Author(s): E. Stern, Lynn
Date of Publication: Oct 20, 2021

In April 2002, on the heels of the Human Genome Project’s historic announcement about the completion of a human genome “rough draft,” Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery opened Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics. The exhibition brought together more than 50 recent and new artworks representing artists’ imaginings of the social, ethical, and economic ramifications of genetic and genome research. To spur dialogue about the provocative and potentially polarizing issues, the Henry, together with its community collaborators, devised and implemented a cross

Author(s): Korza, Pam
Date of Publication: June 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. This paper draws from the experiences and dialogues of

Author(s): Boggs, Grace Lee
Date of Publication: 2003

In October 2003, Detroit-based activist, cultural worker, and octogenarian Grace Lee Boggs energized and inspired a national gathering of artists, arts organization and community leaders, and activists with her speech at Animating Democracy's National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue. Boggs described a United States that is increasingly jobless; that jeopardizes its youth in a problem-wrought education system; and that is resented for its economic, military, and cultural domination. "Can we create a new paradigm of our selfhood and our nationhood?" she implored. In Boggs&

Author(s): Assaf, Andrea
Date of Publication: February 2004

In “What Happened in New Orleans? Reflections on the National Convergence of Artists, Educators and Organizers,” Animating Democracy staff member Andrea Assaf reflects on her experience at the National Convergence of Artists, Educators, and Activists. Inspired by Grace Lee Boggs and conversations on art and social change at the Animating Democracy National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue, the National Convergence attracted more than 200 people to New Orleans inJanuary 2004. In her article, Assaf reflects on the impetus, unfolding, and impacts of this convening.

Author(s): Lacy, Suzanne
Date of Publication: 2002

In November 2001, artist, writer, and educator, Suzanne Lacy participated in an Animating Democracy Learning Exchange in Chicago. She joined more than a hundred artists, cultural organization leaders, community partners, and scholars from around the country who were involved in arts-based civic dialogue work, most through the Animating Democracy Lab. In the shadow of September 11th and stimulated by artist Marty Pottenger’s exploration of the meaning of U.S. citizenship at the gathering, Lacy considers anew what it means to participate as an artist in civic life. Her essay, &ldquo

Author(s): Romney, Patricia
Date of Publication: Nov 15, 2021

Dialogue specialist and clinical/organizational psychologist Patricia Romney offers an accessible review of the ideas of selected historic and contemporary philosophers and dialogue theorists including: Socrates and Plato, Mikhail Bakhtin, Paulo Freire, David Bohm, and David Isaacs, and considers the implications of their ideas for arts-based civic dialogue practice.  Romney shares her observations about a production of West Side Story that was never carried out due to a polarizing debate that ensued in the community.  West Side Story was seen alternately as an extraordinary

Author(s): Kuftinec, Sonja
Date of Publication: 2002

Animating Democracy, in collaboration with Alternate ROOTS, commissioned theater writer, scholar, director, and dramaturg Sonja Kuftinec to write this article, prompted by the Writers Institute at Alternate ROOTS's spring 2002 FOCAS conference, where Sonja also presented. The conference provided artists and writers a chance to explore concerns and interests about critical and reflective writing related to civically and socially engaged art. Kuftinec weaves conversations from this gathering and other recent ones, demonstrating momentum on this subject and offering a context for Animating

Author(s): Korza, Pam; Assaf, Andrea; Bacon, Barbara Schaffer
Date of Publication: Nov 15, 2021

Drawing significantly on the experience of projects within Animating Democracy, as well as a broader sphere of community-based cultural work, this essay considers what value art and humanities can uniquely bring to discourse on important civic issues. It shares some of what the Animating Democracy Initiative learned in its initial phase about the opportunities and challenges of this arena of work, and how Animating Democracy's thinking was evolving regarding the role of the arts in civic dialogue.  First published on the 

Author(s): Americans for the Arts
Date of Publication: December 2005

Representatives of the 12 small and mid-sized organizations participating in Americans for the Arts Exemplar Program convened in December 2005 in Santa Fe New Mexico. Recognized for outstanding cultural work in their communities and in the field based on their participation in Animating Democracy and the Working Capital Fund, the groups explored topic areas related to aesthetic investigation, institutional health and capacity, and civic engagement.  From the convening, a report was compiled highlighting the event from beginning to end.  With implications for the entire field, the

Author(s): Atlas, Caron
Date of Publication: August 2007

In May, 2007, grantees from the Artography and Animating Democracy/Working Capital Fund Exemplar programs, both supported by The Ford Foundation, met together in Chicago to share their experiences and consider ways they might draw on the collective power of their work.  The resulting report, Shaping a Critical Discourse, written by Caron Atlas, explores the topics of aesthetics, new ways of working, and leadership taken up at the cohort-designed gathering. The convening revealed and embraced the creative tensions and contradictions of working in the context of changing