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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 2018

Greetings from the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University. I’d like welcome both long-time and new readers of this e-newsletter, with a special shout out to those who are receiving this issue for the first time because of their participation in the IMPACT initiative as researchers, and as participants in virtual learning exchanges and the Design Labs associated with Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT)

IMPACT is a collaboration among Brandeis, Juniata College, and Maseno University (in Western Kenya). With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and in collaboration with colleagues in many different regions of the world, we have been designing structures and processes to strengthen the contributions of arts and culture to more vibrant and peaceful, and less violent, communities. Dr. Ellada Evangelou, our colleague from Cyprus, has agreed to edit a section of Peacebuilding and the Arts Now to share IMPACT developments with this wider network. So, beginning with this issue, Peacebuilding and the Arts Now will include updates on IMPACT. In the section below, readers can find Ellada’s “semi-formal diary” of IMPACT’s early September Design Lab.

We at Brandeis are also proud to announce that Let’s Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp (written by Jane Wilburn Sapp with Cynthia Cohen, and designed by Wen-ti Tsen) has been completed and will be available soon. Details below.

Meanwhile, around the world, artists and cultural workers are engaging with the many complex challenges that the human community is confronting. Lauren Satterlee has curated two brief sections on creative approaches to issues of migration and climate change.

It has been difficult to find words to express thoughts and feelings in response to many recent events. My Acting Together and IMPACT colleague, Dr. Polly Walker, and I were both asked to offer remarks to students at our institutions about the tragic killings in the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue. Not surprising, we both found wisdom and solace in the words of artists. Read Polly’s comments and read my comments. Visit to hear Jane’s hymn-like arrangement of the African American spiritual “Ain’t You Got a Right (to the Tree of Life)”, poignantly appropriate to the moment.

Wishing you all the best in these increasingly challenging times,

Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director
Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts
Update: Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT)
IMPACT is a collaboration among the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University, the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College, and Maseno University in Western Kenya, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is charged with designing a set of structures and processes to strengthen the field of Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation. Since September 2017, the initiative has been assessing the needs and assets of the field, drafting recommendations, and supporting the emergence of a web of teams that are addressing priority needs, including increasing inclusivity and connectivity among the different players in the field, advocating for the field, articulating and refining ethical principles, and generating and disseminating knowledge about issues such as evaluation and strengthening relationships between practitioners and researchers.

In the first year of the project, IMPACT connected with some 500 individuals and organizations, and produced an Emerging Story of the Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation Field. We would love to hear your comments and ideas in response to this document.

This document was used as the basis for a Design Lab in early September. Ellada Evangelou, a theatre director from Cyprus with ties throughout the Middle East and North Africa, has produced a semi-informal account of the Design Lab in the form of an illustrated diary.

Conversations around advocacy and strategy in the Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (ACCT) field are reflected in writings of two Design Lab participants, innovators in their communities and internationally. Mary Ann Hunter, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Tasmania is preparing an article for the Arts Education Policy Review. See her abstract for “Going global: Arts, culture and conflict transformation in education”. Carmen Olaechea, President of the Foundation for Democratic Change, Argentina, and Senior Advisor to Crear Vale La Pena, has written an essay “Art, Culture and Conflict Transformation” (translation here) inspired partly by IMPACT. Her writing and her presence help to ensure that perspectives from the dynamic Latin American network of Art and Social Transformation are incorporated into IMPACT:

"That's why art is also becoming our best way to provoke society. To move it, scandalize it, refresh it, and love it. With mysteries, legends, questions and rites, the human community creates worlds to then examine itself again. Is this planet the love of our lives? How so? And it asks that question with greater vitality than mere "denunciation" or the speech of "the victims". Art, conceived as the societal production of freedom, as a manifestation of human power, always prefigures a more just, solidary and democratic society.”

To stay updated on IMPACT, please visit our website. In the coming months, we’ll be sharing a draft of recommendations for an infrastructure for the field, and issuing invitations for a new round of virtual learning exchanges.  In March, April, May, June 2019, IMPACT will be convening more virtual learning exchanges at the Peace Insight platform to deepen the conversations related to the field of Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation. Sign up to participate! More information to come. 

Let's Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp
Let’s Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp is a new resource for music educators, chorus leaders, activists and cultural workers, to be released in the coming weeks. In it, the nationally admired cultural worker, musician, educator, and activist, Jane Wilburn Sapp, shares her approach to social transformation and its roots in African-American musical traditions. In the book, Jane tells the story of her childhood, nurtured by the Black community while living in the brutal world of the Jim Crow South. She describes her participation in the Black Power movement and introduces us to her mentors. She shares 25 songs she has written with young people and sung with people of all ages, and tells the stories behind each song and offers suggestions or teachers and chorus leaders. The book also includes scores, and all of the songs can be heard on podcasts where Jane’s approach to cultural work is illuminated through conversations with activists, cultural workers, and music educators.

From the introduction, “If You Really Want to Know Me:”

Too often social change work focuses on what communities don’t have: there aren’t enough economic resources; the education system is not responsive; and racism keeps Black people from reaching their full potential. But I began to wonder what would happen if we focus on what we do have rather than on our deficiencies. We have each other, our songs, our stories, our imaginations, our experiences surviving and making ugly beautiful. We know how to make a way out of no way. – Jane Sapp, p. 25

For information about how to sign up to order Let’s Make a Better World” and to listen to the accompanying podcast, please visit If you would like an advance copy to consider adopting for a class, or for writing a review, please contact Cindy directly at

Creative Reflections on Human Migration
Music & Migration
In Sounds in Europe
Read pieces reflecting on the intersection of music and migration, including a feature on a press statement given by the organisers of the World Music Expo (WOMEX), ‘Against Xenophobia and Pro Diversity.’

Room to Breathe, Migration Museum Project
Room to Breathe is an immersive experience inviting you to discover stories from generations of new arrivals to Britain through a series of residencies by migrant artists, who will use one part of the exhibition space as their studio and host a series of workshops.”

The Art of Migration
In the summer of 2018, an artist, a dancer, a professional traveler & a U.S. immigration lawyer embark on a 10,000+ mile journey through 20+ countries in Eastern Europe & Central Asia, to raise awareness about migration & to explore culture & identity through public art, conversation & storytelling.

Refugees Welcome: 15 Pieces of Street Art and Graffiti from Europe and beyond Showing Solidarity in the ongoing Refugee Crisis
Aesthetics of Crisis

CAMP: A Unique Center For Art Engaging Migration 
Copenhagen, Denmark
CAMP is a nonprofit exhibition space for art discussing questions of displacement, migration, immigration, and asylum.

Artists Respond to Climate Change
“Nahi” by Sean Yoro
"Nahi" by Sean Yoro
Yoro ventured into the devastating aftermath of recent wildfires painting a mural inspired by the need to grow new thoughts on preserving and protecting land. From “10 Artists on What Climate Change Actually Looks Like,” OutsideOnline. View also a video about a mural painted by Yoro in the Arctic waters of Iqaluit, Nanuvut.

The Art of Transformation
New study shows how the arts contribute to knowledge-creation and transformations around climate change
Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm, Sweden
A new study demonstrates how the role of arts in addressing climate change solutions is understated.

Pacific climate change adaptation: The use of participatory media to promote indigenous knowledge
"Pacific Island communities are increasingly experiencing the impacts of climate change... This article discusses a project undertaken with a community on Andra Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies were explored through photo essays developed by community members, engaging in approaches of visual participatory action research and indigenous research approaches...”

The Art of Climate Change Action by Amir Bagheri  
“Artivism, a term coined by the millennials, is not a new phenomenon and is making a strong comeback in youth activism today. With the assistance of social media, artivism has become a popular form of protest, in particular in the climate change movement….”

Resources & Opportunities
Support the poetry of Hilde Domin set to music
Deadline: December 14
The soulful poetry of the German-Jewish poet Hilde Domin is coming to life in the English-speaking world through exquisite musical settings created and performed by Deborah Langstaff and friends. This campaign offers an opportunity to support the completion of a CD of a cycle of poems and music perfectly attuned to this moment and its spiritual challenges.

Call for Applications: SU-CASA
Deadline: December 14, 5:00pm
SU-CASA is a community arts engagement program hosted by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) that places artists and organizations for six months at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. The program provides selected artists with a stipend in exchange for the creation and delivery of arts programming for seniors.

Call for Papers: The Journal of Peacebuilding and Development
Abstracts Due: January 15, 2019
Full Submissions Due: February 22, 2019

The Journal of Peacebuilding and Development (JPD) is calling for papers for Volume 14 Number 3, which is to be published in December 2019. Submit now in MSWord .docx format.

Memorial: Pittsburgh and Jefferson Town
By Polly Walker
“We gather to remember both the members of the Squirrel Hill Synagogue who were shot and killed in Pittsburgh, and the people of color who were gunned down in a grocery store in Jefferson Town, Kentucky…”

Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights 
January 4, 2018
Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (ONCHR)
By Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
This special report includes initiatives and projects that are part of Peacebuilding the Arts program network such as Arlene Golbard's writing on Medellin, the example of the United States Department of Arts and Culture, Ajoka Theatre in Pakistan, Theatre Without Borders, Lena Schlachmuijlder's research on work in Burundi (undertaken while she was a Brandeis International Fellow from 2002-2004), and Ruth Margraff's and Polly Walker's contributions to Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict.

Naila and the Uprising
Starting March 25, 2019
PBS officially announces the award-winning documentary, Naila and the Uprising, to be broadcast nationwide on PBS on March 25, 2019, as part of the Women War & Peace II series, which gives context and color to the present moment with four stories of incredible women who fought for justice and equality, changing the world in the process.

Just Vision
Just Vision increases the power and reach of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the occupation and build a future of freedom, dignity and equality for all. Just Vision tells under-documented stories through award-winning films, digital media and targeted public education campaigns that undermine stereotypes, inspire commitment and galvanize action.

MASS Action (Museums As Site for Social Action)
MASS Action (Museums As Site for Social Action) is a movement that intends to reshape the model of what a 21st-century museum can be.

As Criminalization of the Arts Intensifies in Cuba, Activists Organize
“A Cuban decree seeks to censor artists to an unprecedented level, essentially regulating any and all artistic and cultural activity in the country.”

The Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts Program
Collaborating with the Tony Award-winning La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, the Trinity/La MaMa Performing Arts program in New York City offers undergraduate students a unique opportunity for a semester of urban, place-based learning that provides a total immersion in the vibrant theater, dance, and performance communities. Visit them on Facebook.

The Dance + Social Justice Conference
March 9-10, 2019
Los Angeles
In the first two-day conference hosted by the Free Body Project, meet and move with some of the most exciting minds in the field, join a tight-knit, vibrant community of dancers, artists, healers, and activists changing the world, and leave with the inspiration and skills to do the same.

International Storytelling Center
The cornerstone of the International Storytelling Center (ISC) is a belief in a single, immutable principle of life—storytelling. People crave, remember, and honor stories. And now, after years of scientific research in 17 different fields, analysts conclude that storytelling is our most powerful tool for effective communication. 

Based in Switzerland, artasfoundation was founded in 2011 and initiates and supports art projects in regions of conflict and in times of crisis, with a mission to initiate art projects in affected regions in the aftermath of wars in processes of reconstruction and democratization, and to supplement established humanitarian work with art.

Call for Applications: SU-CASA
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC)
Deadline: Dec. 14, 5:00pm

Story Summit for Appalachian Youth
December 14
International Storytelling Center

Call for Papers - Creative Approaches to Transitional Justice: Contributions of Arts and Culture
2020 Special Issue, International Journal of Transitional Justice
Deadline: July 1, 2019
Guest Editor: Cynthia Cohen
View the full flyer 

Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
January 4, 2018
Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR)
By Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

Call for Papers
Deadline: July 1, 2019

The International Journal of Transitional Justice invites submissions for its 2020 Special Issue, “Creative Approaches to Transitional Justice: Contributions of Arts andCulture.” To be guest edited by Cynthia Cohen, director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, US. Papers should be submitted online through the IJTJ webpage at For further information, please contact the managing editor at Learn more.
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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