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 Director
November 2016

Dear friends,

Greetings from Brandeis’ Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts.

In the US, we are wrapped up in a protracted, painful election season. The ever-creative grassroots organization United States Department of Art and Culture has decided to subvert the meaning of traditional Super PACs (which fuel politics with vast sums of money) with USDAC Super PACs, or Participatory Arts Coalitions, which are powering democracy with mass artistic creativity. Check out how to become an ExtraSuperDelegate below!

Meanwhile, we also focus on the contributions of arts and culture to the urgent global issue of climate change. The power of human creativity and imagination, even in times of crisis, continues to inspire. We recognize the power of art to focus our attention on painful circumstances we often prefer to ignore, and to mobilize and animate acts of resistance and initiatives of resilience.

This past September, I was privileged to have been a part of a conference on culture and resilience, sponsored by the Rockefeller Archives. I learned about powerful cultural development projects including: the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, the Foundation Connaissance et Liberte (FOKAL) in Haiti, the Abrasevic Youth Cultural Center in Mostar, Cambodian Living Arts, and Memoria Abierta in Argentina, as well as the work of individual artists in Uganda, Egypt, and New Orleans. There were also presentations about work toward cultural preservation in Syria, including attempts to preserve ancient mosaics by sandbagging them within museums. I was very fortunate to present on a panel with the social psychiatrist Mindy Fullilove, who shared research on the devastating effects on individual and community health of serial forced displacements (such as the disruptions to the social fabric of urban renewal policies.) Among other topics, we considered the pros and cons of the framework of resilience – which offers the advantage of focusing on community assets as opposed to deficits, but also can focus attention away from the people and institutions that often to their own benefit caused the harm that required resilience in the first place.

Mindful of the vulnerabilities that challenge political, social, cultural and ecological systems at this moment in history,

Wishing you all the best,
Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director
Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts

Arts and the 2016 Presidential Election
History in the Making: Papel Picado Now -
SuperPAC project. Image courtesy of USDAC.
September 6 - November 7, 2016

Looking for creative ways to disrupt narratives of hate during this election cycle? Want to foster dialogue and connection, activate civic agency, and encourage full democratic participation? Join USDAC as a ExtraSuperDelegate!

Traditional Super PACs fuel politicians with vast sums of money; the USDAC Super PAC will power democracy with mass artistic creativity.

From September 6-November 7, 2016, the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is sponsoring USDAC Super PAC to spur creative public participation leading up to the presidential election. They are inviting artists and allies to show the country how democracy is practiced.

Anyone can join USDAC Super PAC as an ExtraSuperDelegate, creating a Super Public Act of Compassion or Super Participatory Act of Culture that fosters dialogue and connection, activates civic agency, counters narratives of hate, and encourages full democratic participation.

Download the free USDAC Super PAC Toolkit to get started!

Here are some examples of projects you’ll find:
  • History in the Making: Papel Picado Now uses a traditional Mexican artform, cut paper, to create powerful messages that can be made by children or adults and displayed anywhere.

  • Make America Crate uses a giant, portable soapbox to invite anyone to step up and express opinions, ideas, and feelings on what makes America.

  • Lawncare invites everyone to repurpose political yard signs to illustrate the values they want to campaign for, rather than using them to advertise politicians.

  • Plus many others!

Americans for the Arts Action Fund

In 1999, Hillary Clinton won an Americans for the Arts National Arts Award for Arts Advocacy for her work as First Lady, including her support for the NEA and NEH, her leadership of projects such as the Millennium Council and Save America’s Treasures, and her collaboration with Americans for the Arts in unveiling its YouthArts USA program in 1997. She was also featured in an arts education advocacy PSA produced by Bravo.

Policy Views on the Arts and Education
  • Supports arts education being taught in the classroom.

  • Believes an investment in the arts is an investment in the future of children.

  • Understands that arts education can be a transformation in the lives of all children if it is fully funded and supported.

Examples of Actions Taken on the Arts
  • Released "Coming Up Taller: Arts and Humanities Programs for Children and Youth at Risk”, a report on the benefits of arts education and programming. (Source: The President’s Commitment to the Arts and Humanities Brochure)

Congressional Arts Voting Record
  • Member of the U.S. Senate Caucus.
Watch a video of Hillary Clinton speaking about her position on arts education and funding for arts education. Watch another video of Hillary Clinton speaking about arts education at a Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump hosted the televised reality shows "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice” for a combined 14 seasons. Forbes magazine reported that Trump “‘flirted briefly' with attending film school at the University of Southern California but decided that real estate was his calling.”

Trump opposes the Common Core Education Standards, but supports a well-rounded education. Trump opposes the Education Department determining how education dollars are spent, for the arts or otherwise. When asked about funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Trump replied, "The Congress, as representatives of the people, make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be.”  

Trump personally has given at least $465,125 to arts-affiliated organizations in New York between 1994 and 2010. On In February 2016, Trump spoke at a Rotary Club gathering in Manchester, New Hampshire, where several Arts Action Fund members were present and attempted to ask Trump about his position on the arts. While he answered few questions, he did remark on his aesthetic goals for his proposed border wall with Mexico. To paraphrase Trump, he said "And I am going to have to add some designs to the wall because someday they might name it after me and I want it to look real nice."

The 2016 Election Comics and Cartoons

The following are collections of artistic comics and cartoons that comment on the positions of the candidates and the issues of the 2016 presidential election:
Creative Engagement with Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability
The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts
The CSPA is an intentional for-profit organization exploring hybrid business models in an effort to break conventional non-profit dependencies, to engage politically, to re-invest funding into the arts, and to position arts and culture as a driver of a sustainable society.

Film: "Before the Flood" with Leonardo DiCaprio
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor, environmental activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio, Before the Flood presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change, as well as the actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet. The film follows DiCaprio as he travels to five continents and the Arctic speaking to scientists, world leaders...
Watch now (available for free to stream on various platforms and read more about the making of the film, the experts, the crisis, and the solutions. 

Artists and Climate Change: Contributions from the artistic community to the vexing problem of climate change
Today, interesting artistic work about climate change is popping up all over the world, in all kinds of venues. The goal of this blog is to track these works and gather them in one place. It is both a study of what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject.

Corporate sustainability messaging isn't working – it's time to look to the arts 
The Guardian
“Artistic expression, not scripted marketing will strike the chord we're missing. Businesses should take the plunge and invest.”

LA Times: Art born of China's pollution
“Increasingly, artists are finding their muse in China's ecological mire.” In his series the 'Face Mask,' Chinese artist Wu Di experiments with pollution masks, including depicting a young girl in Beijing wearing 445 masks, the number he calculates she will need between now and 2030.
Film: Children of the Jaguar
This groundbreaking documentary produced by Sarayaku Indigenous People and Amnesty International features their successful international legal battle against their country at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in Costa Rica for allowing foreign oil exploration on their land without their consent.

REVERB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2004 that creates and executes comprehensive, custom programs to green musician tours while engaging concertgoers to take action for the environment.
Julie’s Bicycle is a leading global charity bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and the creative industries, working with over 1,000 arts organisations across the UK and internationally, large and small to help them measure, manage and reduce their environmental impacts.
Additional Resources and Opportunities
ARTSpring generally functions as a “hub” connecting art practitioners with institutions that are experimenting with new ideas and searching for new ways of connecting with people. It is an experiment in strengthening cultures through original art programs.

Submission deadline: December 31, 2016
Bristol Bay in Alaska is home to several thousand Native Alaskan families living by what they call ‘subsistence,’ who depend on the Bay, its rivers and forests to survive. A Canadian gold and copper mining company wants to build what would be the world’s largest open-pit mine next to the headwaters. Musician’s United to Protect Bristol Bay invites you write a song that tells the story of Alaska's Bristol Bay.

Theater of Witness is a form of testimonial performance developed by founder and artistic director Teya Sepinuck in which the true life stories of those whose voices haven’t been heard in society are performed by the storytellers themselves as a way for audiences to bear witness to significant social issues.

The Guardian
Claudia Rankine received a MacArthur “genius grant” in September 2016. “She plans to donate her $625,000 stipend from her MacArthur genius grant to found the Racial Imaginary Institute… a ‘presenting space and a think tank all at once’ where artists and writers can really wrestle with race.

This Kickstarter project aims to produce a documentary film about Playback Theatre. The stories of central characters will be shown through both the playback performance(s) and through some daily experiences as they actively work to pursue peace and social justice in their day-to-day lives.

Global Action Project works with young people most affected by injustice to build the knowledge, tools, and relationships needed to create media for community power, cultural expression, and political change. Global Action Project’s 2016 youth-produced films are now available to stream online, including: "Over Stigmatized," "To Blend or To Dream," "Missing Pieces," and "Right To Act."

Afterall Journal, Issue 42
A concept and set of working practices initiated by the artist Tania Bruguera, Arte Útil proposes that art can be directly useful as a tool for social and political change... To date, the archive has taken various forms, from an online database to physical presentations within museum exhibitions... 
Imagining Freedom | Creating Justice - Salon Series:
"Staging Social Change"

November 1, 6:00-8:00pm

Acting Together Project Toolkit: Video Excerpts

The Acting Together Project toolkit or "Tools for Continuing the Conversation" is a second disc included with your purchase of the "Acting Together on the World Stage" documentary, and includes dynamic resources for educators and trainers.

The toolkit includes 18 additional short videos, as well as 18 print documents. The short videos expand on the material presented in the documentary, and feature additional stories and conversations among leading international artists and peacebuilding practitioners. View excerpts of the the short videos including Performances Addressing Gender-Based Violence with Ana Correa and Roberto Varea in Peru and Performance and Social Change with John O’Neal in New Orleans, USA.
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.