Today I am full of rage. Once again, I woke up to text messages and emails about another senseless killing of an unarmed black man. No, I have not watched the video and I don’t plan to. No, I have not posted a hashtag. No, I have not attended a meeting.
Since the founding Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC, I have increasingly been asked about the ability of creativity and arts projects to actually achieve social transformation. I have been interrogated by artists, administrators, educators, organizers and others who are looking for sustainable practices to shift the issues that most impact communities.
People want to know how art improves daily life. People want to know how art and creativity can end violence, racism, homophobia, poverty, and health disparities. People want answers. What I continue to learn is that the answers reside with the people, the folks who refuse to lay down and give up in the face of spiritual, psychological, and physical warfare waged against them.
Over the course of a year, BDAC’s strategists, fellows, interns, and collaborators have been on a journey to build out a Poetics of Engagement that consists of virtual, in-person, and media-based offerings, tools, strategies, and methods for transformation and impact through arts, cultural, justice, and social praxis projects.
As BDAC’s work grows and deepens, we have been able to clarify our institutional approach to strategic engagement. Here is what we are building so far:
1. CATAPULT COMMUNITY: CELEBRATING CULTURAL INNOVATION (launch July 6);
2. Cultural Arts Direct Action Laboratory (training institute, launch fall 2016);
3. Body Ecology Womanist Performance Project (re-launched spr. 2016); and,
4. The launch of an impact assessment framework for social praxis arts, creative action, and cultural liberation projects (launch winter 2016).
While many of us are in a moment of mourning, now is the perfect time to to affirm the long-standing creative revolution that has sustained grassroots movements for liberation for generations. Today BDAC launches Catapult Community to celebrate and highlight visionaries in cultural innovation. This initiative helps BDAC provide working frameworks and solutions-oriented, love-centered models that can be activated by local communities working for liberation.