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Stepping Off the Curb

I am one of those people who dreams of lasting and positive change in society, and works to make it a reality, but I always feel like I’m not doing enough—that I’m falling short. Recently, I found myself in desperate need of inspiration. And I got it.. Last weekend I participated in a workshop called Unstoppable Voters that reinvigorated my sense of what’s possible—in this case encouraging people in the creative sector to get out and vote.

Hosted by OSU and led by the folks from the Center for Artistic Activism, Unstoppable Voters showed a small group of us how to use our creative juices to move people to action. At the start of the session, we were asked to cast our minds back to when we first stepped off the curb to being activists. While the age and situation was different for everyone, we all shared one thing in common—once we stepped off the curb to be activists, we knew there was no going back.

The sessions we participated in were based on the book “The Art of Activism” and one if its authors, Steve Lambert, was in Cbus to help us through the process. We all spent a day and a half learning new tips and tricks how to be arts activists and make the impossible possible.

Arts Activism is activism that taps into the powerful tools available to artists and people working in the arts—passion and creativity. Through the arts we not just bringing the need to action to people’s attention, but we do so in a way that ignites their own passions.

As the authors point out “Culture, as something familiar, can work as an access point through which organizers can approach and engage people who might be alienated from institutional political systems like voting, lobbying, campaigning and legislation.”

A perfect example of artistic activism popped up in my HyperAllergic newsletter this week—Artists Parody Toronto’s Failing Infrastructure with Museum Labels.

Here’s what I realized during our Unstoppable Voter sessions:

  1. The old adage if you want to go fast, go alone is not always true. There can be power, imagination AND speed in numbers.

  2. Artists and arts institutions need help, encouragement and resources to reach their peers about the power of voting.

  3. We need smart, creative brains like yours, and others you could think of, to come together to come up with that messaging and a plan.

GCAC is hosting a two-hour working session this Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. to noon to brainstorm creative ways that arts organizations and artists can encourage their boards, staff and patrons to vote. Come join us for creative thinking and strengthen your activist muscle! Email me at if you want to join us!

Photo: Jami and La Baker at Unstoppable Voters

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