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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
March 2019

Greetings from the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis!

In this newsletter, we are pleased to share recent developments from IMPACT (Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation), collated by Ellada Evangelou, our IMPACT colleague based in Cyprus. As this very dynamic initiative transitions from a planning phase to implementation phase, we invite readers of this e-newsletter to join our community of inquiry by participating in one or more virtual learning exchanges. The first will be conducted in Spanish on March 28th; details are below. We also want to share with you plans for our partnership with the International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam (ICAF), in March 2020, and also some films relating to work by people in the IMPACT network. Currently, IMPACT is focusing now on a report summarizing the 18-month planning phase of the project. It includes recommendations for structures and processes to strengthen the Arts, Culture and Conflict field. A summary of a youth-focused Design Lab will give you a taste of the larger report to follow in a few weeks. 
As the Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (ACCT) field seems to be growing in the depth and breadth of its reach, we’ve nevertheless been cognizant of disturbing trends on the world stage, including the rising tide of authoritarianism, putting artists and other truth-tellers particularly at risk. That being said, we continue to be inspired by the courageous and creative actions drawing our attention to and challenging these abuses of power. Lauren Satterlee, the Peacebuilding and the Arts Now editor, has curated a selection of examples.
The Brandeis community will launch the book Let’s Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp on Tuesday, April 2, in the Slosberg Recital Hall on the Brandeis campus, at 12:30. A brief symposium will bring performances by Jane into conversation with commentary from different disciplinary perspectives. If you are in the area, please join us for what promises to be a stimulating and energizing exchange, followed by a reception and book signing. Those reading this from a distance: please visit where we welcome you to the seven-episode podcast that accompanies the book. It invites you into an approach to community cultural development arising from African American musical traditions and struggles for racial justice, affirming human dignity and the transformative power of collective creative action. 
One of the great privileges of working as the director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts has been the opportunity to meet and work with people of enormous talent, courage and wisdom. Among these folks, one that shines brightly in my memory is the theatre artist and Civil Rights leader John O’Neal. He was a founder of the Free Southern Theater, an arm of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, and later, Junebug theatre. He invented the storycircle, a process that invites equal participation and embodies democracy in action. He participated in the Brandeis/Theatre Without Borders collaboration Acting Together on the World Stage, authoring a chapter in the anthology, appearing in the documentary, and participating in many events on the Brandeis campus and elsewhere. He cherished these opportunities to be in conversation with international colleagues. John passed away on February 15th. We will always remember him for his uncompromising politics, coupled with the warmest of embraces. It is an honor to share a bit of John’s unique blend of humor, passion, commitment and wisdom through his writing and his words. Please visit our Acting Together - Theatre & Conflict Transformation Youtube channel, and listen and watch as he discusses performance and peacebuilding. Please view his Acting Together case study, curator profile, and 2012 profile updates from the one-year anniversary of AT including John’s acceptance of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre. The title of John’s Acting Together chapter captures his spirit: “Do You Smell Something Stinky?: Notes from Conversations about Making Art While Working for Peace in Racist, Imperial America in the 21st Century.” 

All the best,

Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director
Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts
IMPACT: Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation 
IMPACT is an initiative of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University, in collaboration with the Baker Institute of Peace and Conflict at Juniata College and Maseno University in Kisumu, Kenya, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Virtual Learning Exchanges: Opportunities to Connect
IMPACT will host four new virtual learning exchanges in upcoming months. On March 28, we will convene our first Spanish language exchange, in partnership with Fundación Cambio Democrático (FCD) and Fundación Crear Vale la Pena Foundation (CVLP). The dialogue on the 28th has been designed especially for Latin America since the region has an important tradition in the field of Art, Culture and Conflict Transformation. The goal for the learning exchange is to invite the region to share and analyze the accomplishments and challenges of Latin-American organizations, states and networks in their everyday work. The conveners intend for the conversation to give the chance to participants to gain perspective about the impact of their practices, the richness of their thinking, and the opportunities and difficulties of their work. View the open event invitation. For more information and to register, please contact Carmen Olaechea
In 2018, IMPACT hosted two virtual exchanges. Each attracted approximately 75 people, from many parts of the world, and all sectors of the Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (ACCT) ecosystem, including artists, peacebuilders and funders. Read summaries of the 2018 Learning Exchanges
Additional exchanges in English are planned for April 26, May 30-31, and June 27-28. Information will be posted on the IMPACT website

Planning for Youth Leadership in the Emerging IMPACT Platform 
​Developed by ​Emily Forsyth Queen
February 2019

Top: Youth Design Lab participants
Bottom: Aviva Davis, Design Lab participant
Credit: IMPACT, Ethics Center
Recognizing the importance of the voice and leadership of young people, one IMPACT working group facilitated a collaborative space for youth to design strategies to support young people in the arts, culture, and conflict transformation (ACCT) ecosystem.

Drawing on human-centered design techniques, a youth-focused design lab in November and December 2018 engaged young people around the world in assessing the particular strengths and needs of young people in the ACCT ecosystem. Then, through a “Creativity, Arts, and Social Transformation” (CAST) course at Brandeis University, students developed strategies IMPACT could adopt in order to leverage these strengths and address the needs articulated by young people:
​“Virtual Platform”: A platform for ACCT that incorporates many different social media elements, including: spotlights of human experiences in ACCT, networking, digital marketplace, mapping and highlighting ACCT efforts, telethons, ability to categorize and use many languages.            
Inclusive Learning Spaces”: University-based yearly conferences that rotate among regions and aim to reduce divisions between people in the ACCT ecosystem through reciprocity, homestays, and access to university resources.      
Transformative Consciousness”: ​A weeklong, holistic retreat/festival that rotates among regions, is live-streamed, and plans for follow-up small-scale local replications.
Read the full report

Credit: ICAF 
Every three years at the end of March, a temporary, creative world emerges in Rotterdam filled with unique community-based art projects and artists aiming to create bridges between people from all walks of life. The International Community Arts Festival (ICAF) draws theatre, dance, music, film, and visual arts projects from every continent. It is built around the idea that community art is a worldwide, cutting edge, and highly relevant arts movement.  

The festival program offers in-depth conversations, inspiration, and exchanges during the days. The evenings are chock full with live theater, dance, film and music performances. The eighth edition of ICAF will take place from March 25 to 29, 2020.

ICAF is the largest and most prominent community arts festival in the world, fostering a growing network of worldwide community artists, arts organizations, scholars and social workers. Between festivals, ICAF organizes artist-in-residence programs, international summer schools, and acts as a partner for different international projects within the field of community arts and participatory arts.

IMPACT and ICAF have established a very important long-term partnership, rooted in the shared belief in the power of art to contribute to a safer, more equitable, and more just world. As partners, we also share the knowledge of the importance of critical reflection and a respect for the complexity of this practice… Read more.

Recent Work by IMPACT Participants
Documentary: "Haven't We Shared Much Salt and Bread?" (2017)
Produced by Armine Avetisyan & Ihsan Karayazi
Kars Urban and Culture Research Association

In the documentary "Haven't We Shared Much Salt and Bread?," women from Gyumri (Armenia) and Kars (Turkey) come together to cook traditional recipes from the region  and share the food with communities near the closed border between the two countries. In doing so, these women challenge the hostile narrative rooted in traumatic past of the region and the current political stagnation between their countries. They discuss prejudices and intolerance and question their own perceptions and beliefs, working side-by-side to develop a recipe for peace. Watch the trailer.

Film: “Because Of The War” (2018)
Produced by the Philadelphia Folklore Project
Directed by Toni Shapiro-Phim

In the film “Because of The War,” four brilliant singers -- mothers, refugees, immigrants to the United States, survivors of Liberia's civil wars -- use their music to address and counter inter-ethnic conflict, loss and injustice at home, in refugee camps and in their new communities in North America. The film has been screened in Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Cambodia, a number of places around the U.S., and will screen at  2019 Women's Film Festival in Philadelphia, USA, on March 18. Learn more and watch the trailer

Artistic Residency: [Im]permanence: Famagusta White Nights (2018) 
Produced by Rooftop Theatre and EMAA (European Mediterranean Arts Association)
Directed by Ömer Yetkinel & Esra Plumer Bardak

The Famagusta White Nights artistic residency program in the old city of Famagusta, Cyprus, in October 2018 aimed to foster meaningful artistic dialogue in a post-conflict space, through collaborative processes and community engagement. Artists were invited to investigate or ‘map’ alternative stories of the city, concepts and imaginations of how the city is or can be, and deliver a series of installations in sites responding to the physical aspects of the city’s built-environment. Two groups of artists across the Cyprus divide - under the guidance of two performance curators Gulgun Kayim and Ellada Evangelou - produced [Im]permanence, a video art installation that was be projected on historical structures within the walled city of Famagusta. 

News from the Field: The Impact of Authoritarian Regmines on Artistic Freedom and Expression
International Arts and Rights Advisors 
IARA is a collective of arts and human rights experts based in Italy. We provide consultation services and access to our global and local networks. We work to protect freedom of artistic expression, and broader arts and cultural rights. “Artistic expression is under pressure from multiple sources – be it from the state, media and social media, special interest groups.
We have extensive experience of analysing, understanding and tackling the attack on artists and arts institutions.”

How Art Survives under Authoritarianism 
By Isaac Kaplan, Artsy 
Some of the most important American artworks created during the eras of mutually assured destruction were by marginalized artists repressed by an ostensibly free society.
What is the role of art under authoritarianism?
Kenyon Review
What is the role of art in a time of fake news and fake defense? What is the role of art under authoritarianism?... What is the role of art in a regime where the story is controlled and dissenting stories are accused of being controlled?

Chunwan, Art and Authoritarianism: Can art flourish under an authoritarian regime?
The Diplomat
...For a long time, Western societies have prided themselves on protecting artistic freedom from government restriction, from the First Amendment to the American Constitution to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In a word, it is generally believed that authoritarianism is a threat to art….

‘We Can All Be in Different Worlds’: Ralph Rugoff’s Venice Biennale Will Respond to the Rise of Fake News
‘“Art cannot stem the rise of nationalist movements and authoritarian governments in different parts of the world…nor can it alleviate the tragic fate of displaced peoples across the globe,” [Rugoff] said. Nevertheless, “in an indirect fashion, perhaps art can be a kind of guide for how to live and think in ‘interesting times.”’

Turkey Cracks Down on Cultural Workers and Academics Tied to Detained Philanthropist 
As Osman Kavala, an acclaimed Turkish cultural philanthropist, enters his second year imprisoned in solitary confinement without charge, the arrests of 20 of his affiliates expose the double-standards of Turkey’s treatment of its own dissidents following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A Romanian Artist Tackles Art and Freedom in Authoritarian Times
Geta Brătescu’s work positions the artist as a creator of freedom even in oppressive times
“...Brătescu’s film.. focuses on the artist’s hands. Her hands are shown smoking a cigarette, performing the child’s game, cat’s cradle, and drawing, tattoo-like, thick black lines of ink down her fingers, across her hands and wrist. That the hands do things while being seemingly confined to one space (at a table, within the confines of the camera’s gaze), suggests agency: though the artist, the people, are confined within space, resistance is still possible…” 

Saudi Arabia: Artists redraw 21st century identity
By Claudio Cravero, Freemuse 
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly one of the most restrictive countries worldwide when it comes to freedom of speech. An oppressive government and Islam-driven society clash with the contemporary artists’ desire to build a 21st Century Saudi identity that demystifies oversimplified Western stereotypes and clichés. Based on a three-year first-hand experience as a museum curator in Saudi Arabia, the subject of censorship is not only dealt with its severe impositions but also from the artists’ standpoint. From the public to the private sphere, art can thus become a space of possibilities. And, it represents an act of resistance to challenge political oppression as well as breaking the boundaries of what is allowed to be said and dealt with.

4 Historical Art Movements That Arose in the Wake of Authoritarian Regime  
“...Works that question authority and challenge the status quo flourish during the most tumultuous of times, but what comes afterward? Below are four movements, selected from Phaidon's Art in Time, that found artists responding to the aftermath of troubled political times...”   

Ai Weiwei: The artwork that made me the most dangerous person in China
“In 2009, the dissident artist created a work to honour the thousands of children who died in the Sichuan earthquake. He recalls how the project, Remembering, angered China’s rulers – and changed his career for ever…” Listen to the related podcast.

Why Authoritarians Attack the Arts
The New York Times
“ Hitler understood, artists play a distinctive role in challenging authoritarianism. Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders. Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value.”

Artists At Risk Connection (ARC)
Artists speak for all of us, but artistic freedom is under assault. ARC supports artists everywhere so they can live and work without fear.

Artwatch Africa
Arterial Network 
Artwatch Africa aims to assert, promote and defend artist rights and freedom of creative expression for artists and cultural practitioners in Africa. Artwatch Africa is premised on the understanding that freedom of expression is an essential condition for creative practice in the arts, and that to promote freedom of expression is to advance democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms on the continent. Artwatch Africa has produced "How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa," a meditation on the artistic health of the continent, as lived and examined from twenty-five authors representing fourteen countries.

International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) 
Based in Norway, the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an independent organisation of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.)

City of Asylum 
Based in Pittsburgh, PA, the organization City of Asylum creates a thriving community for writers, readers, and neighbors. We provide sanctuary to endangered literary writers, so that they can continue to write and their voices are not silenced. 

National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)   
NCAC’s mission is to promote freedom of thought, inquiry and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms.

Resources & Opportunities

Social Emotional Learning Innovation Fund
Deadline: March 22 

NoVo Foundation, in partnership with Education First and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, aims to seed projects that foster social and emotional competencies in students in grades PK-12 for $5,000 for classroom or school-level initiatives or $25,000 for district-level initiatives. Learn more, read the RFP and FAQs, and apply now

Film Screenings: “Walk in my Shoes” 
“Walk in my Shoes” is a film of the Theater of Witness performance created with and performed by four Philadelphia police and three community members.  The performance explores societal wounds and shares the performers’ stories and visions of the future. Watch trailer and learn more.

March 17, 2pm - The Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA
The screening will be followed by discussion with Theater of Witness Artistic Director Teya Sepinuck, Altovise Love-Craighead, an Inspector with 
a local police department, and moderator Hugh Taft-Morales, Philadelphia Ethical Society. Free, but donations encouraged. Donations will be split between Theater of Witness and EMIR.

May 6, 7:30pm - Pendle Hill Quaker Studies Center, 338 Plush Mill Rd, Wallingford, PA 

Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards 
Deadline: March 25, 2019

Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders is the global awards for innovation in local peacebuilding. Through the annual awards, Peace Direct offers international recognition for organizations trying new or different peacebuilding approaches or new organisations doing peacebuilding where it hasn’t been done before. 

“Imaginings: A DIY Guide to Arts-Based Community Dialogue” 
USDAC’s newest publication, “Imaginings: A DIY Guide to Arts-Based Community Dialogue” provides everything you need to know to host a vibrant, creative, equitable, and powerful community dialogue. The guide emerged from three cohort gatherings hosted from 2014-2016 called “Imaginings,” in which communities envisioned their ideal future and identified creative tactics to get there through arts-based methods.

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.

Cultural Rights: Tenth Anniversary Report
Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, United Nations Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights
To mark the tenth anniversary of the mandate on cultural rights and the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur provides an overview of the work of her mandate since its creation in 2009 and suggests strategies for advancing cultural rights during the next decade. 

Rotary Peace Fellowship Program Applications now being accepted for 2020
Deadline: May 31, 2019

The Rotary Peace Fellowship program is a fully funded master’s degree or certificate in peace and development studies. Every year, 100 individuals are selected to receive a generous award from The Rotary Foundation that funds tuition, living expenses, international field experience, and research/conference opportunities at one of the Rotary Peace Centers, located within seven leading universities around the world.

Voice4Thought (V4T) is a digital and offline platform that provides a space for voices from around the world to express their thoughts. V4T supports artists, academics, journalists, bloggers, and others who are engaged in socio-political change. 

JPS Fiction
JPSFiction is a creative enterprise to publish writings about the future of the natural world that is our earthly source and home. It is also a space for culturally-diverse and aware writers to share interests and ideas on issues of sustainability. 

Book Launch mini-symposium and concert:
Let’s Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp 
April 2, 12:30pm

Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University 
See for details about the book, podcast and event.
Stay tuned: IMPACT Virtual Learning Exchanges
Spanish: March 28
English: April 26, May 30-31, June 27-28

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 
Remembering John O’Neal
Honoring John O’Neal’s passing, we are honoring the work he has contributed to arts and peacebuilding field. Please visit our Acting Together - Theatre & Conflict Transformation Youtube channel, and listen and watch as he discusses performance and peacebuilding.  Please view his Acting Together case study, curator profile, and 2012 profile updates from the one-year anniversary of AT including John’s acceptance of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre.

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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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