The variety of topics, program formats and approaches offered multiple entry points and opportunities for people to engage across a wide spectrum of issues. In addition, this initiative enabled the 13 outstanding Fellows to advance their own work at the nexus of art and social change and to meet and explore possible collaborations with other Fellows. The website remains as a dynamic, living archive of the inquiries pursued throughout the year, and informs a broader conversation around the critical role art plays in supporting equality and justice.
The Art of Change was an initiative with the Ford Foundation exploring the interplay of art and social change in the world today.
This past year Helicon Collaborative helped conceive, curate and produce the Art of Change, a yearlong initiative from the Ford Foundation exploring the interplay of art and social justice. The project included a fellowship program for creative visionaries, a series of catalytic events exploring different themes, and a website (ongoing). The project sought to stimulate a meaningful dialogue among artists, cultural leaders, scholars, activists and social justice leaders around important questions and opportunities that lie at the intersection of art, culture and social change.
The Art of Change engaged a broad cross-section of artists, cultural leaders, activists and other thinkers in fresh discussions of issues that are not frequently addressed, including the role of beauty in a just society and how art can contribute to movements for social change. Through these conversations, we hoped to advance our understanding of how expression and creativity can help shape a more just and equitable future for all.
Over the course of the year, the thirteen Visiting Fellows – Robert Battle, Thelma Golden, Amitav Ghosh, David Henry Hwang, Deeyah Khan, Arnold Lehman, Joy Mboya, Laura Poitras, Bill Rauch, Toshi Reagon, Pedro Reyes, Albie Sachs and Carrie Mae Weems –pursued independent projects on critical issues such as surveillance, climate change, drug policy and capitalism, soft power, diversity in the arts, social networks and the power of technology.
Through a series of 11 convenings and gatherings, we engaged more than 800 people in live discussions, examining the relationship of culture to themes of identity, meaning, diversity and freedom. These events explored topics such as art, identity and movements; the essential role of beauty in society, and diversity in the arts. Program participants came from across the U.S., and included cultural leaders, social justice activists and other thought-leaders. Some of the convenings were also livestreamed and broadcast to viewers around the world, including to several partner screening sites who hosted their supplementary programming.
The website was a hub for the Art of Change initiative, hosting original content from the Fellows and events, as well as curated content related to the themes being addressed. The site is still sharing both curated and original content, including Fellow interviews, relevant articles and conversations, and video of the various Art of Change events.