citizen artist salons

USDAC Citizen Artist Salons are video-based gatherings and learning calls that deepen dialogue on specific themes and allow promising projects, ideas, and possibilities to circulate throughout the USDAC network. Each Citizen Artist Salon features guest presenters, open space for group conversation. and highlights opportunities for action and connection across the USDAC Network. We will keep a growing repository of recordings from Citizen Artist Salons on this page for anyone to access.




Learn how to adopt a Policy on Belonging and spread the #RightToBelong far and wide.


  • Roberto Bedoya, Secretary of Belonging on USDAC National Cabinet and Oakland Cultural Affairs Manager
  • Andrew Grant-Thomas, cofounder of EmbraceRace and editor of the Othering & Belonging journal
  • Arlene Goldbard, USDAC Chief Policy Wonk and author of The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future

April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, groundbreaking speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”  Take part in this online learning call featuring three dynamic presenters talking about using our creative gifts to inspire and engage on April 4th and every day:



  • Aljosie Aldrich Harding’s passion is spiritual eldering. As King and Breaking Silence Campaign Coordinator for the National Council of Elders, she continues the work of "building up a new world" that she shared with her co-worker and beloved late husband, Vincent Harding.
  • Charon Hribar has been working with the Poverty Initiative of The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice since its founding in 2004. She currently serves as the Director of Cultural Strategies and Poor People's Campaign Revivals Coordinator.
  • Daniel Hanchett, Technical Director/Production Manager of Progress Theatre, is a native of Houston, TX. He currently works as the Performing Arts Coordinator for South Dallas Cultural Center where he also teaches “Acting for Teens” and “Creative Dramatics for Youth” as part of the Summer Arts Program.

Moderated by Arlene Goldbard, USDAC Chief Policy Wonk.


Ever heard of #SalsaShutDowns to boycott companies with exploitative labor practices? How about NewYorkTlan, an indigenous language and cultural festival that reunites families from both sides of the border? Wondering how you can bring your creativity to the fight for immigrant rights?

Watch this online learning call featuring three experienced organizers bringing culture and creativity to the heart of immigrant rights organizing


  • Nataly Castaño, artist and cultural organizer with Cosecha, a nonviolent movement working to win permanent protection, dignity and respect for the 11 million undocumented people in this country.

  • Marco Antonio Castillo, organizer and director of the Asamblea Popular de Familias Migrantes, building people-power and reuniting families across borders through innovative cultural programming.

  • Sonia Guiñansaca, migrant artist and cultural organizer, and the Operations Manager at CultureStrike, a national network of socially engaged cultural workers and artists of color  doing work at the intersection of arts and social justice.

Activate Your Community with the People's State of the Union

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 Story circles, a time honored tradition and technique of community building and collaboration, are like these familiar kitchen tables where the delicious parts of life converge and mingle, but instead of the table, we gather around each other to share the sustenance of our stories. In this session, you’ll hear from several USDAC organizers across the country who've hosted story circle events for different groups and audiences. 


  • Emmett Phillips aka EPizFREE (USDAC Cultural Agent, performance artist and Program Coordinator at Children and Family Urban Movement in Des Moines, IA)
  • Charlene Martinez Qoalexenze (USDAC Cultural Agent and Associate Director of Integrated Learning for Social Change within Diversity & Cultural Engagement at Oregon State University).

Moderated by: Adam Horowitz, USDAC Chief Instigator  (aka Deputy Secretary Norman Beckett)


How can artists, activists, and allies disrupt narratives of hate during this election cycle? How can we foster dialogue and connection, activate civic agency, and encourage full democratic participation? Join this Citizen Artist Salon to learn all about the USDAC Super PAC and how you can step up to create a Super Public Act of Compassion or Super Participatory Act of Culture. We’ll be joined by special guests whose projects are featured in the USDAC Super PAC Toolkit, offering inspiration and nuts-and-bolts guidance for creating participatory public projects


  • Karina Puente is multi-disciplinary artist based in Philadelphia, PA. Her Super PAC project, HISTORY IN THE MAKING: PAPEL PICADO NOW, uses a traditional Mexican artform, cut paper, to create powerful messages that can be made by children or adults and displayed anywhere.
  • Sara Taliaferro is an illustrator and organizer based in Lawrence, KS. Her Super PAC project, THE BUFFALO COMMONS (UN)VOTING FAIR, is a playful participatory event including multiple activities representing different aspects of the democratic process, imagined and experienced in new, inclusive ways: artmaking, speaking, yard signs, caucusing, and more.
  • John Sankofa is a health and social justice writer and communications innovator based in Baltimore, MD. His Super PAC project, DEMOCRACY UNCUT: A HEARABLE DIALOGUE ON RACE AND POLICING, uses on-the-street video interviews to invite people who disagree to express themselves and hear each other, promoting solutions-driven public conversation.

Moderated by Arlene Goldbard, USDAC Chief Policy Wonk

Artists Rising to Meet The Moment

let us not be scared of the work because
it’s hard
let us move the mountain
because the mountain must move
— From “ a poem: principles" by Danez Smith

Across this country, artists are rising to meet the moment, applying their gifts to call out and counter the evils of racism and violence that flood the headlines and inundate too many lives. The Laundromat Project is calling for "creative responses to this moment—drawings, poems, dance, films, songs, etc.—as well as your readings, curricula, self care tips, and more” to be shared via their website and social media. Mainstream media are covering visual arts workdance, and music generated by artists asserting that #BlackLivesMatter. Some artists are building a wall along the Mexican border. A coalition of artists, other community members, and organizations is building and decorating a wall around the Republican convention. In the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ exhibit on art and media activism, artist Indira Allegra has created an installation on police uniforms and the culture of violence. The Dark Noise Collective has opened a Google Doc for writers to "connect writers to local, grassroots organizations that are engaged in active campaigns to fight police violence and increase police accountability."

For every example we might list, there are a dozen other projects enlisting the power of art and culture in movements for love and justice.  


  • Hatuey Ramos-Fermín is an artist, educator, and curator based in The Bronx. He is the co-founder of Boogie Down Rides, a bicycling and art project celebrating cycling in the Bronx. He has organized projects and made presentations at a security guard training school (in tribute to Fashion Moda), community centers, churches, restaurants, laundromats, as well as galleries and museums. He has mentored young adults at the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts, where he also served as Curator of Education. 
  • Ricardo Levins Morales is a poster artist and organizer and lives in Minneapolis, MN. As a founding member of the Northland Poster Collective he participated in the trenches of the labor movement in various capacities and has offered his art as a tool to assist in organizing drives, educational efforts, awards, commemorations and for various other functional purposes.

Moderated by: Adam Horowitz, USDAC Chief Instigator  (aka Deputy Secretary Norman Beckett)

time for a Culture Corps! Artists' Jobs for the Public Good, Then & Now

Imagine large-scale employment for artists working in the public service. It's happened before and it could happen again! In past times of high unemployment and economic stress, the public sector has stepped in to create opportunity and prosperity, balancing the excesses and gaps of the private marketplace. In the 1930s, the biggest publicly funded project to put people back to work in the Great Depression was Federal One of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), comprising five projects to employ artists for the public good. In the 1970s, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) spent about $200 million employing artists as muralist, theater makers, creative organizers, and more. What can we learn from the past that will help us call a new Culture Corps into being now? What might a 21st century Culture Corps look like? What can we learn from people who are experimenting with both public and private arts job creation today? Three presenters with knowledge and experience to share will lead an interactive discussion that just might send out sparks.


  • Michael Schwartz, USDAC Cultural Agent, muralist, community activist, founder of the Tucson Arts Brigade, manager of the City of Tucson Mural Program
  • Mi’Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Columbia University Visiting Scholar, Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project fellow, media maker
  • Arlene Goldbard, USDAC Chief Policy Wonk, writer, speaker, consultant, cultural activist

Moderated by: Adam Horowitz, USDAC Chief Instigator

Creative Placemaking, Placekeeping, and Cultural Strategies to Resist Displacement

Creative Placemaking has been described as a process of community development that leverages outside public, private, and nonprofit funding to strategically shape and change the physical and social character of a neighborhood using arts and cultural activities. While there are ample examples of Placemaking activities resulting in positive change, some Placemaking activities can also support gentrification, racism, real estate speculation, all in the name of “neighborhood revitalization.” Across the country, “Creative Placekeeping” has come into usage as a counter to Placemaking. Placekeeping as the active care and maintenance of a place and its social fabric by the people who live and work there. It is not just preserving buildings but keeping the cultural memories associated with a locale alive, while supporting the ability of local people to maintain their way of life as they choose. What does that look like in practice?


  • Betty Yu, USDAC Cultural Agent, interdisciplinary, multi-media artist, educator and community activist
  • Dave Lowenstein, USDAC Cultural Agent, muralist and mosaic artist specializing in community-based collaborative public art projects.
  • Roberto Bedoya, USDAC National Cabinet, Minister of Belonging

Moderated by: Jess Solomon, USDAC Chief Weaver of Social Fabric