West Africa Art Action Academy
December 17 – 21, 2017

OSIWA (Open Society Initiative for West Africa), C4AA (The Center for Artistic Activism) and Association Culturelle La Muse invite artists to apply to participate in a 5-day Art Action Academy from December 17-21, 2017 in Conakry, Guinea. The workshop is open to artists from West Africa currently working on or interested in learning how they can reverse the dominance of corruption with art forms using their own expertise and artistic expression.

Many artists want to create work that has a social impact. Unfortunately, organizing a successful social-change campaign isn’t often part of skills traditionally acquired by artists. The Art Action Academy (AAA) is a training program aimed at helping socially-engaged artists make their work more impactful and provides them with the necessary tools to better evaluate the effect of their work.

The goal of the AAA is not merely to impart knowledge, but to access, organize and operationalize the creative, cultural and political resources possessed by the artists themselves. In brief, the goal of the AAA is to have participants own the method so that they can continue to develop and grow as successful artists and effective activists.

Using a range of contemporary and historical examples of organizing and activism from around the world, participants will study the various ways cultural creativity has been employed for raising awareness, building organizations, influencing legislatures, and drafting policy. The selected artists will explore ideas from cultural theory to cognitive science to social marketing. Additionally, participants will learn to apply these ideas through a range of practical exercises designed to unlock their imagination from the prison-house of the possible – and then to figure out how to make the impossible possible, through new strategies and tactics. More about the AAA workshop curriculum is included at the end of this message.

We’ll explore how to reverse the dominance of corruption with art forms using the expertise and artistic expression of the participants.

About the Organizers & Facilitators

The AAA workshop will be led by C4AA co-founders Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert in collaboration with OSIWA Staff.

Stephen Duncombe is a Professor of Media and Culture at New York University. He is the author and editor of six books, including Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy and the Cultural Resistance Reader, and is a life-long activist.

Steve Lambert is a conceptual artist and Associate Professor of New Media at SUNY Purchase. His art has been shown everywhere from marches to museums internationally, has appeared in over fourteen books, and four documentary films.

The Center for Artistic Activism trains artists and activists around the world to use their own creativity and cultural knowledge to make positive change.

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa promotes and supports open societies, inclusive democratic governance based on transparent and accountable institutions, active citizenry and economic advancement. More at http://www.osiwa.org/.

Association Culturelle La Muse is a Guinean civil society organization working towards the promotion of Arts and Culture for Social Justice.

More about the Art Action Academy Workshop

The Art Action Academy (AAA) is designed to help artists who want to be socially engaged to be more effective in bringing about change. The AAA presents new ways of doing art and activism, drawing upon artists perspectives, expertise and understandings. The workshop also helps artists build a community of practice, an extended network of artists in a region and around the world who provide support after the workshop.

The AAA curriculum includes exercises to help you see how activism is typically done, and how to do it better by using art and culture to reach people at a level of personal experience, story, emotion and fundamental values. The workshop takes a deep dive into the history of effective artistic activism around the world, drawing out lessons that can be applied locally but also revealing how tactics must be culturally specific in order to resonate. Workshop participants bring their own examples of artistic activist tactics that have worked in their regions and cultures. Together we examine why these are effective and how to draw from them for new and innovative campaign ideas with objectives and goals aimed at fundamental change. The workshop facilitators talk about how to use cognitive and behavioral science to change people’s minds and behaviors, and exercises help participants examine how you might use this science, as well as morality and storytelling, to change culturally-specific narratives. Working like anthropologists, together the group will examine those culturally-specific narratives, use outcome-based design thinking techniques to invent new ones, and collaborate to create an action that puts the workshop’s lessons to the test.

The Arts Action Academy has been held in over 10 countries with over 800 participants. Here are what some of our participants have said about the training:

“This is a tremendous gift to art activists – it meets many needs and fills in gaps we may not realize we have.”

“Thank you both for this workshop. A clear agenda that has been fine-tuned over time. Really excellent content, structure and method.”

“I thank you for your great efforts, passionate training, am leaving this …training room a more empowered, creative African Woman.”

“I’ve been looking for something to reinvigorate/refresh/renew my commitment to activism. You provided it. Thank you.”

“A great opportunity to open my mind and explore ideas. The teaching instills confidence and a sense of empowerment and creativity which everyone should have.”