As We Await Election Results, Artists And Culture Makers Unite Us
Unstoppable Voters Projects Relieve Tensions and Look to the Future as Every Vote is Counted Across the Country
With voting extensions granted in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and a higher than usual voter turnout, experts predict that election returns may be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?
Artists are uniquely suited to help us deal with unfamiliar experiences, generate new ideas and process new realities. The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Cheer the Count! cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.
Cheer the Count!
Ready? Ok! The Cheer the Count toolkit will provide local activists or enthusiasts with tools to cheer on election workers and bring a pep-rally spirit to the process of patience and waiting for votes to be counted. No formal training in cheerleading is necessary: Cheer groups can be formed by activist groups, or by friends, neighbors, families. The toolkit will include instructions on how to get your group together, how to design a uniform with items you already have at home, how to make your own pom poms, simple chants and cheers. Marching bands also welcome.
Bring circus joy to where it’s needed most, taking 2 to 4 circus performer clowns across the country and enacting renegade shows on the roof of the sh’zambulance in strategic locations. These shows can be given for free to people working tirelessly to count our votes, or to anyone who needs a jolt of joy. It’s a short socially distanced show for a small audience, often by surprise. Circus-a-grams are completely self-contained and use humor, skill, and inspiration to lift spirits.
The Peace Poets
Songs created by the Peace Poets and distributed as widely as possible. The Songs to Stop a Coup will be shared from city halls in as many towns and cities as possible and online through videos. The songs act as a creative response to an atmosphere of fear and tension by supporting the people and voicing our promise to protect each other and our vision of a just world.
My Hope, Our Hope
A call to artists, teachers, organizers, community members and leaders, students, young and old in all 50 states! ALL are welcome to participate. This project is an invitation to pause and reflect on what matters most to us, and what we hope for – for ourselves, our communities, and this country. We will be making and sharing hope flags. Hope is not frivolous. If we are to sustain our work in creating the world we want to see, we need a fierce clarity of vision to orient ourselves.
The dancing mailbox Delivering Democracy crews, in Pennsylvania centered in Damascus and Philadelphia shift their message from telling everyone HOW to vote in their locality to the concept that “Democracy is Worth Waiting For.” They give speeches, pass out flyers, put out press releases, and hold events, explaining that it is normal and fine for vote counting to continue for a while, especially in a pandemic. As patriotic, harmless, cute, and fun mailboxes, they provide the civil service of calm, confidence, and accurate information in character.
One Bus. Eight Cities. Two Weeks. We will have pop-up screenings and public art activations from New York to Miami. As we travel throughout a number of cities, we’ll be using our bus as a stage to invite people of all ages and backgrounds to share their stories, hopes, and dreams for the future, while also projecting community pieces onto large cityscapes. We aim to raise awareness around the global issues at hand while using art as a tool to help seed higher consciousness and broadcast unspoken dreams of communities across the US — especially the underrepresented voices. We will also be offsetting the bus’s carbon footprint by contributing 10% of this campaign to Jaguar Siembra, a non-profit foundation dedicated to preserving Nature & Ancient Wisdom, planting 10.000 trees for Food Forests in the heart of the world, La Sierra Nevada in Colombia.
Southwest Organizing Project
Anticipating mass confusion, SWOP will create Social Emergency Response Centers (SERCs) in Albuquerque to provide election information, healing, self-care, and protection to local communities. A mural will also be created post-election, reflecting the community’s hopes for the future.
Project Your Vote
Project Your Vote uses original, moving video footage and high powered projectors to project video on buildings in major cities still counting the votes in the 2020 election, especially in cities and counties with a history of voter suppression in battleground states.. The visuals are an effort to tie the recent protests to the history of voting via the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The organizers are aiming for projections in every state and have created a toolkit and are calling for anyone with a projector to take part.
Stir the Pot
Stir the Pot is a combination potluck series-civics lesson-activist training that uses the joy of food and cooking as a launchpad to making broader change. Connecting to one another, making collective meaning, and equipping each other with an understanding of their own power through food is the antidote to a chaotic political moment and to nourishing the futures we’d like to live in.
Packing and Cracking
Packing and Cracking is an interactive mapmaking event about gerrymandering: the pervasive practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than the other way around. Through participatory drawing and map-drawing games, Packing and Cracking uses critical cartography, gerrymandering history, and interviews with politicians and reformers today to show how easy and disenfranchising gerrymandering can be and ask what, if anything, we should do about it. By Rachel Gita Karp and Joseph Amodei.
All of this amazing work is made possible through generous funding from Open Society Foundations, Andrea Soros Colombel, and Eureka! House. Many thanks to these visionaries who value creativity and democracy!
While this election could be described as polarizing, all our projects are non-partisan and do not endorse any candidate, proposition, or measure. The Center for Artistic Activism is a 501.3c non-profit education organization.