Dear C4AA Supporters,

It has been an incredible year at the Center for Artistic Activism, and your support has been integral. YOU are the reason why we’ve been able to support so many artists and activists to do ground-breaking work. 

Thirteen years ago, we helped to start an examination of what the powers of arts and activism can do when they’re combined. Since then, we’ve seen extraordinary advances in artistic activism, with more individuals and organizations understanding that arts and culture are critical to social change. Now, our work is less about introducing people to the concept of artistic activism and more about helping advance the practice of the craft of artistic activism so that it has the most possible impact. 

Five questions we sought to answer this year include: 

  1. How can artistic activism advance the freedom to vote in the U.S.?
  2. What works in artistic activism?
  3. How can artistic activism currently best help advocacy organizations?
  4. How can it help answer the current question artists and arts institutions are asking about how they can contribute to social change?
  5. How can we make all of this valuable information available and useful to the most number of people?

Here are the many ways that we have worked on answering these questions in the past year.

As part of ongoing efforts to analyze and share what works, in early 2023, we disseminated 6 key takeaways from 2022 for voting advocacy organizations.

Our work and partnerships over the past few years culminated in Making the Impossible Possible, a convening in Atlanta that brought together voting champions from 32 organizations with C4AA staff. 100% of the attendees reported that the summit equipped them with new tools to strengthen their work.

From October 2022 to October 2023, Unstoppable Voters worked with over 50 organizations and reached thousands of people to increase their creative voting work through:

  • Fellowships: Supporting six incredible voting champions and the voting organizations they work with. 
  • Making the Impossible Possible Summit in June in Atlanta with over 32 voting organizations.
  • Artistic Activism Trainings with people in Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin and many other key states.
  • College Curriculum: We’ve been working with universities and faculty to create civic engagement courses. 
  • Unleashing Unstoppable Voters Creative Campaigning Kits: We created a special toolkit for voting advocacy organizations. We’ll be distributing the toolkit to at least 200 organizations ahead of 2024!
  • Public Programs: programs for artists and voting advocates covering 28 states.

We investigate how arts, creativity and culture impact advocacy for social and environmental change. We do this through research, and convening communities of researchers and practitioners to share and disseminate what we learn. We also investigate through practice, working to help people conceive of and implement artistic activism campaigns.

We are conducting research on:

  • Artist-led social practice organizations
  • Voting Advocacy + Cultural Institutions in Cleveland
  • A Greenpeace case study on humor and climate change advocacy
  • Global artistic activism, with our Artistic Activism Research CoLab, a partnership with eight global researchers to study the impact of creative activism.

More specifically, how can artistic activism currently best help advocacy organizations now?

What we’ve found is that fellowships, research-backed training, mentoring and guiding resources help international advocacy organization and funding staff advance their work.

By the end of 2024 we will have:

  • Trained over 400 people through professional development workshops and mentoring on making creative campaigns from the ground up.
  • Trained staff at organizations like Greenpeace, Open Society Foundations, Cleveland Votes and the Cypress Fund.
  • Helped groups make advancements on issues including LGBTQI rights in Uzbekistan, opioid settlements in the U.S., climate, fossil fuels, money laundering and reproductive rights.

Case in Point: We have been mentoring and training Greenpeace leadership as they roll out new ways to help thousands of climate activists make their work more innovative and impactful

How can artistic activism best help artists and art institutions? What questions do artists and cultural organizations have about how their work can contribute to social change, and how can we help them answer those questions??

We answer this by working with artists and cultural institutions to help them gather data, analyze it and turn it into strategic plans for moving forward. We do this through:

  • Assessment Projects with cultural institutions
  • Collaborating with groups like #ArtistsWhoVote
  • Advising arts organizations as they implement new artist-led organizational models and strategic plans
  • Trainings and workshops for artists and cultural workers, through MassMoCA and other institutions 

Case in Point: We partner on The Divine Project, an artist fellowship that supports an ecosystem of Black and POC LGBTQi+ artists from New York City and social practice art forms that engage communities and reconsider traditional systems and practices of art and art making. This project is made possible by the Ford Foundation.

5. How can we make all of this available and useful to the most number of people?

The research, trainings and resources are only valuable if they reach people. Our work this year to ensure these materials are accessible include

  • Smithsonian Exhibit: The Utopia Project reached thousands of people.
  • Creative Campaigns Toolkit: Our practical manual on increasing impact through artistic activism will be distributed to over 200 organizations in the last few months of 2023 alone.
  • Public Trainings: we have been able to provide hundreds of people with artistic activism training. 
  • High School and College Curricula: We are working with educators to develop, test & fund curricula to reach hundreds of students next year.
  • Office Hours: We offer our artistic activism experts for one on one consultations to artists and activists around the world.
  • Communications Infrastructure: we’ve invested in people and systems to increase access, such as a 4x increase in Instagram followers.

We plan to make 2024 the year of extra impact. That includes:

  • Unstoppable Voters: We know we’ll need to bring our all to mobilize millions to the polls next year, to overcome the extreme threats to our fundamental freedoms and make sure we elect leaders who truly represent our values. So for the 2024 U.S. election cycle, we’re offering our widest range of Unstoppable Voters programming yet.
  • Training & Consulting: Ensure thousands more people and organizations have access to the highest quality artistic activism methodology.
  • Research: Study and share exactly how and why artistic activism works through at least 8 global Co-Lab and U.S. assessment projects.
  • Impact Project: Conduct a special project to analyze & communicate C4AA’s specific impact on arts and activism over years.
  • Education: Expand our college and youth educational reach through museums, libraries, and schools with hundreds of youth.

We can’t do what we do without YOU!

If you’d like to help support these exciting projects and further our mission, please consider making a donation to our YEAR-END FUNDRAISER.

As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of our community to keep us going. Making it an even better time to give, every donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $15,000!

Plus, if you donate $100 or more, you can receive or donate to an educator, this exclusive Art Needs Activism, Activism Needs Art print created, signed, and dated by our Co-Founder Steve Lambert.

With hope, joy, and gratitude, 

All of us here at C4AA