Activating the Cultural Power of a Movement
On Oct 9, 2020, Arts & Democracy, The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture and NOCD-NY convened for Activating the Cultural Power of a Movement, an event that showcased inspiring, movement based organizations across the country. Leaders from racial justice, environmental justice, immigrant rights, and economic justice groups shared best practices, lessons learned, and strategies for building movement power with arts and culture. Here's a link to the event recording. Participants also shared resources on the non partisan call, which we have compiled below.
Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in community, place, tradition, or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. ROOTS calls for social and economic justice and works to dismantle all forms of oppression – everywhere. Founded at the Highlander Research and Education Center, ROOTS shares resources and information and amplifies creative organizing in the South such as: Women Engaged, (Georgia); Spirit House (North Carolina), Art to Action (working in Tampa, Tennessee, Houston), and the BlackRadioProject (Mississippi). Artists are engaging through street theater, PSAs, virtual space animations, poetry slams, performances at lines at the polls, and more. You can find arts and activism tools on their website here.
Highlander serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South, working with people fighting for justice, equality and sustainability, supporting their efforts to take collective action to shape their own destiny. Through popular education, language justice, participatory research, cultural work, and intergenerational organizing, they help create spaces where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible.
Make the Road New York is building the power of immigrant and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice. Their model integrates four core strategies for concrete change that millions of families feel every day: legal and survival services; transformative education; community organizing; and policy innovation.
The Movement for Black Lives was created as a space for Black organizations across the country to debate and discuss the current political conditions, develop shared assessments of what political interventions are necessary in order to achieve key policy, cultural and political wins, and convene organizational leadership in order to debate and co-create a shared movement wide strategy. Art and artists are committed to helping the world reimagine public safety. The BREATHE Act and The Frontline are part of M4BL’s Electoral Justice Project. The Frontline Election Defenders is connecting thousands of volunteers with voters to overcome suppression, prepare to turn out on election day, and prepare together for whatever scenario comes next.
Poor People's Campaign is a transformational response to the needs and demands of the 140 million people who are poor or low-income and are struggling to make ends meet in this country. Arts and culture, including visual art and music, are key in the organizing work, with the importance of narrative—sharing and hearing stories. Poor People’s Campaign’s Jubilee Platform is a moral policy agenda to heal and transform America. Their 
Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Voters research brief looks at the voting behaviors of these millions of people. If you want to connect with others who are protecting the polls in your state, find more information here.
Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. Its focus on distributed visual strategy and action art has been integral to building power, shifting public opinion on climate, and influencing primary elections. Creative skills, including design, video and physical action art are key parts of the work. Common visual strategy across a decentralized movement helps build power together.

With almost 6000 members, the Arts For Change Facebook group disseminates information about socially engaged art and teaching, debates the issues, celebrates work being done "outside the frame," and offers resources. Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame by Beverly Naidus is published by New Village Press.
Liberation House's The Black Joy Experience seeks to build holistic energy praxis in movement and organizing spaces as a mechanism to cultivate joy, love, healing, resiliency and a commitment to envision the next 50-100 years of Black and Brown cultural, political and economic futures.
Join the global Climate Clock movement, an art/science project and powerful tool to pressure government and corporations around the world to meet our crucial climate deadlines and uplift our climate lifelines.
The Climate Justice Alliance pilots solutions and organizes collectively to shut down the extractive economy. They organize communities toward resilient, regenerative and equitable economies, inspiring and organizing bold actions on the frontlines of climate change.
El Puente’s Global Justice Institute codifies four decades of pedagogy and methodology of nurturing leaders for peace and justice. They host practitioners and publish tools and frameworks focused on: arts for social justice, cultural organizing, community & youth development, environmental advocacy, climate change, and more.
Hidden Truth Project is dedicated to engaging and empowering individuals impacted by invisible and visible disabilities, such as epilepsy, through the arts. It raises social consciousness on the injustices and stigmatization directed towards these members of our community. Hidden Trust Project advocates for accessibility, courage, collaboration, empathy and provokes thought.
Over one hundred musicians and industry professionals are banding together to jumpstart Lift Every Vote, a musician challenge, clarion call to action, and viral month of daily sunset performances across the nation intended to inspire civic joy and voter turnout. 
#lifteveryvote | @lifteveryvote2020

“A Message from the Future II: The Years of Repair” is an animated short film that dreams of a future in which 2020 is a historic turning point, where the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and global uprisings against racism drive us to build back a better society in which no one is sacrificed and everyone is essential. Produced by Naomi Klein, illustrated by Molly Crabapple.
NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign is a multi-pronged effort to get Indigenous lands back into Indigenous hands and achieve justice for Indigenous people. NDN offers a webinar and four calls-to-action that launched on Indigenous Peoples' Day 2020. Actions include marches, word art streetscapes, speakers and entertainment.
New Village Press promotes and enriches public discussion and understanding of issues vital to the development of healthy, creative, and socially just communities, publishing transdisciplinary books that animate emerging movements in societal transformation.
No Border Wall Coalition is fighting to stop the unconstitutional seizure of public and private lands along the southern border, especially in Laredo, Texas, and to stop the construction of the Border Wall. Their Defund the Wall, Fund Our Future campaign shows people what the costs are of this ineffective project, with funds better directed to meet the communities’ actual needs such as housing, healthcare and education.
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) worked with the Alliance of Families for Justice and designers Karl Orozco and Tahnee Pantig to create a fold-out poster illustrating how family members of people who are incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people can have an impact on legal system reform and ultimately end mass incarceration through voting and other forms of civic engagement.
The Southern Movement Assembly is a broad base of Southern-based leaders and communities who live and fight on many frontlines. With artful, cultural advocacy, they believe that we are stronger together, and participate in grassroots democracy to exercise political power at the community, city, state, and regional levels. View the Southern Spring action toolkit.
Trans Day of Resilience art project features art and poetry celebrating trans resilience by trans Black, Indigenous and People of Color. It is an annual culture shift campaign to center BIPOC trans folks, celebrate their power and resilience, and create space to grieve and mourn murdered kin.
Painting: Glori Tuitt
Tuesdays in October - 6:30-8:30 PM EST.
Creative Justice Initiative's Conversations on Culture: Race, Myth, Art = Justice are designed to address the systemic injustices that continue to oppress and limit the possibilities of the majority of the nation’s Black, Afro Latin, Latinx, Native, Asian, LGBTQIA+/Two Spirit, People with Disabilities, and economically poor White communities. Free, register here.
Saturday, October 17, 2020, 10am-11:30am Pacific
Monday, October 26, 2020, 9am-10:30am Pacific
Friday, November 6, 2020, 2pm-3:30pm Pacific
StoryCenter is hosting free Democracy Stories webinars, to listen to and gather inspiring stories of your work in sustaining democracy in local communities, regions, and countries around the world.
Friday & Saturday October 23rd - 24th
The Kairos Center Presents: A Moral Policy in a Time of Crisis. The conference will look at the economic and historic contexts of the policies that have brought us to this point and what the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is calling forth in the Poor People’s Campaign Jubilee Platform. The conference will also feature arts and culture to push forward the Justice Jubilee Principles.
Friday, October 23rd, 2020
Rock the Border, Stop the Wall is a 2,000 mile concert to unite the border, get out the vote, and build a brighter, border future. The virtual concert is organized by the No Border Wall Coalition as an effort to stitch together cultural organizers and activists across the southern border and build stronger communities in the lead up to the election and after.
November 1, 2020
Good Trouble, a term borrowed from the late John Lewis, is an audio play with music, poetry, verbatim dialogue, and audience participation. This world premiere theatrical event uses the exact words of Gen Z community organizers to explore how youth activism is changing the landscape of our nation. Organize your own public gathering and listen to the piece together as a form of performance protest.
350 Tacoma includes artful activism focused on racial & climate justice. Artful Activism plays a role in supporting all campaigns, including art workshops on reimagining the future free of fossil fuels.
The Colorado Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow is an annual event in Boulder, CO, with music and dance, as well as cultural workshops and political commentary, creating space for Indigenous people to thrive in community and solidarity together.
Art2Action in partnership with Houston in Action is supporting 12 projects in various artistic disciplines that connect artists with organizers to activate Youth, Black, Latinx, & Asian American communities to register & turn-out to vote in Houston, TX (and beyond). Collectively, their hope is that these artist-led, cultural organizing projects will mobilize over 100,000 new voters this year.
Kentucky Stands Together
The Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX) stands with the family of Breonna Taylor and in support of Black Lives in this video showing solidarity from across the state with the Black women in Louisville who are leading the movement. RUX builds a network of strong personal relationships to bridge cultures, grow social capital, and unite Kentuckians.
MOTO VOTO harnesses the power of motorcycle culture to create a roadmap for social change. Designed to raise awareness about and critique voter disenfranchisement, anyone can cast a symbolic vote in this motorcycle voting station. The station will be popping up in various public spaces around Los Angeles through Election Day.
El Puente’s grassroots campaign, with a 5-Point Action Platform, engages youth organizers, community members, elected leaders, academic partners, local organizations, artists, and schools to address the environmental crisis of toxic air quality in Los Sures, Brooklyn.
UPROSE puts frontline communities in positions of leadership in movements around climate justice, displacement threats through rezoning, and more. UPROSE is an intergenerational, multi-racial, nationally-recognized, women of color led, grassroots organization that promotes sustainability in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Thank you to The Puffin Foundation for your support of this program.