Culturally Sustaining Civics: Questioning the Civic Achievement Gap

  Every generation, it seems, worries that the next one is not as politically active as it should be. But, in recent decades, a new concern has emerged: “gaps” in civic knowledge and participation in the US along lines of race and class. According to a number of researchers, youth from low-income Communities of Color score lower

Art in a Time of Emergency

Photo: Mirror Shileds at Standing Rock, Designed by Cannupa Hanska Luger These days, it seems like we are in a constant state of emergency. Last week’s terror attack against anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville is only one in a string of

Futurism, Futurity, and the Importance of the Existential Imagination

In arts and social change work, we talk about the importance of being able to imagine a future that is better — more just — than the world we live in today. But often the struggle is a more existential

Art is a Basic Human Need: An Interview with Felicia Young

Featured image of the Hudson River Pageant, Photo by William Bourassa Jr. On the day that 45 was inaugurated into office, I had a very hopeful conversation. I spoke on the phone with long-time cultural organizer Felicia Young, founder of the

Creating Art That’s Needed: An Interview with Mat Schwarzman

When I was starting out as a community-based arts educator in Chicago, the Beginners Guide to Community-Based Arts — with its welcoming, bright-yellow cover — was one of the most thumbed-through books on my shelf. Recently I had the chance to speak with one of its co-authors, Mat Schwarzman. We discussed his background in political

Sign Now: USDAC Pledge on Cultural Rights and the Muslim Ban

The US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is calling on artists, designers, cultural organizers, and other cultural workers to sign the following pledge: to stand with humanity against inhumanity at this vital political juncture. Commit your creative energy to

Take a Stand for Cultural Democracy

USDAC launches Cultural Policy & Action Platform At November’s Culture/SHIFT conference in St. Louis, some of my fellow cabinet members at the US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) took the stage. They were there to mark the launch a national “policy

How do you visualize a world you haven’t yet seen?

Earlier this year, I did some graphics work for the Family Leadership Design Collaborative (FLDC), a group whose mission is to radically re-imagine family engagement in schools and other institutions. It turned out to be one of the toughest design challenges I’ve faced. In this post, I want to share a bit of that design process with you. The back-and-forth that

Daring to Imagine: An Interview with Arlene Goldbard

If you’re active in the world of community-based arts, you probably know Arlene Goldbard. She has been at the forefront of cultural policy in the US for decades, and is the author of New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural

The Art of Restorative Questions

We live in a punitive culture. We are so used to punishment as the go-to solution for any behavior we want to change, that it can be difficult to imagine other options. A group of artists, organized by Project NIA,