In August 2020, the Center for Artistic Activism put out an open call for creative, strategic, risk-taking projects to support voters and voting in the coming US elections. Within one week we received over 100 ambitious and impactful ideas to celebrate and safeguard voting in 2020 and beyond. The selected projects launched dancing mailboxes in the Northeast, line-warming circus acts in the Midwest, voting by horseback in the West and South, enormous and mobile digital projections that promoted voting resources throughout the country, and more – embarking on a multifaceted program that has engaged millions nationwide.
We’ve supported 25 projects with training, mentorship, funding, and more. Projects such as:
A one-of-a-kind queer celebration of voting. ¿En Serio Loca? ¡VOTA! brings drag performers, lip sync battles, social media, and swag to rev up and turn out the QTPOC vote in Florida in 2021 and beyond.
Putting the fun back in fundamental rights, in 2020 Emergency Circus brought clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists to entertain people waiting in long lines to vote in Arizona, Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Oregon, and more.
The longest filibuster ever recorded lasted 24 hours and 18 minutes. In 2021, Song Power for the People flipped that bit of history on its head, singing a new, pro-voter anthem continuously for 24 hours and 19 minutes, across D.C. and broadcast nationwide. The song continues to live on and galvanize pro-democracy protests.
A mobilization of cowboys, cowgirls, and cowpokes across the country to ride to polls. Using the gritty, powerful, take-no-sh*t spirit of cowboy culture, the Compton Cowboys got potential voters the information they needed and galvanized them to head to the ballot box to vote in 2020. They remounted as Buck Expectations. Vote. to turn out voters in the 2021 Georgia runoff election.
A highly theatrical voter engagement campaign created and performed by Philly teens. Featuring performance, puppets, music, dancing, and more, the members of the PA Youth Vote Theatre Ensemble got their peers registered and ready to vote in crucial 2021 elections.
Through these projects and more, we’ve engaged over 40 organizations leading the way in using creativity to protect the freedom to vote. Organizations such as:
Wake Up & Vote
Princeton Gerrymandering Project
PA Youth Vote
Wisconsin Democracy Project
Our work with these organizations and individuals has spread across 26 states (we’re including DC in that count!)
Our work has also produced projects that have been live-streamed nationwide.
Across all of these efforts, we’ve trained over 100 people through general, pro-voting workshops, like our Unstoppable Voters Workshop held in summer 2021. We’ve also held issue-specific convenings, like this fall’s Holistic Districts Hub, which focused on bringing creativity to the fight for fair districting.
We’re not slowing down! We must ensure that every American can cast a ballot – so we can elect leaders who govern in our interests and make the promise of our democracy real for us all. Up next we’re collaborating with For Freedoms to champion DC Statehood, working with Wake Up & Vote to develop media-rich, pro-voter stories, and supporting creative, ambitious projects around fair districting, getting out the vote, and building a culture of civic engagement based in excitement and joy.
We’ll be hosting a series of international roundtables featuring pro-democracy warriors from around the world sharing their stories of overcoming cynicism, cultivating joy, and building sustainable movements. Hear about their inspiring creative activism and learn how to apply it to your own work. Stay tuned!
Artistic activism makes the difference. But it will take every ounce of energy, and every cent we can muster, to make sure Americans can vote freely and safely in elections this year and next. Your support fuels the projects and people who are making sure their communities can get informed, get to the ballot box, and get their votes counted!
Want to work with us on a pro-democracy issue? Are you part of an organization that wants to infuse your work with new creativity and passion? Are you an individual in a state we haven’t worked in yet and have an idea to revitalize voting where you are? Let us know.
If you’re in the U.S., there are lots of important, local elections coming up this Tuesday, November 2. Head to vote.org to find out about elections in your area and get yourself ready to exercise your freedom and cast your ballot.