Working Guide Trend Papers

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: Gerard Stropnicky
Publication Date: January 10, 2013
This is the first of two essays by Gerard Stropnicky, director, writer, actor, and co-founder of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET). Stropnicky provides a through-line across all three MicroFests, taking a focused look at the role of theater and “ensemble” practice in creative placemaking. In this first essay, he reflects on MicroFest experiences in Detroit and Appalachia. He addresses the question: Why NET and social change?
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Diana Coryat
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
Youth media is a diverse array of practices in which young people collaborate with artists and educators to express themselves creatively, communicate with peers across borders, and participate in community dialogue and problem solving. Social justice-focused youth media facilitates a root-cause analysis of “why things are the way they are,” has a vision of a more just and equitable society, and uses media to contest dominant narratives and to support systemic change. The process of creating and presenting media can be transformative for youth, educators, communities, and audiences.
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Authors: Polly Kahn
Publication Date: February 5, 2014
The role that American orchestras play in community life has been steadily expanding over the last several decades. Fresh approaches to community involvement both in the musical offerings of in- and after-school programs as well as engaging traditionally underserved populations have paved the way as orchestras grow in their civic and social roles. This paper by Polly Kahn of the League of American Orchestras illuminates how orchestras are responding to changing demographics, helping people come together in ways that cut across their differences.
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Authors: Maranatha Bivens
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced a wave of returning veterans suffering from both physical and emotional traumas as well as families, communities, and a society in need of ways to understand, adjust, and heal. Writer and “former military kid” Maranatha Bivens characterizes ways that art is raising awareness of the issues facing service members, bridging gaps in knowledge and communication between veterans and civilians, and offering veterans paths to healing and reintegration in family and community life.
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Authors: Erik Takeshita
Publication Date: May 30, 2013
In his essay, Erik Takeshita, Program Officer for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in the Twin Cities, explores the experience of MicroFest: New Orleans and observes that art requires four characteristics to have a positive, sustainable impact on community: Residents and communities are the agents of change, not the targets of change….Art is at the center….Place matters….Art works across sectors and is collaborative. Based on a panel held in the St.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Grady Hillman
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Largely led by community artists and arts organizations with long-standing commitments to applied arts practice with diverse marginalized populations, arts in corrections assume varied forms and intentions. Arts programs provide expressive and reflective opportunities that enable the incarcerated to examine the trajectory of their lives.
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Authors: The Society for the Arts in Healthcare
Publication Date: September 4, 2009
Arts in healthcare is a diverse, multidisciplinary field dedicated to transforming the experience of healthcare by integrating the arts into a wide variety of healthcare and community settings. This report outlines the various ways that arts have contributed to improved quality of care for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to mental health to chronic disease as well as the well being of an increasingly aging population.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: William Cleveland
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
The modern-day arts-based community development movement is founded on the belief that the arts can be a powerful agent of personal, institutional, and community change. Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the movement has grown from a very small and contained universe of intent and definition to become a widespread approach to both art making and community building. Many of the ideas considered radical in 1977 can now be found in the guidelines and policies of agencies and funders that serve communities.
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Authors: Lyz Crane
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
In this paper, Lyz Crane draws on the work of practitioners and researchers to characterize the field of arts-based community development in which arts and culture can help achieve place based change related to the physical, social, and economic dimensions of place.  From the premise that the existence of arts is considered a powerful end in itself, Crane then outlines the variety of ways that the actors and activities involved in arts and community development work can relate to and interact with each other to create sustainable communities.  Looking at the cultural ecology of place, creat
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Animating Democracy resource
Kristina Wong
Authors: Nancy Goldman, Ed.D.
Publication Date: November 27, 2013
In this paper, Nancy Goldman explores what is humor, what is funny, and the power of using humor in areas of social justice. America’s most popular humorists, including Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, have a long tradition of critiquing the dominant forces in society and ridiculing those in power. Since American society was built on the ideals of democracy but is awash in the realities of social and political imperfections, comedy can bring awareness to these discrepancies in a way that we can hear.
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Authors: Linda Frye Burnham
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
In this paper, long-time community arts chronicler Linda Frye Burnham offers snapshots of selected projects that help capture the range of community arts projects and programs happening today. They are led by veteran and up-and-coming artists and cultural organizations; new forms of interdisciplinary collectives; and arts and community agencies working in collaboration. Examples demonstrate how single projects, repeated community events, and ongoing programmatic and organizational efforts can effect community, civic, or social change.
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Authors: Caron Atlas
Publication Date: March 13, 2013
Caron Atlas' essay on MicroFest: Appalachia focuses on the connections between civic capacity, imagination, and moral economy in Appalachia.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Javiera Benavente with Rebecca Lena Richardson
Publication Date: July 23, 2012
Cultural organizing exists at the intersection of art and activism This paper explores the power of cultural organizing with examples of groups and individuals placing art and culture at the center of organizing strategies: organizing from a particular cultural identity, community of place, or worldview. Third World Majority collaborates with grassroots organizations in communities of color and indigenous communities to provide new media training that enables people to create media that speaks to their lived experiences and reflects their visions for their world.
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Authors: Paloma McGregor
Publication Date: April 11, 2013
Dance practitioners across the country are creating innovative opportunities for community, civic, and social engagement. Choreographer, organizer, and former Urban Bush Women company member Paloma McGregor highlights contemporary community-based dance practice; concert dance that is intentional in connecting to community members and issues; and programs where the next generation of socially engaged dance artists are incubated.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Edward Wemytewa
Native American artists and culture bearers brought Indigenous perspectives and critical voices to pressing issues of the environment at the April 2012 conference, Echoes of the Earth in Times of Climate Change, sponsored by the Seventh Generation Fund and Hopa Mountain.  Artist, writer, and activist Edward Wemytewa (Zuni) eloquently captures the perspectives of Native leaders and culture bearers as they look to their cultural heritage and wisdom—sacred ceremony, ancient languages, prophesy, and hallmarks of mutuality, reciprocity, and responsibility—for ways to regain the delicate ecologic
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Sam Bower
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
From an environmental perspective, we are living in transitional times; the practices we engage in now have far-reaching implications for the survival of the earth and all its life forms. “Environmental Art” is an umbrella term for a wide range of work that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. Art provides a lens through which to explore aspects of society--from urban food production, climate policy, watershed management, and transportation infrastructure to childhood education and clothing design--from an ecological perspective.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Betsy Peterson
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Folk arts include a constellation of artistic activities and cultural expressions in community life that are informal, often popular in orientation, amateur, voluntary, and occurring in myriad social contexts. As expressions of deep cultural knowledge, creative expression, activism, cultural durability, and community values, folk and traditional arts can be tools for community empowerment and social change.
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Authors: Pam Korza and Barbara Schaffer Bacon
Publication Date: November 5, 2012
The past is indeed always with us, and historic sites, history exhibitions and programs, anniversaries and commemorations, and heritage tourism efforts offer great potential for examination of both the history of a community and its contemporary civic and social concerns. History helps people understand the sources and complexities of present-day issues. History organizations and their tangible artifacts and spaces bring great assets to the process of making meaning of contemporary life.
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Authors: The Opportunity Agenda
Publication Date: July 31, 2010
In fall 2009, The Opportunity Agenda launched an Immigration Arts and Culture Initiative with the goal of fostering arts, culture, and media activities that promote the inclusion, integration, and human rights of immigrants in the United States. As part of the initiative, this research study was conducted to identify examples of arts, culture, and media projects that effectively move hearts and minds, break down prejudice, inspire community engagement, and, in the long term, encourage public support for the fair treatment and inclusion of immigrants in American society.
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Sunrise welcome by kumu hula vicky Takemine and halau
Authors: Jan Cohen-Cruz
Publication Date: August 30, 2013
As both a scholar of community-based theater and past ensemble company member, Jan Cohen-Cruz lends perspective on an array of experiences of place-based theater, culture, and art at MicroFest: Honolulu. Being in Hawai`i, where the Native language has been pre-empted by English, heightened participants’ awareness about issues of language related to creative community-based work.
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Kenya Burning book cover
Authors: Ann McQueen
Publication Date: September 20, 2013
Read about how the Lambent Foundation leverages the critical role of arts and culture at the intersection of social justice. Through its grantmaking and creative programs, Lambent explores the impact of contemporary art as a strategy for promoting sustainable cultural practices in New York City, New Orleans, and Nairobi. Learn more about the Foundation’s current work and Executive Director Michelle Coffey’s vision for the future in this paper and podcast interview by Ann McQueen.
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Authors: Eddie B. Allen, Jr.
As a Detroiter and a journalist who has covered the city’s urban as well as cultural affairs, Eddie B. Allen, Jr. brings a gentle local eye to surface questions that deserve a hard look as MicroFest traverses its next locations. Allen zeroes in on participants’ examination of the role of arts inside the justice system and in building awareness and fostering dialogue about issues of the justice system, a system he has followed personally and as a concerned citizen and journalist.
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Animating Democracy resource
Authors: Sarah Ingersoll
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Popular media—film, television, celebrity, online games, and online videos—is a powerful way for the creative community to depict critical social issues and engage people in contributing to social change.  This paper focuses primarily on popular media examples that combine social message, narrative, and outreach tactics into intentional strategies to influence behavior and support broader-systems reform.
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Authors: Carol Bebelle
Publication Date: May 30, 2013
In the context of chronic issues such as poverty and prisons and in the aftermath of the “Katrina-related federal flood,” Carol Bebelle attributes New Orleans’ distinctive creative impulse as essential to the city’s recovery and resurrection. Bebelle traces a continuity of theater practice in New Orleans that is conscious and intentional in its storytelling and gives agency to promote personal redemption and social justice—from Junebug Productions’ work on issues of race and class, to the work of ArtSpot Productions in Louisiana prisons.
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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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