Working Guide Trend Papers

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Working Guide Trend Papers are a growing collection of new and extant papers by leaders in and chroniclers of the field. Papers offer snapshot descriptions of various types of arts for change work within the arts, community development, civic engagement, and social justice fields, as well as work focused on particular issues. Click here to view Trend Papers BY TOPIC.

Authors: Mark W. Kidd
Publication Date: January 10, 2013
Mark Kidd’s own cross-sector work in arts and regional development lends valuable socio-economic and environmental context to MicroFest: Appalachia’s many rich examples and experiences.  In his essay, Kidd contrasts a current national creative placemaking trend which emphasizes economic and physical development with creative placemaking in Central Appalachia that is grounded in community-based arts and aims to establish a civic and creative infrastructure capable of taking on and sustaining a variety of projects, including economic development, in an ongoing way.
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sunrise ceremony
Authors: Sonny Ganaden
Publication Date: August 30, 2013
Sonny Ganaden—printmaker, lawyer, writer, and resident of Honolulu—weaves history and issues of contemporary Hawai`i to offer context for MicroFest: Honolulu’s look at the role art and artists play in creating and sustaining healthy communities. Keeping in view the U.S. overthrow of this once sovereign monarchy, Ganaden points out that many residents of Honolulu consider their home neither isolated nor American (two descriptors used to describe MicroFest’s various host cities).
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Pam Korza
Publication Date: June 5, 2013
This paper synthesizes key insights from MicroFest: USA—part festival, part learning exchange—orchestrated in 2012–2013 by the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) to take a fresh look at the roles of art, culture, and artists in creating healthy vibrant communities. MicroFest shone a light on a spectrum of cultural production, including ensemble theaters, that is traditionally under the radar in official or conventional creative placemaking strategies, but that constitutes a critical part of the cultural ecosystem.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Helen De Michiel
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Open space documentary is an emerging framework for community-based media. Intentional participatory media experiments are proliferating across rapidly developing and evolving distribution platforms.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Ferdinand Lewis
Publication Date: January 27, 2013
There is a growing trend among innovative organizations to use participatory art-making programs to increase civic engagement, due to the wide variety of positive outcomes such programs engender. Participatory art-making experiences can have a profound impact on communities. They can build social networks, encourage new leaders, increase the quality of community life, enhance the lives of individuals, and engage citizens in new and profound ways. Three case examples illustrate the ways in which participatory art-making programs can have a positive impact on community life.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Jon Catherwood-Ginn and Bob Leonard
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
When governmental and civic entities employ the arts to engage people in public processes, they often find new and effective ways to motivate participation, make decisions, and solve problems.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Erin Potts
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Musicians are powerful allies who leverage their activities in ways that amplify the messages and strategies of social justice movements and that draw the necessary resources—creativity, targeted audiences, press, funding—to make change possible; they do this best when they have support, strategy, and tools. Inspired by a desire to work on social change and to help raise money for the causes and issues they care about, musicians are contributing publicly in powerful and concrete ways: They lend their celebrity to movements and issues.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Jamie Haft
A growing number of colleges and universities are expanding and deepening the role that publicly engaged scholarship in the humanities, arts, and design can play in contributing to positive change in the communities and regions within which higher education institutions exist. This paper provides an overview of how this is happening, largely through mutually beneficial partnerships between campuses and communities.
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Authors: Michael Premo
Publication Date: October 18, 2012
As artist, cultural worker, and organizer, Michael Premo offers a prismatic lens through which Detroit appears as an “incubator of possibility,” a place where an affirmative path forward is being forged by creativity.  He reflects on the exemplary work of The Alley Project, Detroit Summer, Matrix Theatre Company, and Detroit Future Youth to highlight how young people are stepping up as the next generation of artist-activists, leaders, and perpetuators of the character and spirit that is uniquely Detroit.  They are adding their own fresh vision on creative process and product.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Lori Lobenstine
Publication Date: January 10, 2014
As a long-time activist and co-founder of the Boston-based Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI), Lori Lobenstine discusses making meaning and creating change in the public sphere through the integration of social justice strategies with art, design thinking, and social practice.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Nato Thompson
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Artists who are committed to social justice through their work must navigate a complex contemporary art world characterized by numerous political positions and aesthetic expectations. In this paper, Nato Thompson observes two overarching approaches taken by artists—strategic and tactical—that operate against a political and economical infrastructure.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Shannon Stewart
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
In towns all across the United States, young people are using music and art to make interesting, creative, and positive things happen in their communities. They are punks, rappers, educators, singer-songwriters, artists, and community organizers who carve out safe creative spaces for people to come together. This paper by Shannon Stewart characterizes youth-based music organizations that are fostering civic engagement through music. Stewart provides a current view of these groups as preface to the 2007 All-Ages Movement Project Project Report.
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Publication Date: October 11, 2013
Filled with resources, blogs, current events and much more on arts in the prison community; the Prison Art Coalition is a valuable tool to create awareness and promote the arts for the incarcerated.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota)
Publication Date: June 4, 2012
For centuries, cultural assets have been inextricably linked with the wellbeing of Native peoples. Native arts and culture are fundamental to the societal fabric of tribal communities, and cultural expression is a means to ensure cultural continuity and the very survival of Indigenous peoples and sovereign nations. This paper describes how asset-based organizing in Native communities and nations focuses on cultural renewal as essential for creating systemic change.
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Authors: Gerard Stropnicky
Publication Date: May 30, 2013
This is the second of two essays by Gerard Stropnicky, director, writer, actor, and co-founder of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) that reflect on NET’s MicroFest: USA. In this essay, Stropnicky looks at the work of socially engaged ensemble theaters featured at MicroFest: USA to examine how ensemble values and practices influence the work and its impact in the context of place-based revitalization and renewal. He looks at the work through three lenses: intention, values, and language of engagement.
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