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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 Director
December 2017

Greetings from the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University. 
After a busy summer and fall semester, we’d like to share with you the exciting news that we are working on a planning process to design an infrastructure for the arts, culture and conflict transformation field, in partnership with the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College, and with Maseno University in Kisumu, Kenya. This initiative, supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is called IMPACT – Imagining Together: Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation. It is designed to strengthen the ecosystem of those working in the large arts, culture and conflict transformation field.
Currently, IMPACT’s Steering Committee is exploring different organizational structures which could meet the needs of the field and also be sustainable. We also are pulling together a team of researchers from different regions of the world who will map segments of the existing field, including both university-based programs and cultural institutions. Information gathered by the Steering Committee and the researchers will be presented to focus groups of different members of the arts, culture and conflict transformation eco-system (artists, activists, cultural workers, peacebuilding scholar/practitioners, philanthropists, etc.) to elicit further suggestions and recommendations. All of this information will ultimately be synthesized into a report, a roadmap for a way forward to a structure that will support our work that has never been more vital in communities around the world.   
Readers of this newsletter can contribute to IMPACT by responding to a set of questions. Specifically, we would like to know:
  • What you perceive as the most important needs of the field?
  • What you see as key obstacles or challenges that diminish the impact of our work, in both aesthetic and socio-political terms?
  • What you see as important opportunities – for collaborations, sources of support, issues where contributions of arts and culture are being recognized, etc.?
Please sign up for updates about this project and to contribute your thinking at this early stage. We’ll be asking for more input as the initiative develops. Check out the IMPACT website:
In June of 2017, Polly Walker, Kitche Magak and I led a training for ten Kenyan artists and peacebuilders. One of the participants, Beth Kawira, has done follow-up research on the arts and peacebuilding initiatives in Kenya, especially relevant now as the country faces new election-related violence. Portions of her report are excerpted below.
And we conclude, as always, with information about resources and opportunities. There is a great deal of inspiring work going on in the field; we look forward to hearing about yours! Let us know if you’d like us to post anything on our website or in the next edition of Peacebuilding and the Arts Now.
All the best,
Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director
Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts
Arts and Social Change in Kenya: Past and Present
Research by Beth Kawira with Kitche Magak
Art lives in the hearts of people. It’s in music videos, it’s in photos, it’s everywhere. – Boniface Mwangi, an activist.
Art gives voice to the voiceless. It helps in communicating and expressing what people are afraid of expressing under normal circumstances. In Kenya, individuals, civil society and the government have increasingly embraced artistic forms in the process of peace building and social change. This has worked quite well in social transformation, including socio-economic development, fostering peace and reconciliation of conflicting parties.
With the just concluded 2017 General Elections, so much was done using the arts in promoting peace in Kenya. Elections have always come with tension in the country. The citizens have always been apprehensive about  the outcome, which at times lead to conflicts based mostly on tribal lines, ignorance and politicians ‘using’ young people to cause destruction in the name of campaigns.  With the 2017 elections, all were hopeful that they would be peaceful, free and fair. We see now that there is still much work to do; the country seems more divided than ever. Although social media is one factor that is worsening the situation, artists can nevertheless build on its positive potential. Below are examples of arts-based peacebuilding initiatives over the last several years.   
Training for Kenyan Artists and Peacebuilders at Juniata College
This summer, Bakers Institute For Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College held a week- long training for Kenyan peace builders, scholars and artists on how art can and has been used a tool for social transformation in Kenya. The participants held in depth discussions with the facilitators: Dr. Cindy Cohen from Brandeis University, Prof. Kitche Magak from Maseno University in Kenya and Dr. Polly Walker from Baker institute for peace and Conflict Management, Juniata College.

The Kenyan participants explored various examples on how arts has brought positive impact to the Kenyan communities and played a great role in social transformation. Art has been embraced not only at the national level but also at the grassroots level where it has been used as a tool in settling disputes such as inter-ethnic conflicts, gender inequalities, cattle rustling, land disputes and domestic violence. Read more and learn more about the Baker Institute for Peace
Participants in a one-weekworkshop at the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at JuniataCollege for Kenyan peace builders and activists on incorporating art into thepeace building process in Kenya. Learn more about the training and participants.
Kibera Walls for Peace
Kibera Hamlets  (KH) is a Nairobi-based organization that has worked with various Kibera-based graffiti artists and American artist Joel Bergner and to foster cooperation, promoting peace and understanding amongst the different ethnic communities. Reflecting on two-month long violence following the 2007 elections, resulting at least 1500 deaths reported and hundreds of thousands of households internally displaced due to inter-tribal conflict, KH worked with communities to create murals and peacebuilding workshops on issues of peace and reconciliation ahead of the 2013 general elections.
Amani Peoples’ Theatre (APT)
Founded by university and college students, Amani Peoples’ Theatre (APT) works with communities and youth organizations in various counties in Kenya using participatory theatre to explore the sources of conflict. APT provides training in conflict transformation and peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue, trauma healing, youth crime prevention & rehabilitation, drama therapy, and psychodrama using multi-arts approaches.
Arts & Abolition Foster Care Home
Arts & Abolition is a non-governmental foster care organization that provides trauma therapy  and art therapy to girls who have survived sexual violence. Art therapy includes various modalities including dance, song, and visual arts/ painting. The founder and executive director explains that the art therapy provides healing through important opportunity for expression and deeper experiences of freedom.
Sponsored Arts for Education (S.A.F.E) KENYA
S.A.F.E. is a non-governmental organization that uses the performing arts and community programs to inspire and deliver social change. After the 2007/2008-post election violence in Kenya, S.A.F.E began a peace program, including a play, which was made into a film titled ni sisi (It Is Us). The film explored how political campaigns divide people along tribal lines rather than unite people in building their country.
“Heal the Nation” Documentary 
The documentary was created by an organization called Picha Mtaani, Swahili for 'street exhibitions,' an initiative founded by a Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi. It showcases the photographs he took during his countrywide tour after the 2007/2008-post election violence.  The documentary shows both emotional reactions to the photographs themselves, and shares the narratives of victims and perpetrators driven by their encounter with the aim of preventing such violence in the future.
EARTHwise Centre for Arts & Social Change
EARTHwise is a social enterprise providing stewardship, capacity development, whole system design, education, and vision development for ecological flourishing and actualization. As part of their education and sustainability program, EARTHwise invited Alex Mativo, founder and CEO E-LAB, an afro-futurist brand that designs jewelry and furniture from electronic waste to speak about turning e-waste into pieces of art. His work portrays how art plays a role in transforming people’s lives by reducing waste in the environment and providing a income generating product for local people.
Lenga Ugaidi Na Talanta (Fight Terrorism through Talent)
Lenga Ugaidi Na Talanta is a short-film competition organized in collaboration between a few youth organizations in Kenya. Young people showcase their creative films that feature anti-terrorism messages. Films awarded address topics including terrorism, radicalization, and violent extremism.
Resources & Opportunities
“Arts and Building Peace: Affirming the Basics and Envisioning the Future”
Essay by Cynthia Cohen

Creating Peace - Issue 32, November 2017

Peace in Progress

The November 2017 issue of Peace in Progress, the digital magazine of the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP), is entitled Creating Peace. The issue features an essay by Cynthia Cohen, “Arts and Building Peace: The Basics and Envisioning the Future.” Read the essay and subscribe to the magazine.
Broadsided Press: Call for Ekphrastic Writing
Bearing Arms:  Responding to Guns in American Culture
Deadline: December 27

We have, according to the constitution, the right “to keep and bear arms” in the United States.  But how, in the wake of Las Vegas, Pulse, Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, and other abuses of firearms—by citizens and in some cases by those trained to protect and serve—do we bear that right?  How do we bear it?
Broadsided put out a call to visual artists asking for submissions on this topic and work came from all over the country, in all media.  Now, they are asking you to respond to this images with words.
Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change 
A report by John Borstel, Pam Korza, Andrea Assaf; Chris Dwyer; Mark Valdez, Denise Brown, and Barbara Schaffer Bacon. 
A framework to enhance understanding and evaluation of Arts for Change developed by Animating Democracy. View a ‘short take’ of the report and the full report.  

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest European Union Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The Horizon2020 research program is open - including around 240 calls for projects for SSH researchers!
Published by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research of France, the goals of fund┋it include assisting the international research community in finding calls for applications in the social sciences and humanities.
2018 People’s State of the Union & Story Circles 
Jan. 25 - Feb. 4

From January 25 to February 4, 2018, Citizen Artists across the country will host Story Circles in their communities, bringing neighbors together to make sense of this tumultuous year, strengthening social fabric, and creating much-needed space for truth-telling and deep listening. Over the last three years, people in more than 350 different communities signed up to host.
Call for Applications: Truth & Reconciliation Residency
Santa Fe Art Institute

Deadline: February 15

From September 2018 through August 2019, Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) will bring together 70 artists, creative practitioners, content experts, and innovative thinkers from all over the world to explore how uncovering and acknowledging the truth can be used as a means of reconciliation. Applications are due before February 15, early applications are encouraged.
Call for Applications: Truth & Reconciliation Residency
Santa Fe Art Institute

Deadline: February 15

IMPACT - Imagining Together
Platform For Arts, Culture And Conflict Transformation

Survey on needs, challenges and opportunities for the Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation field
IMPACT is an initiative of Brandeis University’s program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, undertaken in collaboration with the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College and Maseno University in Kisumu, Kenya. We are considering a range of possible organizational structures that would support the field. Learn more about the project:
In order to decide which organizational configurations might best serve the field, we must deepen our understanding of the current state of the field, including what is needed to make work more effective, what challenges the field faces, and what opportunities are emerging at this time.

Please take a few minutes and share your thoughts.
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

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