation to learn more about the 2020 Festival whose theme is “Displacement.”
Be sure to check out the “Upcoming Events” section of this newsletter for details regarding programs on the horizon. In “Resources and Announcements” you’ll learn about a new theater and peacebuilding initiative in Liberia, and a statement of commitment in solidarity with Black Lives Matter released by Brandeis University’s Minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation, among other things.
We know that your invaluable on-the-ground work continues, often against great odds, and at considerable risk – of violence, trauma, exhaustion, and more -- as you shift consciousness and build systems and societies of equity, dignity and peace. Thank you.
Do take care,

Toni Shapiro-Phim, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts and Associate Professor, Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation

Arts, Artists and Demands for Racial Justice
Kambui Olujimi, The 3rd Precinct Burns in Minneapolis (2020). Image courtesy the artist (source: newsartnet).
Here we offer links to a small selection --  out of numerous examples -- of potent creative responses and calls to action. Please note that some include depictions and descriptions of violations of dignity, bodies, communities and lives.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 
“Our voices ring loudly through our bodies’ language.” Text written and performed by Hope Boykin.

Kadir Nelson’s “Say Their Names”
The New Yorker
“A closeup examination of the artist’s latest cover, in which the murder of George Floyd embodies the history of violence inflicted upon black people in America.”

5 artworks by Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian artists inspired by George Floyd: 'we are watching'
The National
“As I saw him choking underneath the officer's knee, I couldn't help but think of the Syrian children who have died of chemical attacks. They were also choking.”

Haka for George Floyd & Black Lives Matter | honored by Maori's Haka
Viral News
“George Floyd & Black Lives Matter were honored by Maori's Haka” in New Zealand.
‘Their Stories Should be Told Right’: How Museums are Documenting the Protests
The Guardian
“From collecting and storing placards to recording oral histories from those who were there, museums across America are archiving a vital moment from history.”

Daveed Diggs Asks: “What to My People is the Fourth of July?”
“Amidst the national uprising against racist violence, [actor, rapper and singer] Daveed Diggs demands we ask what the Fourth of July means to Black people in America right now.”
'Art Can Touch Our Emotional Core.' 
Time Magazine
Among others featured, Palestinian-American Shirien Damra “turned to this form of commemoration in order to spread awareness in a way that avoided sharing videos that she said can be ‘traumatic and triggering’… Damra adds that one thing artists can do is help illustrate what comes next.”

‘This Is a Revolution’: 18 Artists From Coast to Coast Share What They Saw and Felt at the George Floyd Protests
“In New York, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, artists were among those in the streets. Here are their stories.”

A Public Art Project Devoted to Dismantling Racism at Every Level
The New York Times Style Magazine
“But how can Black artists, inevitably tasked with putting words and images to American brutality and injustice, reposition the burden to end racism by placing it where it should be — on white individuals?” 
With Monuments Falling All Over Europe, We Asked Historians and Artists to Weigh in on How They Should Be Replaced
“Experts say there are no easy answers.”

See tributes to George Floyd painted on walls worldwide 
“Street artists from… England to Syria are honoring George Floyd in their own colorful ways by painting murals to express solidarity with the African-American community in the US.”

'Am I A Man' by dancers Jon Boogz & Lil Buck with narration by Bryan Stevenson
Emerson Collective
“We cannot undo the historical terrors of slavery and mass incarceration [in the U.S.], but through continued action we can create a justice system that finally lives up to its name.”

Read the full list of artistic responses.

Songs of Resistance and Hope:
A video podcast by Jane Wilburn Sapp, singer, songwriter, cultural activist and educator

Jane Sapp believes that songs communicate ideas in ways that can move people to act on their visions for the world. Songs can plant seeds in our collective memory and energize movements for social justice. They have the ability to give voice to a moral conscience and a moral imagination.

In the eight episodes of Songs of Resistance and Hope, Jane Sapp offers specific songs to the current movement for racial justice. They were produced by Armine Avetisyan and the Brandeis Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, in partnership with ReCAST, Inc. Piano scores, stories, Jane’s theories of social change, and more songs can be found in her book Let’s Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp, available through her website

Imagining Together/Acting Together: IMPACT's April Learning Exchange Overview
Haga clic para la versión en español.

In partnership with Peace Direct, IMPACT hosted Imagining Together/Acting Together, a 48-hour virtual Learning Exchange conducted in both English and Spanish. The exchange was co-convened by seven organizations: Artasfoundation, Crear Vale la Pena, Fundación Cambio Democrático (FCD), Humanity United (HU), Free Culture Invisible, International Community Arts Festival (ICAF), International Teaching Artist Collaborative (ITAC); with the help of seven additional partners: Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College, DAH Theatre, Howlround Theatre Commons, Maasai Mara University, Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, Theatre Without Borders, and Visual Art Network of South Africa (VANSA). It attracted 729 participants from more than 56 countries. Participants included artists, cultural workers, NGO leaders, peacebuilding scholars and practitioners, funders and policy-makers, all engaged in work at the nexus of arts, culture and conflict transformation. Eighty-five people served as facilitators, each working one or more two-hour shifts.
The purpose of the Learning Exchange was to connect people from regions around the world in “conversations” about core concepts in the conflict transformation field, such as resistance, re-humanization and reconciliation. In addition, it created opportunities for exchange about a framework new to many in the field -- re-enchantment -- and about the pandemic and its effects on the arts, culture and conflict transformation ecosystem. 

Read more about the Learning Exchange.
Banja Conteh (left), elder and teacher of the Busumbala Sanjonding Kañeleng Association, Kombo St. Mary, Gambia, with Oumie Ceesay (right), Banja Conteh's mentee.
Photo by Buba Saho.
Creative Responses to Gender-Based Violence in Africa
September 3 and 4, 2020

A virtual Learning Exchange on Creative Responses to Gender-Based Violence in Africa will be held on September 3rd and 4th, 2020. Organised by a Core Team of artists, activists and scholars from Senegal, Kenya and South Africa and IMPACT’s Learning Exchange team, this event seeks to foster a dialogue between practitioners in arts, culture and conflict transformation across the African continent with a focus on gender-based violence, gender justice and women’s rights.
The Learning Exchange will be conducted in French and English through Platform4Dialogue - the online platform of the UK-based peacebuilding organization Peace Direct. The Core Team is building collaboration with relevant institutions, artistic groups, and activists, designing an inclusive conversation exploring the role of arts and culture in addressing gender-based violence. 

Participants from Africa and the global Diaspora, in their own time zones, will have an opportunity to contribute their thoughts in writing to prompts, questions and each other’s responses regarding arts, activism, indigenous approaches, and care; different ways through which gender-based violence manifests; patriarchy and women’s rights; and complexities of cultural approaches.

Stay tuned for details in early August!

Read more about the upcoming Exchange and the Core Team.
Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival Collaboration with IMPACT
The Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival partners with IMPACT for the year 2020
The Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival is an annual festival emerging from within the Buffer Zone of Nicosia, Cyprus. It aims to showcase new and experimental work by Cyprus-based and international artists, to challenge physical and artistic barriers and borders, and to create opportunities for artists to meet and exchange ideas.
The 2020 Festival, rising to the challenges set forth by the COVID-19 crisis and prioritizing financial and creative support of artists, will host (virtually and/or in person) groups of artists and interactive installations that will explore this year’s Festival topic, “Displacement,” through various innovative means and approaches.
Thanks to a valuable partnership with IMPACT (Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation, currently based at the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University, USA), the Festival will implement its first-ever “Thinking Partners” initiative, which entails the targeted matching of participating artists with a Thinking Partner, who will have an advisory role. Working in close contact with the artists to generate critical discussion around the artistic practice itself and the arts, culture and conflict transformation field in general, the Thinking Partner – who might come from any field of expertise relevant to the artists’ exploration -- will contribute to the artists’ conceptual and/or creative process, by offering new, distinctive perspectives and ideas, and by further connecting them to the global arts and conflict transformation ecosystem.
Read more about the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival.
Upcoming Events
Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) 
"Now, more than ever, artists are putting their lives on the line. As COVID-19 rages across the globe, authoritarian regimes are taking advantage of emergency powers to crackdown on dissent, often under the guise of 'disinformation.' At the same time, social movements calling for change gather momentum, leading to ever more hostility from those in power...." Read related press releases and check out ARC's new webinar series "Art on Lockdown," where members of the artistic freedom community discuss the challenges their communities face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inviting Imagination: Art and Education 

Seeds of Peace
"On July 27th-30th, Seeds of Peace is inviting you to be part of a unique week of creativity for American educators, Inviting Imagination: Art and Education, which is part of the Seeds of Peace online initiative, Educating in a Diverse Democracy: Challenges and Possibilities. The week of creativity will kick off on Monday, July 27th, from 12:00 to 2:00, EST, with a session led by the visual artist Hanoch Piven, and the singer and multi-media artist, Mira Awad. It will continue for the rest of the week with a process led by Micah Hendler and Austin Willacy. Throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to express and create together about how they are responding to the challenges of our day." 

Heritage Matters Webinar Series
International Institute for the Inclusive Museums
“The current COVID 19 situation has brought the arts, culture, heritage and environmental sectors into a deep crisis. It is one for which no country or community was prepared. As we ride the wave or tsunami of emergencies, the challenge remains as to how we move forward building on the resilience of communities and cultural groups. What is the best way for governments to make interventions with immediate and long-term impacts? How best can civil society engage? What does inclusion and sustainability mean in the immediate and long-term future?”

Resources and Announcements
Dehkontee Artists Theatre (DATI) Montserrado County (Liberia) Peace Advocates, of diverse ethnic groups, preparing for formal launch of the DATI Kukatonon Peace Project. Photo by Henry Garjay Brumskine, Director of DATI
Montserrado County Chapter, 2019
Dehkontee Artists Theatre’s new Kukatonon Peace Project (Liberia/USA)
Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) has been connecting diaspora Liberians with their brothers and sisters on the continent of Africa and across the globe through its theatrical productions over the span of 46 years.  DATI’s Executive Director, playwright, scholar, actor and theater director Dr. Joseph Gbaba, has called on all Liberians in their homeland and abroad to get actively involved in peacebuilding through the arts and education, even years after civil war officially ended in 2003, as deep divides remain within and across Liberian communities.

Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) 2021-2022 Fellowship
Apply by: September 1, 2020
The NCF Fellowship program provides three individuals with up to $150,000 over 18 months to turn an inspired idea that advances social justice into a reality. Fellows also receive hands-on training, resources, and leadership development to scale the impact of their work. The Fellowship is designed for emergent leaders in the U.S. who have limited access to institutional philanthropy and whose work is traditionally underfunded. The topic of a Fellow’s project should generally align with the Foundation’s focus on climate change and inequality. It should aim to transform systems and mindsets that hinder progress towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color. The Foundation is also interested in innovative approaches that cut across topics. 

The Minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) at Brandeis University publishes a statement of commitment in solidarity with Black Lives Matter
Two CAST students, along with the program co-chairpeople, have crafted a statement outlining CAST’s commitment to work toward repairing the racial, gender, economic, and environmental injustices, health disparities, and erasure of heritage that continue to situate Black lives as less valuable and more disposable than white lives. “Black lives matter. Black flourishing matters.”

International 2020 Relief Fund for Organizations in Culture and Education
Goethe Institute
“On the initiative of the Goethe-Institut and the Federal Foreign Office, institutions working in international cultural cooperation have set up a relief fund. It is aimed at organisations abroad whose commitment is of great importance for artistic freedom and for a pluralistic society. The maximum funding for a project in the period from September to December 2020 is 25,000 euros. For any queries regarding the application process please contact

European Culture of Solidarity Fund 
European Cultural Foundation
(Keep an eye out for the next cycle of funding)
“We invite you to apply for the European Culture of Solidarity Fund in various application windows. The Fund supports imaginative cultural initiatives that, in the midst of the global pandemic crisis reinforce European solidarity and the idea of Europe as a shared public space.”

Fund for Black Theatre in the U.S.
"Black Theatre is alive and vibrant; however, Black Theatre is not funded." - August Wilson 1996
Artist Support: List of Resources for Artists in Need
Contemporary And list of grants offering support to artists in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stimulus Package for Artists in Kenya
Artists of various sectors and media in Kenya are being called on to create “works that entertain and educate Kenyans and the world on the safety and health precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.” 

IMPACT Virtual Learning Exchange:
Creative Responses to Gender-Based Violence in Africa

Sept. 3 & 4, 2020

Songs of Resistance and Hope
A video podcast by Jane Wilburn Sapp, singer, songwriter, cultural activist and educator

Fund for Black Theatre in the U.S.
"Black Theatre is alive and vibrant; however, Black Theatre is not funded." - August Wilson 1996

View our privacy policy. Opt-out at any time by clicking the "opt out" link below.
Songs of Resistance and Hope:
A video podcast by Jane Wilburn Sapp, singer, songwriter, cultural activist and educator.

Jane Sapp believes that songs communicate ideas in ways that can move people to act on their visions for the world. Songs can plant seeds in our collective memory and energize movements for social justice. They have the ability to give voice to a moral conscience and a moral imagination.
Peacebuilding and the Arts Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts
International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life
Brandeis University
415 South Street | MS 086 | Waltham, MA 02454-9110

To comment on "Peacebuilding and the Arts Now"
or to join the listserv, send a message here.
connect with us: facebook twitter
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.