Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 2)

Posted by Pam Korza On October - 25 - 2011

Pam Korza

“Sing the song so you can stick here with gravity.” ~ L. Frank Manriquez

The marriage of two now staple Grantmakers in the Arts preconferences—Individual Artists and Art & Social Justice—was a perfect energizing union of kindred artist-activists, field movers, and supporters as well as a highlight of the Bay Area as a perpetual vanguard of arts and social change.

Starting with the grey bay morning right, we shared breakfast in the funky garden alleyway alongside SOMArts—comforting, hot, fruity oatmeal and other treats from Nick’s Wheely Good Breakfast truck!

Rhodessa Jones, our creative through line for the day, embodied arts for change. With opening creative verse and video, Jones conjured the power of her enduring Medea Project which engages incarcerated women and women with HIV and AIDS.

Jones’ partner at the University of California, San Francisco HIV/AIDS clinic, Dr. Eddie Machtinger, underscored the unique role that her work plays in the evolution toward wellness of these women. Most striking was his deep and declared commitment to the project and to proving “with scientific evidence” the role of arts in their transformation. A model of sustained and effective cross-sector partnership!

“Culture is essential to the theory of change.” ~ Jeff Chang

The brilliant change making trio of Jeff Chang, Favianna Rodriquez, and Erin Potts unpacked Culture Strike, their joint endeavor to organize scores of artists to help shed new light on issues of migrant and immigrant rights.

Riding a metaphor of waves, Chang explicated how cultural change always precedes political change. Rodriquez’s explicated Culture Strike’s strategic phases of: education and delegation; gestation; distribution; and evaluation/replication. And Potts closed with analysis of cultural strategies to change hearts and minds.

This trio is bringing theory to practice–a model of leading edge praxis!

Bright warm sunshine for lunch and, oh yes, aromatic rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies topped off with yummy berry panacotta served up by San Francisco’s popular Roli-Roti!

“Sometimes the Native is not ready to be part of the Rainbow Coalition.”

L. Frank Manriquez’s (Tonga/Acjachemen) refreshingly scattalogical offering of song, image, story, and abundant humor underscored the importance of cultural empowerment and focus within a group. A model of self-determination.

Back to sun and fun! Ice cream served up with a side of printed wisdom on cultural production and activism by the Tactical Ice Cream Unit!

Patrice O’Neill unpacked the strategies behind Not In Our Town which documents the stories of communities overcoming hatred and bigotry and taps their emotional power to change hearts and minds.

Years of experience have honed a multi-platform approach of grassroots engagement, educational outreach, and social media to ignite dialogue and action. A model for shifting a culture of intolerance and scaling up what one community can do to what any community can do to make change.

There was so much more to this day that resonated throughout GIA and after. Hats off to the coordinating team led by Ron Ragin (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) and Diane Sanchez (East Bay Community Foundation) with the help of many others. A model of a preconference!

*Editor’s Note: This post is second in a series covering Americans for the Arts staff involvement in this year’s Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in San Francisco.

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.