The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is a people-powered department—a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.

To create a just and welcoming world, we need social imagination to envision and enact change. Yet as a society, we’ve failed to prioritize the programs and policies that cultivate creativity, empathy, and collaboration. Social institutions seldom allow us to show up as whole, creative humans. Too often, we’re asked to accept stories that depict us only as consumers and workers rather than creators and communicators. Together, we can rewrite these stories.

We affirm the right to culture and pursue cultural democracy that:

  • welcomes each individual as a whole person

  • values each community’s heritage, contributions, and aspirations

  • promotes caring, reciprocity, and open communication across all lines of difference

  • dismantles all barriers to love and justice

To advance this vision, the nation’s only people-powered department*:

  • engages everyone in weaving social fabric and strengthening communities through arts and culture

  • builds capacity and connective tissue among socially-engaged artists and cultural organizers

  • generates momentum and public will for creative policies and programs rooted in USDAC values

  • infuses social justice organizing with creativity and social imagination

Art and culture can build  empathy, create a sense of belonging, and activate the social imagination and civic agency needed to make real change. When we feel seen, when we know that our stories and imaginations matter, we are more likely to bring our full creative selves to the work of social change. That makes our work more effective—and more fun.

The USDAC's National Actions invite everyone to perform a future shaped by  the transformative power of arts and culture. Our local organizing helps communities dream aloud and turn imagination into action. We connect people in an ever-expanding creative learning community by sharing vital information, generating inspiring actions, and devising cultural policies and programs to catalyze profound culture shift in the service of social and environmental justice. Together, we’re creating new narratives of power and possibility and scaling up strategies for equity and belonging.

The USDAC is not an outside agency coming in; it’s our inside agency coming out! Radically inclusive and vibrantly playful, the USDAC offers pathways of engagement for any individual or organization eager to deepen a commitment to creativity and social change. Culture shift is an all-hands-on-deck effort: whether you’re already performing this work or new to creative organizing, join the people-powered department today!


*The USDAC is not a government agency.

Short video from CULTURE/SHIFT 2016, the USDAC's first national convening, held in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.
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