How Artists and Advocacy Groups Can Work Together to Supercharge Civic Engagement in 2024

We all know how important this year is for engaging voters. But with so many potential voters feeling apathetic and burned out on politics, how can we overcome all the harsh vibes?

With arts and culture! Time and time again we’ve seen how crucial the arts are for transforming narratives around voting and turning democratic participation into the fun, joyous, supported, and supportive act it should be.

On March 18 from 12-1 pm ET, we presented Arts and Civic Power: a special online event co-hosted with the David Rockefeller Fund, the Opportunity Fund, and GoVoteNYC. The event featured artists, activists, and voting champions who have combined the powers of art and activism to make a real impact on civic participation in their communities all across the United States.

Event recording

Watch the full recording.
Access Margaret’s slides here.

Key Takeaways

Speakers shared inspiring stories of how artists and other culture makers have effectively collaborated for real impact in the voting sphere and provided key takeaways and tips that everyone can use to make their 2024 voting work more innovative and impactful:

Bring Artists In

  • Hold events that welcome democracy builders, creatives, and other interested parties.
  • Engage in meaningful dialogue, build deep relationships, and remove extractive ones.
  • Offer multiple levels of engagement, from popup events to extended workshops.
  • Make sure you have very clear goals and objectives and that you’re up front about artist expectation and compensation.
  • Empower those who are already interested with additional skills and tools.

Embed creativity into your organization

  • Include or, better yet, prioritize creativity in your strategic plans.
  • Hire a “cultural strategist” or similar role at your advocacy organization.

Research and evaluate

  • Have deep conversations with people on the ground. Take narratives and turn them into creative briefs — and then let artists do their thing. Artists’ curiosity is a super power.
  • Look for ways to measure cultural strategy, to help artists and movement partners better understand how to use their powers effectively.
  • Test content to learn if and how you’re reaching your target audiences.
  • Experiment with multiple distribution channels — meet people where they are.
  • Examine how narrative strategy is working. How is what we’re creating moving through the world?

Use narrative, humor, and hope

  • Narratives mean visibility, and they’re critical for building power.
  • Humor helps connect with communities that might not initially be excited about civic participation.
  • Envision the world you want to see. Positivity elicits joy that can motivate people to action.


Our Unleashing Unstoppable Voters creative campaign toolkit has exercises, tools, case studies, and more to help you move forward throughout your campaign process. Hundreds of organizations are already using it — download your free copy today!

In the coming months we’ll be holding more events, putting out more resources, and launching more programs to help you make a real difference this year. Stay up to date on everything by signing up!

A brand new guide from Forward Together and their collaborators on collaboration practices for organizations and visual artists.

Race Forward and Americans for the Arts have announced a new initiative, the Cultural Week of Action on Race and Democracy, and they are accepting applications for funding, to support organizations looking to deepen commitments to racial justice and inclusive democracy through cultural activities.

Looking for some advice on your next creative civic engagement action? Schedule a free happy hour session with the Unstoppable Voters team!

CoolCoolCool and Fair Count painting away Gerrymanding
CoolCoolCool and Fair Count using class elections to fight gerrymandering

Swayable is a tool that the Center for Cultural Power uses. It can be used to measure audience response, including emotions.

Erika L. Anthony

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Cleveland VOTES

Erika L. Anthony, a native New Yorker, is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Cleveland VOTES. Cleveland VOTES is a nonpartisan, democracy-building movement that works to reconstruct and strengthen power through active participation of our collective partners. Erika has held executive and senior positions with the Ohio Transformation Fund, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and Oriana House, Inc. She also serves on a number of boards and commissions in Cleveland. Erika holds a B.S. in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxine G. Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Rebecca DeHart

CEO of Fair Count

Rebecca DeHart is the CEO at Fair Count, a nonprofit organization in Georgia working to build long-term power in communities that have been undercounted in the decennial census, underrepresented at the polls, and torn apart in redistricting. Leading a team of 70 employees at its height, Rebecca has stewarded Fair Count’s on-the-ground organizing, advocacy, and media campaigns to achieve a record self-participation rate in the 2020 Census and unprecedented turnout in the Georgia 2020 General and the 2021 Runoff Elections. A social worker by training, and a recovering partisan campaign wonk, Rebecca is committed to developing innovative strategies and operationalizing big ideas to achieve long, overdue equity in civic engagement.

Photo: Wes Cunningham

Margaret Faliano

Campaign Manager of Illuminative, Chippewa Cree

Margaret Faliano (she/her) is a citizen of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and is currently a Campaign Manager at IllumiNative: a Native women-led nonprofit that builds power for Indian Country by uplifting Native stories, voices, and issues on a national scale. For years, Margaret has led numerous narrative change and narrative strategy initiatives to advance the equity and self-determination of Native peoples. As an urban Native, Margaret has always yearned to see accurate and contemporary Indigenous representation in society, especially in politics, media, and fashion. She currently resides on the traditional homelands of the Mohican and Munsee Lenape peoples in the NYC Metropolitan Area and graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Business Administration and a B.S. in International Studies.

Aisha Goss

Chief Development and Operating Officer of the Center for Cultural Power

Aisha Goss (she/her) joined The Center for Cultural Power in January 2022 as Chief Development and Operating Officer. For more than 20 years, Aisha has served as a fundraising and operations professional to a variety of non-profit organizations. Her expertise has aided multiple organizations in building sustainable infrastructure and has reached more than $25 million in annual funding goals. She has dedicated her career to power building the organizations and communities that create lasting change. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Aisha is a Howard University alum, an avid reader, crafter, and bourbon whiskey collector and enthusiast.

Photo: Lola Scott

Mark Kendall

Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of CoolCoolCool Productions

Mark Kendall is an award-winning comedian, filmmaker, and educator. Along with his production partner, Bill Worley, he is the co-founder of CoolCoolCool Productions, where they use comedy to encourage civic engagement. Last year, he was an Unstoppable Voters Fellow with the Center for Artistic Activism. While studying film at Northwestern University, he completed the Comedy Central Chris Rock Summer School Program, where he pitched jokes at “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Mark was named best Professional Funnyman by Creative Loafing Atlanta in 2015 and was the Readers Pick for Best Comedian in Creative Loafing Atlanta in 2019.

Alexis R. Posey

Chief Campaigns Officer, Center for Cultural Power and the Cultural Engagement Lab

Alexis R. Posey is the Chief Campaigns Officer at the Center for Cultural Power and the Cultural Engagement Lab. Posey is a social justice advocate with over fifteen years of experience in political strategy and advocacy. Alexis has worked on multiple issue areas, identifying the intersections between drug policy, HIV/AIDS, poverty, reproductive justice, and criminalization through a liberation lens.

Alexis is the former Chief Program Officer at the National Institute of Reproductive Health, where she led the state and local strategy for abortion rights and reproductive justice. Prior to that, she was the Director of Policy at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Health Equity, where she worked to eradicate racially charged health inequities such as maternal morbidity for Black women and harm reduction strategies for people who use drugs.

Bill Worley

Co-Founder of CoolCoolCool Productions

Bill Worley (he/him) is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker who’s been performing, directing and teaching comedy since 2008. He co-founded CoolCoolCool Productions in 2020, creating comedy videos advocating for progressive social issues and collaborating with folks like Fair Count, The New Georgia Project, and the EP of The Daily Show, Steve Bodow. His internet videos have garnered 100+ million views. In 2021, Bill and his business partner Mark Kendall’s CoolCoolCool sketches were named “Best reason to Laugh” by Atlanta Magazine. Bill also taught improv on VH1’s “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.” If only laughter grew hair on Bill’s bald head.