Art spaces hosting activism & strengthening community engagement

130 posts / 0 new
آخر موضوع
artists as administrators

Hi Anika,

You mention a theme that our communications department has made a short video on ... take a look at Negotiating the Balance b/w Roles of Artists & Facilitators.

 I realize that I am taking your remark a little out of context but just wanted to share this resource with the folks online.



Diversifying Networks


One thing I think about a lot is how to make the fD network more robust by linking to partners from outside the perceived confines of the *art world*, especially those from the human rights and social services sectors. Because fD is making a link where usually one previously didn't exist, it is not always easy to assert the utility of such a connection. We have to make a case for creating a linkages between those who may think they have little in common. 

When I have conversations with friends in human rights organizations that support HR defenders on the ground about how an art space could be a useful partner, and I'm usually met (at least initially) with skepticism.  In many ways, fD's work as an organization is to support these unlikely partnerships and show examples of these to a broader audience to make the case for these partnerships. 

Any ideas or strategies out there for diversifying the fD network or making our case to human rights / social justice workers? Maybe some of the activists or HR org people in the dialogue have some thoughts on this? 

Diversifying networs via NT

Susan Atwood, Instructor, University of Minnesota’s Leadership : Leadership for Global Citizenship.

In response to Karen's posting about diversifying networks and forming partnerships with HR defenders outside the artworld, I was prompted to revisit the New Tactics workbook: New Tactics in Human Rights: a resource for practitioners. In "The Need for New Tactics", Doug Johnson, CVT director asserts that: "advancing human rights requries the creation of a broader human rights field, one that incorporates many more people and sectors of society than are currently engaged.........All over the world dedicated human rights practitioners (maybe a more neutral word than "activists"?), have begun this work, building unexpected strategic alliances and learning from unexpected sectors".

The NT project and this current dialogue really illustrate the richness of diversifying networks. In reading about the faciltators' organizations in this dialogue I am struck by some resemblance to organizations working with the "The Power of Place: How historic sites can engage citizens in human rights issue" (see NT notebook).  Many of these sites are museums or places of former human rights abuses and strike a chord with me in the work that you are all doing with creative artists and sanctuary and even migration.

As you can probably tell, I am not in the art world, but I find your work fascinating and see many links with the diverse network with which NT interacts. I look forward to following the rest of the dialogue.



NT notebook - The Power of Place

Alicia Marván - artist . curator . activist -

Thank you for the resource, Susan, it sounds very interesting and related indeed. I was not able to find it though...could you direct me to the link please? thanks.

Link added

Susan Atwood, Instructor, University of Minnesota’s Leadership : Leadership for Global Citizenship.


Sorry, hyperlink now added to my post, plus Nancy Pearson provided it in her post, Hope it is helpful


NT workbook

Thank you for calling this to my attention.  If you hadn't pointed it out I wouldn't have noticed there was a New Tactics workbook.  Possibly others haven't noticed either.  It is downloadable in several languages on the righthand side of the site under &quot;Quick Links&quot;.
  I like the idea of using the term &quot;human rights practicioners&quot; instead of activists , even though it is a bit clunky.  it covers more ground and also reflects more of my personal interest!   But at the very least, the idea of developing a human rights field is an interesting one.  I wonder who has the most power to get it started?

Memory Map Installation - from District Six Museum

Thank you Susan for bringing to mind the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and their tactical notebook (see link below).

One their great coalition members is the District Six Museum in South Africa - located in an old church building, one of the last remaining structures when an entire viable community had been forcefully displaced under aparteid.  This example also connects back to Eslam's comment from Artkhana regarding the use of an interactive map in their “Take to the Sea” project.

interactive map - great visual tool for helping people to better understand their surrounding environment or "terrain" 

Here is an example of a creative use of interactive mapping from our New Tactics searchable tactics database:

Mapping personal histories to reclaim a place in history, recover lost land and promote social justice
is from District Six Museum in South Africa where former residents
built an exhibition by covering the floor of a Methodist church
with a detailed map of their destroyed neighborhood and invited their
neighbors to place their homes, streets, stores and community spaces on
it. This Memory Map project became the foundation for land reclamation
claims. Here is a link to the "Power of Place" tactical notebook and you can see a piece of their map.

I also want to share that New Tactics has a great mapping tool we call - Tactical Mapping
- which is a method of visualizing the institutions
and relationships sustaining human rights abuses, and then tracking the
nature and potency of tactics available to affect these systems,
ultimately serving as a tool to monitor the implementation of strategy.
It's a great tool for identifying potential people and organizations
for building networks and collaborations.

What experiences of interactive installations or other creative art have been used by Art Spaces or activists that you know of for engaging communities in current issues and problems they are facing?

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Guapamacátaro tactics

Alicia Marván - artist . curator . activist -

fascinating! I have bookmarked all the links you gave to study them thoroughly. Some projects/tactics our artists in residence have used to engage/promote community, human rights and environmental stewardship:

"Como el Agua" (Elizabeth Ross, 2007) A video diary showing community members' answers to "what is water for you?". When freedom of speech and gender equality are an issue, the video camera was a great way to make people heard and show them all as equal members of a community with the same concerns.  

"Our Lady of Detritus" (Jill Sigman, 2007) A performance installation that viscerally pointed out the vicious cycle of consumer culture, engineered foods and malnutrition. 

"We Think This is Art" (Cristina Kral, 2009) An installation where kids place signs on things they like. A great exercise on forming opinions, being determined, and place/resources appreciation.

Video Tactics


These are GREAT! Thank you so much for sharing the pictures - as it is often said, a picture is worth a thousand words. 

Your example of the video diary reminded me of the work done by WITNESS. They work to empower human rights organizations around the world to incorporate
video as an advocacy tool in their work. Here is a brief example of what they have done from our New Tactics on-line tactics database:

Training grassroots human
rights groups in video and communications technology
is from WITNESS. Also for many more ideas and to connect with groups that are using video for advocacy - you can go the New Tactics on-line dialogue
archive on Video Advocacy from June
2008 to connect to the New Tactics community members directly.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

youth involvement

Has anyone found safe ways to involve children in art spaces?  Young people are essential to preserving culture, and involvement in the arts has a positive impact on their socialization and education.

 Katie Madden

Intern, Center for Victims of Torture

re: youth involvement

Alicia Marván - artist . curator . activist -

yes! one of my favorite activities at Guapamacátaro actually, and kids just can't get enough of being around the resident artists!

It probably helps that their school is right across the road, so they're always on the ball of what we're up to. First they just showed up at all times of the day, so I decided to structure their involvement a little more...we announce at the beginning of the residency that they are welcome to come every day after school for 2 hrs, which are dedicated to a mix of workshops imparted by the artists (each day a different topic). Subjects have included drawing, juggling, english, composting, gardening, nail painting!, dance, theater, recycling, etc.

It's been a great way for the visiting artists to get to know the community and surroundings (they are excellent tour guides!), as well as keep them going to school, and bring their parents in.

Fostering sustainable relationships with communities

Thank you, Alicia, for sharing your experiences with engagin the local school in what you do. It is a really good example of how an organization can connect with its surroundings in ways that are sustained over time as opposed to investing a lot of energy into one-time activities that some times do not contribute to creating long-standing relationships with the community. Furthermore, your experience illustrates that it creates a reciprocal engagement between the artists and the local school.

 And now a couple questions for all of you: What are the ways in which your organizations work with the surroundings on fostering long-term sustainable relationships? What do communities bring to your art space and what does you art space bring to the community?

Thank you! 

relationship with communities

Alicia, it is great that the kids were the ones who went after you! Do you do work with teens as well? It seems to be an age (14 up) when it is harder to get them committed... In Brazil, due to a huge governmental grant/sponsor system, there are lots of artistic/educational organizations - these projects have been doing a pretty good work in the social context, but somehow they are kept apart of the art sphere - we want to integrate more their experience with the local art community, by  partnering with some of these we have been encouraging the artists to involve these communities and/or projects in their artistic proposal for the residency. The organizations activities range from media literacy, visual arts, music, environmental, theater, crafts; and they not only work with kids or teens, there are single moms, the elderly, etc.

Another great way to integrate with the community is  with projects that are done in public space,  performance or installations for example. Those have been ice breakers, and after people have seen one of them, they feel much more comfortable in coming into the space for other events and activities. 


perceptions of spheres



perceptions and using different "languages"

Thanks for sharing this again Karen. There are many pictures of the murals featured on the fD website of the murals. I also found some of these great murals from Morro da Macumba on Flicker with some great commentary about the photos. I used google translate to turn the Portuguese into the English - making another circle back to comments about language and accessibility. You can use this link for a post about another on-line translator tool. But looking at these murals made me think about the murals themselves - a different "language" opening new possibilities of communication.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

perceptions of spheres


Thanks for sharing this obersvation, JA.CA. I have heard this sentiment--that "social" projects that involve communities in creative practice--are not  appreciated or valued in the more traditional art world. On the one hand we have social justice/human rights organizations being hesitant to partner with artists and arts orgs because their practices are unfamiliar and on the other hand some arts institutions being suspicious of projects that see arts as a "tool" for other social objectives. 

What are some strategies to breaking some of these assumptions and transforming these sectors? The Morro da Macumba project that Todd mentioned earlier in the week is one example where a community arts project paired with a photographer and the beautiful photographs of the process became an output more easily consumed by the "arts world." While the actual community art installation couldn't be seen in a gallery, one part of the process could. 

Mid-Atlantic Arts

The first thing that comes to mind as an answer to this question is the notion of Teaching Artists.  I am a teaching artist for Performing and Creative Arts in Brooklyn and NYC schools, and while most of what we do involves outreach into the schools, we also partner with arts spaces to conduct workshops, etc with them.  Brooklyn Arts Council ( has a Teaching Artists roster and also places artists and organizations together, as does the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation in Baltimore (  The Center places Teaching Artists in residency in different environments including arts spaces as well as community centers, safe houses, etc. 

youth actions

This morning I made a post about CEDECA in Sao Paulo.  Another Brazilian resource that we have been influenced by first-hand this past year is street art.  We are currently supporting a couple young artists, Jonatas and Everaldo from Grajau, Sao Paulo to have their first artistic residency at Santa Fe Arts Institute and participate in a group show in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.  The idea is that these guys will work with immigrant youth in Santa Fe who are already organized and using creative practices to address policy issues at the local government level.

Youth and Art - a safe space for healing

Dear Katie,

Although this example is not from one of the Art Spaces currently represented in this dialogue - it is an example about creating a "safe space" where young people were able to employ the arts for healing. The example Organizing summer camps to offer children a reprieve from violence from the Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture  in Palestine shares how significant the role of art can be for both creating a safe space and providing a venue for healing.

The first and last three days of the summer camp are usually dedicated to projects such as drawing, artwork, and sports. During the drawing project, children are asked to draw pictures representing their environments or hopes for the future. Most often, these initial drawings portray dark images or colors....Based on evaluation forms filled out by parents and counselors, many children have come out of the summer camp with fewer anxiety symptoms, less violent behaviors, more openness, and more integration into their communities. In addition, final drawings show a change in attitude and hope towards the future. 

Do any of the Art spaces have stories to share of healing transformations that have taken place for the participants of your programs?

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Youth + Art!

As an artist I have had the opportunity to lead several art
workshops (mainly theatre and creative writing) for marginalized youth in Toronto. I have worked with HIV Positive
Youth, Newcomers and refugees, LGBTQ youth and street involved youth. My
involvement with these projects had come from community organizations rather
than art spaces so I can only speak from the perspective of an artist leading
workshops for youth…what I know for sure is that I have never encounter any
youth in my life that doesn’t get excited with the idea of creating some art!!!


-Emma Beltran

Diversifying networks - Sites of Conscience dialogue example

This example of an interesting way to expand and diversity networks comes from a new comment recently posted to the The Power of Place: Sites of Conscience dialogue that I thought was quite relevant to this discussion. I thought that substituting "Art Spaces" for "museums and sites of conscience" makes the post particularly relevant but also in terms of the groups collaborating on this "Conscience Un-Conference".

dklevan wrote:

I think that it is an incredibly challenging issue for museums and sites of conscience... namely, what are best practices for promoting responsible civic action?

Toward that end, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has partnered with the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University to host the Conscience Un-Conference on Using Social Media for Good.  This is a free, one-day "un-conference" that will take place at the Holocaust Museum. We are seeking interesting and interested people to talk about the problems, practicalities, and opportunities of using social media to further the missions of "institutions of conscience" -- those concerned with violence and atrocities, human rights, and related issues.

Can a tweet confront hatred? Can tagging photos prevent prejudice? Can a Facebook fan page promote human dignitiy? Can a mobile phone strengthen democracy?

The "un-conference" will be held on Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 8:30am to 5:30pm at the Museum in Washington, DC. Applications are due by Tuesday, October 13, 2009. Learn more and apply at


If anyone is planning to be in the Washington, DC area during that time, it looks like a very interesting event.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Diversity in networking

Being a part of the fD network allows us to come near art/cultural spaces globally rather than the local networks which are narrowed by personal relationships like we have in Egypt. Those virtual networks don’t have regular gatherings, common goals or even an online discussion like we have here probably due to the lack of a leading organization.

I believe the most valuable benefit one should acquire through a network is “setting common goals”; I agree with Wondercabinet about collaborating with similar organization to share ideas/projects, and most likely set common goals where then you could magnify the area of your possible collaborates by including organizations who are totally different than yours; each is working on a separate project/event but at the end of the day we are all assembling one message.The way fD got Artkhana involved into the “Take to the Sea” project is a good example on how to gather diverse local and foreign organizations/activists/artists to carry out different projects under the same umbrella. There are different groups working on a research project, a documentary, an interactive map and a short animated film all addressing the issue of economic migration using different approaches and targeting a wider, diverse audience. It’s a goal driven project.

Networking - Take to the Sea Project and collaborative research

I'm very interested to learn more about the "Take to the Sea" project addressing the issue of economic migration.  This might be the kind of case study that Iz from Cura Bodrum Residency requested in her post. The Cura Bodrum Residency is also interested and working on the issue of "human movement".

The Take to the Sea project looks like it is incorporating a number of different ways for organizations, artists and activists to get involved. You mentioned a number of ways that organizations are coming together to network, pool resources and offer different areas of expertise.

I want to share an example - coming from an organization working on another kind of issue - trade globalization (also impacting human migration). Perhaps this "case study" example might spark some ideas or interest for activists and Art Spaces to think about how they could use participatory research for building networks, collaboration and community engagement.

Research for Action: A region-wide participatory process to build participation, awareness & advocacy on trade policies is from SEACON in Malaysia. It serves as a useful guide for organizations in creating participatory research projects that effectively involve and empower the people impacted by the issues they are studying.

I would like to learn more about the “Take to the Sea” project and other ways that Art Spaces have been networking.

Also, how are you using your Art Spaces to facilitate collaborations and engagement with your community? 

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

"Take to the Sea" and Community engagement

You can find lots of articles and documentations regarding the Take to the Sea project and economic migration on the fD network,

Regarding your questions, I have a good example; Artkhana and freeDimensional in cooperation with the Swiss embassy in Cairo organized a workshop entitled “Storyboarding". The workshop was held in Artkhana, Alexandria July 10th - 19th 2009. The workshop had several objectives:

  • Providing participants with the techniques and skills required to develop a storyboard

  • Introduce the idea of discussing social issues through arts

  • Get the participants and the public audience familiar with the issue of economic migration

Basically we had two audiences, the artists attending the workshop and the public audience who were invited on the last day to - attend the screening of some short films on economic migration that were sent to us from another art space, Arteast. – join the exhibition prepared by the participants were their sketches concerning migration were posted – finally attend a speech on economic migration by Nicole Providoli from the Swiss embassy which presented a good overview about economic migration. We were supposed to host an activist who will tell another speech but unfortunately she apologized a day before the exhibition.

Technically, this was an introductory workshop for the first production phase of the short animated film, but we also wanted to get more audience involved and to let more people know about the animation project and accordingly we should educate them about economic migration.

At the end, we had a variety of artists, art spaces representatives and the public in addition to the organizers, trainers and partners, involved in one event which was a quick and easy method to create shared visions and deliver a message of awareness.


how can we share our production?

I find it very helpful that you share all your process and pedagogical approach in creating this workshop and event. 

I have been trying to get a hold of the Take to the Sea project and wanted to see more of the outcomes of your workshop. It would be great if we could create a resource sharing site/ link, where projects on the same issues that we work on are pooled together. It would be amazing now if I could have access to all the films you screened, the take to the sea documents and your storyboards... This would strengthen and speed up our collaborations. 

sharing productions

the site/link seems a good idea, I would compile all mterials we have and share them with you, but for now yo can check the wo links on the fD network from my previous post. as for the films, I will check if they are somewhere on the internet because we recived them on a dvd.

online tool for collaboration: the fD website

iz oztat wrote:

It would be great if we could create a resource sharing site/ link, where projects on the same issues that we work on are pooled together. It would be amazing now if I could have access to all the films you screened, the take to the sea documents and your storyboards... This would strengthen and speed up our collaborations. 


This sort of collaboration and resource sharing is something that fD aims to support--not only through connecting potential collaborators that might not otherwise find each other, but also through providing a virtual space where these collaborations can unfold. That is the beauty of the Ning program that hosts our website. The "Take to the Sea" group can hold information like files and links and images and movies which others can then access and respond to. []

Does this sound like it would be helpful for you, Iz and Eslam? How else can fD support this sort of art space collaboration around a particular issue? 

Collaboration of migration projects

Alicia Marván - artist . curator . activist -

yes, I am very interested in threading our different projects related to Migration somehow, perhaps using the Ning as a springboard. I suggest we do this after the NT dialogue.

sharing resources more effectively


You mention that we already have the technology avaliable to make this resource sharing  possible. The next step in this direction might be encouraging partners to share more of their production online and even provide some information about creative commons...

Eslam, thanks for your positive response to sharing resources and production ideas. Since we work on the same issues and you are already active, we have a lot to learn from you... 

online tool for collaboration: the fD website

I think using the fD ning to gather our productions on economic migration will be a smart pick as the Take to the Sea group is already there, we could even include issues/productions related to migration in general to the same group or creating a sister group or general migration “ will need Todd & Karen’s advice on this”.

I also suggest that any interested artspaces/activists should add a link and a short description on their own websites that connects directly to the migration group/s on the ning. This way it is not only us who are visiting the group but our website visitors as well.

How could we attract more productions on migration to be added to the group?

Thought of a call for artspaces/independent artists to share their work with us while we could handle the procedures of uploading the files to the ning.

fD website and adopting new technologies


 I like how you are thinking, Esso. Creating a group is easy to do once you have a profile on the Ning. And once you have a group, you can invite people to join it or link to it on your own websites. If you feel the Take to the Sea group is too specific, perhaps you want to create a sister group, or perhaps the Take to the Sea group can expand. 

Iz mentioned encouraging partners to go about putting materials on the site. I think this has to do with how new technologies get adopted. Ari, Todd, and I are constantly encouraging folks to make use of this resource, but until it feels useful to them, there's only so much we can do. If anyone has ideas of how we can encourage more or make it more user friendly--Please let us know!  

Curious to hear how the New Tactics folks have approached this in their work with this incredible site.  

Encouraging participation and collaboration online

Hi Karen, Esso and others,

Thanks for the great compliment! I'm glad you think the New Tactics site is a good resource for you. For us, making this site more userfriendly and intuitive is an ongoing task - especially with few resources.  So while we undertake this process of improving the site - this cannot slow down our desire to have more and more participation in the website. Yes, we do a lot of 'encouraging,' and I can sympathize with your point that 'until it feels useful to them, there's only so much we can do.'  We have a vison that someday New Tactics community members will start and facilitate their own featured online dialogues, like this one! But until then, we so strongly believe that practitioners' participation in these activities are beneficial to themselves and others (on so many levels!) that we take the time to identify the topic of the dialogue, recruit participants, and facilitate each dialogue. Almost always, after the activity the participants' feedback is 'wow that was so helpful!'

fD's Ning site looks awesome! You have so a large community already there. This is such a great opportunity for you to engage that online community in some focused-activities!  

Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

Kritstin,  You wrote You


You wrote

You have so a large community already there. This is such a great opportunity for you to engage that online community in some focused-activities!  

This sentence you contributed helps me understand and learn more about the nature of social networks and how they can be utilized further. So far, we have been talking about gathering resources and practices related to migration that we are producing and also possibly that we have come across. I really like Esso's idea of accumulating any practice or project that we come across to create a pool of experiences. Do you think this is already "engaging our online community in a focused activity or are you suggesting something else? In this case, we are talking about pooling together members, who work in relation to migration. How could we engage the rest of the online community in our work?


Engaging the fD Ning community to share experiences/resources

Hi Iz, thanks for your questions!  I am happy to help you with ideas, anyway I can - but I certainly do not know all the answers (yet!) to engaging online communities. 

Both of the ideas proposed in this thread - bringing together fD practitioners working on the issue of migration, and practitioners that have used the 'Take to the Sea' resources - are great!  I think it is identifying those 'topics' around which you will organize the participants and resources which is the trickiest part!  At New Tactics, we have decided to organize our dialogues, groups, and tactical examples around 'tactics.'  Yes, the term may seem pretty broad - but by using 'tactics' as the way to organize our material we know that we can engage practitioners working in many different countries, and on many different human rights issues. 

For example, it would be great to organize an online community in the fD ning space of practitioners work in relation to migration. The next step will be to engage them in meaningful peer-to-peer online exchanges about resources, experiences, challenges, etc. It doesn't have to be on 'tactics' - but we would be happy to share with you this idea! (we are all about Creative Commons!)  

Having another community around strategizing, identifying goals, etc by using the 'Take to the Sea' resources would be helpful to many practitioners in your ning website!  These groups/communities/resources just need to be framed in a way that the participant can understand what it is that they can learn from their participation, and this is sometimes a very challenging part of engaging online communities (or at least this is my very humble opinion!).

Esso writes in his comment Diversity in networking, the need for being able to identify 'common goals' and this is another important aspect of finding what this common language can be.  We use the terminology of strategy and tactics because it allows for partnerships and collaborations to emerge without the need to agree on over-arching goals - this is where the importance of identifying those common smaller-goals that you share with other practitioners, comes in handy! I hope this is helpful...

Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

images from Artkhana's storyboard workshop

Elsam's colleague Siam posted all these cool images from the storyboarding workshop in Alexandria on economic migration by sea.  There will be a full page highlight of this process in the Fall issue of Contemporary Practices magazine thanks to fD's design team (Ari and Adham)!

RESUMEN en ESPANOL – 23/09 y 24/09


En losprimeros dos días la conversación sobre redes (networks) se concentró en lossiguientes temas: 

Diversificaciónde redes—cómo extender nuestras redes a otras redes o otros sectores que muchasveces no se hablan. El propio sitio web de New Tactics es un ejemplo de unesfuerzo de expandir las conversaciones sobre los derechos humanos, dijo unaparticipante.

Mapping—algunosparticipantes compartían recursos el proceso de “mapear” nuestros recursos,redes, y tácticos en la Red. 

Tácticos—decomo los espacios de arte pueden tomar contacto o engranar con sus comunidades,y específicamente con los niños. Se ofrecieron varios ejemplos de modelos de estocomo el concepto de artistas que enseñan, relaciones con escuelas locales, y programasque ponen un artista residente en contacto con niños.

El temade migración económica – un tema que ha sido tratado por varios espacios dearte en la red freeDimensional. El centro Artkhana compartió unos ejemplos deun taller que ofrecieron a la comunidad sobre este tema.



I'm involved with several different networks, of various sizes. Some as an artist, some as an organisation and some just because I find the format intriguing. I'll speak, not so much about the network (you can see their websites) but how they support my live, work and projects. 

Res Artis: (  global family, 'case study' of every type of residency structure possible, international information distribution, 

Facebook: ( local network (specific local information and resources), local information distribution, 

FreeDimensional: ( future project partners, small intimate group, crossover into other 'dimensions' (human rights, etc) ( not technically a network, but I sort of treat it like one, I always check this site before visiting a new place or if I am curious about a city, interesting individuals and projects  

Local list-serves,  word of mouth, 

global knowledge / regional action

Alicia Marván - artist . curator . activist -

Trying to recap and wrap-up our very exiting dialog, I wantto attempt to make some personal conclusions, specifically dealing with theissues of resources’ accessibility andmigration. I arrive at the following almost contradictory realizations:

As an artist, curator and activist, I am often (willingly ornot) continuosly migrating to where professional and economic opportunitiesare. Although I immensely enjoy travelling and learning about our complexworld, this constant shifting and root-less existance is becoming increasinglydistressful.

 As a community leader that cares about individual andcollective fulfillment, I realize that this objective is strongly dependant onidentity reinforcement through sense of place. Yet, it is hard to “stay put”when resources are scarce in marginalized regions.

So then, this great idea of global knowledge / regional action we’re proposingthrough our programs just needs some extra resources so we can fully flourish,and that’s where networking comes in…




We invite activists and art spaces to reflect on the following general questions about measuring the impact of your work. In addition, there a number of questions we hope Art Spaces will address and share about their specific experiences.

General Questions:

  • What collaborations or partnerships has your art space developed (e.g., NGOs, government offices/services, educational institutions, galleries/museums, etc)?
  • What creative ways of measuring your success or impact do you use?
  • How do you measure community engagement? Community action? Or what are indicators of a successful engagement with the community?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness of networks or other collaborations?

Questions for Art Spaces:

  • What do you think are worthwhile indicators to measure the success or impact for Art Spaces?
  • As a member of the freeDimensional network, do you have some ideas for measuring your collective impact?



En la línea de “Cuantificar el impacto” se han compartido varias herramientas para documentar o mapear su impacto, sus programas, y sus comunidades. Algunas de estas herramientas son: para crear encuestas gratis en la Red

Tactical Mapping de New Tactics para visualizar los tácticos que se están usando

Luego, el diálogo mudó al tema de comunidad, cómo la definimos, y cómo elegimos y damos importancia a ciertos temas o asuntos de importancia a la comunidad. Para un participante que dirige una residencia de escritores, el tema se vieron con capacidades a tratar es la marginalización lingüística—creando un espacio parala creación de obras literarias en idiomas que muchas veces no se publican, para sostenerlos.

Algunos comentarios se aplicaron a la idea de la comunidad virtual frente a la real, física. Por una parte el Internet nos da acceso a gente del mundo entero que pueden tener intereses en común con nosotros. Por otra parte, esta conexión virtual puede reemplazar importantes enlaces físicas con las personas con quienes compartimos costumbres, tierras, historias. Encuentros de cara-a-cara, como va a acontecer con los participantes en el coloquio de Conectas que va a tener lugar en Brasil o que ocurrió con el grupo de espacios de arte emergentes en Canadá, son más que nunca importantes para fortalecer nuestro trabajo.




Ceative impact measures

I was struck by comments that Todd made in "some other examples besides Creative Safe Haven" and DW provided in more on "community" that might provide some ideas for Art Spaces to document their impact.

Todd wrote:

Another example fD learned about at its Cairo hub The Townhouse Gallery.  We worked with the Tadamon Multicultural Council,
which is made up of over 25 refugee and community groups in Cairo. 
This council was formed by The Townhouse responding to a need in its
community ... very simply, these groups needed a place to meet and
Townhouse allowed its 'art space' to be used for community purposes.
The council is now fully registered and has its own offices but the
Townhouse's role in helping the council get on its feet is important to

DW wrote:

Part of Sangam House's mandate is supporting writers working in
marginalized regional languages, particularly in South Asia. We provide
public readings and discussions where those from the local villages and
neighborhoods are introduced (or re-introduced) to writers working in
the local languages. Our hope here is to help preserve (and sustain)
these local canons before they disappear -- or are gobbled up by
English. This is the most immediate and substantial form of community
engagement that we have found. It provides social interaction, utilizes
the communities physical facilities, addresses a major concern for the
communities (preservation of mother tongue), and encourages others
about what might be possible within said community. (That is, one
doesn't have to switch to English and go running off to Delhi or London
or New York to make meaningful literary contributions.) 

I think these are certainly forms of "qualitative" impact measures - as art spaces look at the contribution being made not only to individual expression, community empowerment but also in terms of support of other organizations and network building, and cultural preservation. Bravo!

These kinds of successes might be documented as "unforeseen" positive impacts. I doubt that fD set out to provide this kind of support to the Tadamon Mulitcultural Center. But it certainly shows the power of collective collaboration and resource sharing. Perhaps with, Sangam House also did not set out to preserve local languages - but this provides a  tremendous service and source of empowerment and pride to communities. 

Can others share stories of goals and successes that they INTENDED to reach as well as stories like this of successes that were unintended?

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Hi there! In the process

Hi there!

In the process of creation of Mamuta Center in Ein Karem-Jerusalem, we are constructing and working with different networks we want to work with: local artists, neighbours, international and local networks of art center, artists, ngo's and so on.
With each different group we of course work in different ways, but what we would like to comment here is the way we are working know on our opening public art event next 15-17 Oct., under the name "What's hidden behind the pastoral?"
We have the network of artists who submitted proposal of projects and are going to show in the center and in the village works related to the history of this former Palestinian village, with the "owning" of landscape, and other site specific approaches.
Besides that we started to generate an digital archive about the history of the village, concentrating information to be open for the public, making some interviews with actual inhabitant and trying to map and reach former Palestinian inhabitants or information already gathered.
We are working on a sound tour in the village for the event which is going to mix between the local actual version history of the village - through a local organization of actual neighbours with the voices of Palestinian before 48 through a NGO organization dealing with the recovery of the Palestinian history, of the camp of Jewish refugees who inhabit the village in the beginning of the 50' through private people we connected and so on.

What we are trying to do is actually to open connections between artists, local neighbours, and organization dealing with the same issues, trying to open the platform for further connection between those organization, artists, researchers and public in general. In this phase of organization the connections are working quite well.
Coming back to the discussion about activism, we don't call our practice in the center as activist because it would not help us in developing the project the way we want, it would not allow us to generate the connections in the openness we would like to make them. Art project allow us to work freely but it's also not enough to describe the way of our approach to Mamuta scene. We would try to be more clear next days, we are already happy that we can at least make a brief contribution to this amazing dialogue ( we have here in the places we r staying in buenos aires no Internet access , so it's very hard for us to follow the discussion and take part they way we planned)

lea and diego

Making connections work

Lea and Diego,

I'm so glad that you were able to make this great contribution to the dialogue. You provide such an excellent example of how you are making the connections between artists, organizations and neighbors but also history, space and time. Your upcoming public art event sounds incredible and a powerful way to bring people to a deeper understanding of their own history, time and space by engaging with the art exhibit. 

I'd like to hear more about how Mamuta has been able to bring such diverse communities together for this project.

Your comment about not calling your practice "activism" is an important point to raise. I understand this and put it into a framework of how best to find common ground with the people you are trying to reach out to and engage. Some may think this is being deceptive. I believe, however, that if you are truly finding those places of common ground - and using values, ideas and concepts that express that common ground - it provides a place of integrity for foundation building.

Is this Mamuta's first time to do such an art event with such a diverse group of collaborators? Have other Art Spaces experienced this challenge of building common ground with diverse neighbors and the broader public to engage them in the work you are doing?

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

justice and memory


Lea and Diego,

Thanks for sharing about your project at Mamuta. Recently I have been reading a lot about transitional justice (defined as by the Center for Transitional Justice as "a response to systematic or widespread violations of human rights") and the mechanisms used in its name--from truth and reconciliation commissions to international tribunals to monuments, oral history projects, and memory sites (we've already seen earlier postings about the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience

It seems that regardless of the terminology you're using, the collecting of history and diverse voices in this charged context is about justice. In many instances the arts context can open up long-sealed doors and have social impact where more formal transitional justice mechanisms can be divisive, slow, or politically manipulated. There are topics that can be addressed both more directly and somehow more delicately in an arts space than they can at other levels of society.  

Where can we learn more about this Mamuta initiative?

openness and mediation

Dear lea and diego,

I really appriciate this post and to learn about how this project unravelled and provided a ground to negotiate a common memory that will work against the myths that are erected through ideologies.

The point about the "openness" you are able approach people with and not instrumentalizing this process, instead of activating it; being a mediator, is crucial I think. The language around human rights or activism does not always allow for open ended processes that are not aim oriented. I feel that you have to work towards an identified goal. when it comes to art spaces/ practices, it is possible to trigger processes that will evolve in their own ways to find their own function. This openness is the most precious aspect of the practices we can introduce.

so glad to hear about your project. I hope you share some of it online so we can experience more of the outcomes. 


Hi there,

I appreciate the approach
of this project and what it contributes to our thinking about mapping and
community engagement.  My name is
Shauna McCabe and I was one of the participants in the panel discussion on
human mobility in Istanbul hosted by Iz and Todd. I have been working as a
curator and administrator of art spaces in Canada for the last decade, and for
the last 3 years researching, curating, and teaching based at Mount Allison University, a small
college in a mainly rural, touristic, post-industrial area of eastern Canada on the Atlantic Ocean.
My creative and research interests in tactical mapping and social
practice/creative practice were the basis for an initiative at the university
called CHARTS

As a result of my background
in developing contexts for creative 
engagement, I have been interested in approaching “teaching” in the same
way – facilitating process. I have been working with students from across
disciplines using creative practice as a means of investigation – focusing on a
way of working and engaging community in order to build knowledge and better understand the histories that shape
contemporary experience and environments. This is less of an art space, and more of a mobile
research initiative, using a kind of residency model and site specific
approach where global issues are explored on
the ground, through contingency and context, so that in each case the project
involves constructing the different questions and the networks that are necessary and make sense
to develop and carry them out. Each project takes a different approach as a result, but involves opening exchanges and building relationships between researchers, artists, scientists, writers, historians, local residents, municipal, national or international organizations dealing with the
same issues, building relationships that persist and may develop.

Coming back to the
discussion about activism, like "What's hidden behind the pastoral?",
although activism is not a defining objective, change is a central
concept. Generating forms of knowledge that emerge from and contribute back to
community, the projects become a means to generating ways of seeing and
imagining alternatives, and in this sense creative representation may also be a
tool for social change.

This past August, the
students explored creative research methods as part of a collaborative
initiative called DodoLab, ( developed by the University of
Waterloo and the Musagetes Foundation in Canada and involving CHARTS, Proboscis (UK) and Broken City Lab (Windsor). This particular version of DodoLab took
place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and involved participants with
local residents, artists, community groups, organizations, to look at issues of
landscape change, ideas of "green-ness," sustainability, and resilience, and the changing relationship of urban
and rural in the particular context of the landscape of Prince Edward Island. This project will likely be developing further internationally, linking to the network of art spaces in conjunction with freedimensional...

cheers, Shauna




from measuring to storytelling


Today when we speak about impact, we are often drawn (or encouraged by funders) to think in terms of objective, quantifiable pieces of information like how many artists did you support? how many visitors attended your programs? how did participants in your program rank the experience? etc. There are two problems with using these strategies to talk about the impact of the work we do as art space administrators or artists. One is that numbers only talk about that part of our work that can be quantified and therefore overemphasizes these elements. Another is that, even when numbers are obtainable, they may actually say very little about the impact of a particular program or action on, say, a community or a particular social justice issue.

This doesn't mean we should abandon the search for the impact of our work--or track quantifiable data when possible--, but that we should recognize that oftentimes the most important part of our impact may elude measurement. 

Over the past four years, fD has assisted over 40 culture workers and activists-in-distress through the fD network through creative safe haven placements, information services, and other forms of institutional support. This number is important. But so is the the fact that last summer 12 art spaces from around the world got to know one another and learn from each other's struggles--the results of this fD hosted encounter will no doubt impact these centers, their programming, and their communities, but in such diverse ways that we can't put it on a graph or in a spreadsheet.

Lucky for us to be part of a sector that uses creative media to express ideas and tell stories.  This year, fD tried to do this with a series of videos produced during the Wasan Island retreat that you can find at the top of this dialogue. 

I wonder: Is this an effective way to show our impact? 

How else can we show the power of a network of art spaces linked by an interest in engaging community issues and hosting activism?  


Measuring impact using video, and possibly other media

Hi Karen,

I always enjoy learning about the ways in which practitioners measure their impact (we usually have a theme like this in each dialogue - because it is such challenge!).  It is also a challenge for us, at New Tactics, to measure the impact of peer-to-peer exchanges like these.  What we have implemented, is a way to take anecdotes from practitioners that have used the New Tactics resources, and identify commonalities.  We have identified 4 common 'levels of impact' and 4 comment 'types of impact.'  Once we have these 'categories,' we are able to take new and old anecdotes, and code them.  This way, we are able to more easily share the types of impact we see most often, and how often, etc.  We are still trying to find a good way of collecting these anecdotes - so if you have any ideas, please share!

I LOVE the videos that fD produced about the Wasan Island retreat.  Video interviews with participants talking about the impact of the activities/workshops/event would also be a nice idea.  For me, I think it is important to not only identify and articulate the impact your organization is having (for your organization and your donors), but also to have some kind of documented memory of what the organization accomplished so that it will still be around 5 years from now! Video is a great way of documenting these stories - and sharing them with a wide audience.  Now you've really got me thinking about how New Tactics could better utilize video.....Thanks!

How do others measure/show/document impact?

Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

Impact of network present through collaborations like these

We think that the impact of the network is going to be present through the collaboration and participation in common projects (like this right now), we mean not for the funders but for ourselves right now.

The use fd as concious affiliation from our side is also an important fact. The video are a great tool for documentaion, the retreat was a great experience
where we leraned a lot.

We propose also maybe to set every two month at least
a way of exchange meeting, or virtual dinner-breakfast as was suggest.
In wasan we had a talk of how to share and collaborat, we hope we'll be able to come up
soon with  a specific project that can generat collaboration between the centers through fD,
and again sorry for the intermitences, we are still in buenos aires...

ld mamuta

Threats - strange impact indicators

Front Line Defenders is a wonderful organization that assists human rights defenders around the world. In terms of measuring impact, Front Line talks about the paradox of threats being seen almost as a measure of an individual's and/or group's effectiveness. If you aren't being effective, no one is taking any notice of what you are doing.

I've been thinking about this during the dialogue from a number of perspectives: 1) the artists/activists that are needing safe haven - where they have reached a level of effective that those in power want to find ways to stop their work or eliminate them completely; and 2) art spaces that come under scrutiny for the work they are doing and may be targeted in a number of ways - bureaucratic red tape; taxes; fees; inability to renew leases (as was mentioned in the dialogue; closures; to the targeting of staff.

I want to be sure that we don't forget to provide a link to the wonderful resources provided on the Front Line website for people and organizations to consider and evaluate their security situations. 

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager


Topic locked