By Arlene Goldbard, Chief Policy Wonk
We’re excited. Really excited. In a little over three months, Citizen Artists from across the U.S. will be converging on St. Louis for the USDAC’s first-ever national convening, CULTURE/SHIFT 2016. Registration is now open and space is limited, so sign up today at the early bird price.
The USDAC is working in partnership with the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission—the RAC’s Community Arts Training Institute is justly admired for the quality and longevity of its work—to produce this November 17-19 event. Our aim has been to design a gathering that offers deep learning, real connection, tons of fun, and enough inspiration to bring home to last you all year. Here are just a few highlights:
- An opening ritual that honors the land, the ancestors, the assembled, and our overall intention of achieving the nth degree of serious play in pursuit of cultural democracy.
- A first-person guide to the region and culture, from Ferguson to both sides of the Delmar Loop, created by local artists and activists.
- Hands-on artmaking experiences that invite you to add your own voice and vision to collective creation.
- The launch of the USDAC’s full Cultural Policy Platform, inaugurating the national culture-shifting conversation that needs to underpin real change.
- A remarkable mix of workshops, design labs, presentations, and interactive learning offered by USDAC National Cabinet members such as T. Lulani Arquette, Catalyst for Native Creative Potential, Lily Yeh, Urban Alchemist, Roberto Bedoya, Secretary of Belonging, and Makani Themba, Minister of Revolutionary Imagination; plus folks like Antoinette Carroll of St. Louis’ Creative Reaction Lab and Cultural Agent Sarah Boddy!
We’re using a structure that tags sessions four ways: People, Policy, Play, and Art&. Every participant is free to choose whether to stick with one theme or skip around.
Personally, I’m really excited about the policy series (we’re calling it the Wonk Institute) dedicated to creating policies and programs that make cultural democracy real. It starts with foundational wonk lore—definitions, formative ideas, brief history, and elements that make up cultural policy here and around the world—then drills down into experiences such as:
- designing a 21st Century Culture Corps with Chief Instigator Adam Horowitz;
- looking at cultural equity from all angles with Carlton Turner, Minister of Creative Southern Strategies; and
- exploring practical ways to put culture on city agendas with Caron Atlas, Minister of Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts.
Meeting less than two weeks after the Presidential election, the timing couldn’t be more opportune. No matter what happens at the ballot-box, we’ll be together, turning our energy to all the ways we can join forces to generate and amplify creative strategies for change. If you’ve taken part in USDAC activities so far, you know that meeting online is a mainstay: user-friendly and cost-efficient, to be sure. But here are some of the things you can’t do online:
- Finally meet those great people you’ve connected with in Citizen Artist Salons or as Cultural Agents in the flesh! Hug like you’re long-lost buddies, hang out together knowing you don’t have to log off in a few minutes, dream and scheme at leisure.
- Sign up to present an 18-minute FRED Talk (stay tuned for details).
- Take the time to ponder the big questions: How can we galvanize support for culture that cultivates empathy, equity, and social imagination? What are the leverage points for shifting from a consumer culture rooted in isolation and inequality to a creator culture rooted in community and equity? How does shift happen and what can we do to help it along?
- Sing your heart out with Citizen Artists from across the U.S.
Register today! We’ll be keeping you updated regularly. We’re all looking forward to seeing you in St. Louis!