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Alumni Spotlight: Ummi A. Yakubu

Art Action Academy Conakry, Guinea 2017

Photo of Ummi Yakubu by Ishaya Bako

Ummi is a young professional in the interactive multimedia and design industry. Although her training is in animation, game design & development, Ummi’s passion for development has seen her engage in projects that range from constructing houses for impoverished families in Alabama with Habitat for Humanity to 3D printing prosthetic limbs for amputees within Nigeria with a non-profit she co-founded with her brother, the Cyberlogik Foundation.

Her work include motion sensor games used for tourism and medical rehabilitation, web based games used for advocacy on the impact of healthy eating, as well as mobile educational children’s books used to improve vocabulary. As a video editor, Ummi has worked on various award winning documentary narratives including Silent Tears, a documentary on gender based violence, and Uprooted a documentary that sheds light on changing gender norms and cultural practices as a result of the Boko-Haram conflict in Borno State.

Ummi is currently working on a mobile game that’s aimed at increasing civic responsibility. “It’ll be the first project where the C4AA workshop teachings will be used in every step of the project. So, I’m excited to see if/how the outcome would differ from before the workshop, and what is to be learned from that.” Ummi said that concepts from the workshop now form an integral part of her process for planning and executing her projects, even beginning in the advocacy stages.

“It’ll be really had to find any part of the workshop that wasn’t useful!”

Below are some of her C4AA favorites that she mentioned:

Cost-Benefit Mapping: Really gives a meaningful insight into what I’m asking my target audience to give up as compared to what they gain in return. It has helps in framing the messaging because I’m conscious of what the stakes are.

Power Mapping: It is awesome at helping me effectively leverage my network to get stakeholders’ attention.

Creative Mapping: the embodiment of a great tool that helps think outside the box; it completely makes the box disappear!

Steps of Persuasion: an effective tool in figuring out what the project’s purpose is, its strengths and the kind of people I need to collaborate with to mitigate its weaknesses; in order to push my target audience further towards the desired action.

Ummi also said that Sound Boarding from the workshop was incredibly helpful to her. “Discussing ideas and strategies with people that understand that both the art and the activism components of the project are equally as important, it makes all the difference in the world.”

“The AAA workshop has given me tools that help me balance between the effect-focused world of activism, and the affect-heavy world of art. It has definitely been a positive turning point in my activism.”

Help Us Conduct More Workshops

Help C4AA train and support more activists and artists with your donation. Your contributions make a difference, thank you.

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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.

EPISODE 5 — SUCCESS & FAILURE

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 heard from art activists Diana Arce, Elliot Crown, Mark Read of The Illuminator, and André Leipold of the Center for Political Beauty.

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/)

Music By (in order of appearance):

  • Theme: “Drum Flute Loop in G Minor” by Enoe
  • “Golden Hour” by Podington Bear
  • “Sepia” by Podington Bear
  • “Hip Horns with Drums” by Ryan Cullinane

Music courtesy of freemusicarchive.org

Special thanks to Professor Stephen Duncombe.

For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: https://c4aa.org

THAT’S IT!

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.

Donate

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

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Center for Artistic Activism | News by Steve Lambert, Sarah J. Halford - 8M ago

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.

EPISODE 4 — CONTEXT

In this episode, we heard from art activists: Ron Goldberg, Elliot Crown, Avram Finkelstein

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.

Music By (in order of appearance):

  • Theme: “Drum Flute Loop in G Minor” by Enoe
  • “Conveyor Belt” by Podington Bear
  • “Adventure Darling” by Gillicuddy
  • “Please Listen Carefully” by Jahzzar

Music courtesy of freemusicarchive.org

Special thanks to Professor Stephen Duncombe.

For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: c4aa.org

Donate Now

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

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Why support artistic activism right now?

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).

Webinars and podcasts allow us to reach more people in an ongoing way. We reached more people than ever with 9 new free training webinars, and launched a podcast mini-series on the basics of Artistic Activism at the end of October.

We published interviews with creative activists from around the world in our alumni network, and provided new opportunities for over 6000 global activists and artists to connect and share resources and skills.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Help Us Train More Artists and Activists

If you want to help C4AA continue to support more artists and activists, please donate. Your contributions really help.

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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.

Tactics & Strategies

In this episode, we hear from art activists Ron Goldberg, Joey Juschka, Diana Arce, André Leipold (Center for Political Beauty).

From Ron:

“You have to get into a room. Get in a room with people who maybe don’t think the same way as you, but who see the same problems. It’s about building that trust, that love, that knowledge-base.”

ACT UP protest of the FDA in 1988 Photo credit: [ACTUPny.org](http://www.actupny.org/)

## Major takeaways from episode 3:

A tactic is a thing that you do in order to reach an objective. In artistic activism, often times those tactics will be art-related.

A strategy is the overall plan for your work, which takes on different areas – often artistic activism takes on a cultural strategy, but there can be a legal strategy, political strategy, and so on. Strategies are also linked to goals, the big things that we want the work to accomplish. We create a strategy in order to direct the tactics and collect successful objectives along the way.

There is no one right way of approaching tactics and strategies in art for social change efforts. Ron Goldberg recognized that his tactics needed to be ready at a moment’s notice with the ability to be improvised, Joey Jushka wants her writing to be funny and imaginative, while Andre Leipold and Political Beauty want to throw you off your axis and provoke you into action.

Music By (in order of appearance):

  • Theme: “Drum Flute Loop in G Minor” by Enoe
  • “Please Listen Carefully” by Jahzzar
  • “Golden Hour” by Podington Bear
  • “Hip Horns with Drums” by Ryan Cullinane

Music courtesy of freemusicarchive.org

Special thanks to Professor Stephen Duncombe.

For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: c4aa.org

Donate

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

T H A N K S
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Center for Artistic Activism | News by Steve Lambert, Sarah J. Halford - 9M ago

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.

Episode 2: Audience!

In this episode, we heard from art activists Avram Finkelstein, Mark Read and Rachel Brown of The Illuminator, Diana Arce, and Beatrice Glow.

From Avram:

“First of all, I think that art that isn’t about communication is about class. So, if you’re an activist who’s making art and what you’re trying to do or say is not clear, you’re no better than being in a Gagosian Gallery. It’s not activism if it’s not understandable. So, clarity is essential to having an audience understand it.”

Avram Finkelstein | C4AA.org – photo credit ACTUPny.org

From Beatrice Glow:

“I talk about these domino-effects in a perfume shop, and that allures an audience that I find normally wouldn’t go into an art space. An art space presents this hierarchy, and in a shop it’s broken down into consumer language, which is I think becoming a universal, international language at this point. So, how do we find new ways of reaching out to folks? That’s the biggest challenge that I think educators and artists face today.”

Beatrice Glow | C4AA.org – photo credit – Beatrice Glow

Major takeaways from episode 2:
  • The audience is a key element in artistic activism; incorporating the audience into the work is what can take the art from a personal project to social activism.
  • We need to figure out who the audience or audiences are, and get as specific as possible.
  • Then, we need to investigate what kinds of signs, symbols, and codes resonate with them so that we can make artistic activism that is understandable to the people we’re trying to reach.

Avram Finkelstein Full Interview Transcript
Diana Arce Full Interview Transcript
Beatrice Glow Full Interview Transcript

Music By (in order of appearance):

  • Theme: “Drum Flute Loop in G Minor” by Enoe
  • “Adventure Darling” by Gillicuddy
  • “Conveyor Belt” by Podington Bear
  • “Please Listen Carefully” by Jahzzar

Music courtesy of freemusicarchive.org

Special thanks to Professor Stephen Duncombe.

For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: c4aa.org

Donate

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

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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!

Art activists in this episode:.

Diana Arce

Diana Arce Full Interview Transcript

Major takeaways from episode 1:

  • 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.
DONATE

Like this podcast? Help us out and donate a little something tax deductible to the C4AA

Credits

An additional art activist in this episode:

Avram Finkelstein

Avram Finkelstein Full Interview Transcript

Music By (in order of appearance):
Theme: “Drum Flute Loop in G Minor” by Enoe
“Sepia” by Podington Bear
“Adventure Darling” by Gillicuddy
“Please Listen Carefully” by Jahzzar

Music courtesy of freemusicarchive.org

Special thanks to Professor Stephen Duncombe.

Listen to more C4AA podcasts here.

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Enjoy C4AA’s podcasts? Donate now!

Pat and the Steve’s have been doing C4AA work around the world, so we haven’t seen new Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions episodes in some months. However, we have good news. C4AA Research Fellow Sarah J. Halford has delivered Creative Resistance – a podcast mini-series on the basics of artistic activism, as told by the practicioner’s themselves.

In each episode, Sarah explores a fundamental theme of artistic activism through interviews with art activists who discuss examples of their work and some invaluable lessons that they’ve learned along the way. The entire mini-series is guided by the expert theoretical and practical knowledge of C4AA co-founder, Stephen Duncombe.

Episode list:

  1. What is Artistic Activism?
  2. Audience
  3. Tactics and Strategies
  4. Context
  5. Success and Failure

Art activists in this episode:.

Diana Arce

Diana Arce Full Interview Transcript

Avram Finkelstein

Avram Finkelstein Full Interview Transcript

For more information on the Center for Artistic Activism, visit: c4aa.org

Music By:
Theme: “Drum Flute Loop in G Minor” by Enoe
Music courtesy of freemusicarchive.org

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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.
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Victoria Catalina brought her creative activism and graphic artist skills to C4AA’s 2016 Art Action Academy in Dublin, working to decriminalize sex work and workers, and has been working as a graphic designer and illustrator since then, often going back to sex worker rights and other activist themes in personal and commercial projects. Catalina has been designing for the Dutch sex workers union PROUD, and P&G292, a health organisation for sex workers in Amsterdam, among other collaborations.

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