From Stephen Duncombe, co-founder of the Center for Artistic Activism:
“I’m very interested in metrics which are relative to what artistic activists want to do\…I think it’s too arrogant to say, ‘here’s the one path to success’ – that doesn’t get to the nuances of how artistic activism works. But I do think we need to demand that people have an idea of what they want to have happen and have criteria, their own criteria, for measurements of: are we moving closer to it or farther away from it? Because without those measurements how do you know if what you’re doing actually works?”
Photo credit: Elliot Crown (Pictured: Elliot Crown in costume).
Key takeaways from episode 5:
How do we know when something has succeeded or failed? We “measure” it with parameters called **metrics. **
Everyone has different metrics of success and failure; it’s up to you to choose your own. These may be statistical (i.e. how many people showed up to my event?), but they could also be more intangible (i.e. a story someone shared about changing their actions).
Remember the affect/effect relationship when figuring out your metrics of success and failure. If someone told you that your work made them feel a certain way, great (that’s the affect). But did they do something different (that’s the effect) based on that feeling? We’re shooting for a tangible effect in artistic activism.
Going back to your objectives/goals can help you to determine your metrics.
[Diana Arce Full Interview Transcript](https://c4aa.org/2016/09/diana-arce/)
[Elliot Crown Full Interview Transcript](https://c4aa.org/2017/01/elliot-crown/)
[André Leipold Full Interview Transcript](https://c4aa.org/2016/08/andre-leipold/)
For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: https://c4aa.org
This was a mini-series, and this was the last episode. The Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions will return to this feed in the future.
Thanks again to Sarah J Halford, creator and host of Creative Resistance: The Podcast Mini-Series
Who is Sarah J Halford?
Sarah J Halford is an academic and activist based in Boston. She has worked closely with the Center for Artistic Activism as a research fellow, conducting fieldwork for the Æfficacy project. Additionally, she worked as a fellow of the Urban Democracy Lab and acted as lead researcher in projects for the British Council. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate of Sociology at Brandeis University, where she is conducting research on social movements and culture.
Sarah received a Master of Arts in 2017 from the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she created and produced a podcast mini-series, entitled Creative Resistance, as her thesis. After collecting interviews with art activists from around the world, she identified several recurring themes in her data and dedicated an episode in the mini-series to each of them. Creative Resistance is meant to act as a widely-accessible pedagogical resource for artists and activists alike, and is an example of the growing trend of research projects that utilize free and public mediums for dissemination.
She extends her deepest gratitude to Stephen Duncombe and the entire team at the Center for Artistic Activism for providing the support, opportunity, and platform necessary for her work.
Wow, that was great right?
Well, your donations help programs like this happen. The Center for Artistic Activism is a 501.3(c) non-profit – we do this because we love it. If you love it to – donate! A little bit, (or a lot). We make it easy and we have great thank you gifts: c4aa.org/donate
From Avram (on the context of the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic):
“Well, it was pretty nightmarish actually. In 1984 – it was before Rock Hudson was diagnosed, Reagan had never mentioned the word, it was a very private moment to be experiencing what I did...Of course, I thought I was going to die myself – there was no HIV test back then, so you just had to make assumptions about yourself. And you have to realize people were literally dying in hospital corridors and being thrown out of their apartments and dying on the street. It was really bad! It’s impossible to understand how bad it was.”
Photo credit: Avram Finkelstein (pictured at center, circa 1985)
Key takeaways from episode 4:
Context can make or break any action. It is perhaps the single most important element of artistic activism, as there’s a context for your audience, your tactics, and even logistical things like location and the weather.
The various contexts that we’re working with need to be on our minds consistently when creating artistic activism, and a helpful way to do that is to practice shifting our focus from the little picture to the big picture and back again.
The more you look, the more contextual elements you’ll see that need to be taken into consideration.
For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: c4aa.org
Enjoying this show? We’re glad. Your donations help make things like this happen. The Center for Artistic Activism is a 501.3(c) non-profit – we do this because we love it. If you love it to – donate! A little bit, (or a lot). We make it easy and we have great thank you gifts: c4aa.org
Increasingly, we are hearing from artists in our network in the U.S and around the world that they want to use their creative skills to promote social and environmental justice. However, art schools often don’t provide the training to help them do this effectively, and so they are seeking to build their knowledge and practice in this area.
Activists have also been saying that traditional advocacy isn’t working, and that their colleagues are getting tired of using the same techniques to fight huge battles. They want to use more creative tactics, and understand that changing culture works to help change policy, but they’re not sure how to do this effectively, and long-term at scale.
And why support the Center for Artistic Activism in particular?
The Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA) is a 9-year-old nonprofit dedicated to helping artists, activists and everyone else maximize their impact and efficacy in bringing about social change. Through our pioneering trainings, mentoring and research, we help people understand how to effectively, and creatively, use their own skills to create the change they want to see.
Here’s what we have done in the past year:
This year we made an effort to address our biggest weakness – our capacity to reach all the people who want our help. Because we’re a very small team, we can only reach so many people each year. To change this we initiated Macedonia and West African Academies for Creative Activism, helping local artists and activists develop and run their own artistic activism training programs to help citizens fight corruption through culture.We’re using this model to expand our reach everywhere.
We also grew our team, adding two part-time staff so we can be more responsive and available to all of the artists, activists, grantmakers and organizations who want to know how to use creative activism to make their work more effective (and more fun).
Our online tool, Actipedia.org is an open-access, community-generated wiki to document, share, and inspire Creative Activism. This year we both expanded and improved that database.
To change how Artistic Activism is cultivated and supported, we trained and mentored over 70 Human Right Grantmakers from around the world who fund social justice campaigns and want to support more creative activism. We also mentored and supported artists through our Artistic Activism Grant Program. We funded and guided five South African artists as they conceived of and implemented creative projects aimed at challenging stigma around sex workers rights.
Through our Artistic Activism Accelerator Program, we mentored advocacy groups working on equal access to medicines, harm reduction in the opioid crisis, and human rights in the U.S, South Africa, and The Netherlands. This is on-the-ground assistance with developing campaigns and pulling them off in real world situations.
We conducted groundbreaking research into the impact of creative activism, including the first ever public Creative Activism Experiment on the comparative efficacy and afficacy of artistic activism vs more traditional forms of activist intervention.
The Aefficacy Whitepaper analyzed and summarized the past 9 years of in-depth interviews we have done with artists and activists, and organizes the ways that they create and assess their projects, providing insight into what successful artistic activism looks like.
We have also completed user experience prototypes on our Aeffect App, a digital tool for artists and activists to conduct their own self-assessment to understand the impact of their work.
One of the things that people have said about our work with them this year:
“We’re blown away by what you did for us. You helped us move away from the same old activist strategies and have really meaningful, effective conversations. And it was fun! Which is critical to protect against burn-out. Working with you was a great reboot and recharge, and we want you to come train all of our staff and partners.”
– Annette Gaudino, HCV/HIV Project Co-Director, Treatment Action Group
Some of other collaborators, alumni and colleagues sent in videos. Some short clips here:
C4AA Helped Me - YouTube
So What’s Next, in 2019?
Next year we turn 10 years old! We are a “tween”. And we have big plans and a big vision for what we’re going to accomplish in the next 10 years.
In 2019, we plan to:
Train! Provide tools, training and resources for thousands of global artists and activists to use to implement and improve their creative activism. These include a new short-form video series, guidebooks, and our How to Win book.
Multiply the Impact!: Launch the first two international Academies for Creative Activism, in the western Balkans and in West Africa. These totally new frameworks will help people train their own communities to do effective creative action work, around anti-corruption, human rights, access to medicines, and gender equality.
Show How and Why It Works! Conduct and publish research to understand the true impact of artistic activism, and provide Creative Action Impact tools to enable individuals and groups (you!) to self-assess the impact of their creative activism projects.
Connect!: Further activate our global network of over 1500 practitioners, so that they can help eachother through sharing success stories and skills.
These are the first steps in our 10-year plan to completely transform activism and advocacy work, by helping those working for social and environmental justice understand how to best use culture, art and creativity to create lasting change.
But we need support. While we’re doing all of this, we’re still a small organization supporting much of this work through your tax-deductible donations.
Please consider donating to the Center for Artistic Activism again this year. Through the match campaign, anything you give will be doubled. And please share with your networks! If you know anyone who cares about social and environmental change, and would want to help, please tell them how they can be supportive.
Creative Resistance is a special edition podcast mini-series in affiliation with the Center for Artistic Activism and is hosted by Research Fellow, Sarah J Halford.
In this episode, we meet Diana Arce, who is an artist, researcher, and activist based in Berlin.
Diana’s also the creator of Politaoke, a karaoke-style participatory performance in which audience members are invited to step into the shoes of politicians from their region by delivering portions of political speeches.
You’ll hear more from Diana in the coming episodes, but you can read her full interview with the Center for Artistic Activism here. If you want to know more, Diana and others are featured in our great Artist-Activist Interviews as well. And be sure to check out her website for more of her incredible works of artistic activism!
No matter if you’re an artist who wants to use your work for the greater good, an activist who wants to get creative, or someone with zero experience in either area but is really concerned about an issue – artistic activism is for you because it’s for everyone.
Artistic activism utilizes the affect/effect relationship. Affect, as in feelings, effect as in results. So, people see the art and they feel something that motivates them to do something.
Objectives are the smaller, more attainable accomplishments that are necessary steps toward goals, the bigger accomplishments. So, we can start thinking about what overall goals we want the work to accomplish (i.e. stop systemic racism! Make feminism intersectional!, etc.), and then figure out the necessary objectives that we need to reach before that can happen.
And, artistic activism has been used for years and years by people from all types of actions and movements, so creating this work is actually a continuation of efforts from activists of prior generations.
Ibrahima Amadou Niang (@IbrahimaANiang) is the Head of the Guinea Country Office at Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and participated in C4AAs 2016 School for Creative Activism in New York City. The following year he performed at two major literary festivals. Originally from Senegal, Ibou works on social justice issues through his work as an NGO activist and through his writing.
Art Action Academy alumni Cédric Wilfrid Codo has been using media for social change, working with African youth, women and girls. “I am working on a cultural education project for girls and children in schools, on the presence of women in culture and sport (promotion and training) and finally on media that gives visibility to all this. I am convinced that the projects of the future will be projects that will bring together Anglophones and Francophones on projects in French. It will change the world.”