April 20, 2018

Envisioning change through art

Funding Feminist Artivists for Social Change

When we combine creative expression (art) with action and efforts to achieve political change (activism), we end up with artivism. Through examples of feminist artivism, our Program Officer for Voice Vanina Serra, former Associate Director of Programs at Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Mónica Enríquez Enríquez, and Co-Director of FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund Ruby Johnson make the case for recognising the value it has in effecting political change and making more resources available for artivist work.

Who tells the story matters. Whether it is a written narrative or poem, spoken word, theatre or a dance performance, a painting, a mural, a blog or a photo, it is important that all people get to speak for themselves and tell their own stories.

This is particularly true for people who have been silenced and excluded from public forums, communications platforms and other spaces of expression and decision-making. People who have directly experienced stigma and exclusion are the only ones who are accurately and appropriately able to represent their own experiences, needs and interests, and to articulate and demand their own rights.

Art catalyses change by opening eyes, hearts and spaces for dialogue and connection.

Moreover, artistic expression is transformative for the creator as well as the audience. Telling one’s own story—claiming one’s voice—changes a person and a community in ways that support larger social change by building agency as well as both individual and collective power. Art also transforms audiences by providing accessible entry points for conversations that other forms of persuasive communication may not. Art can contribute to shaping social and cultural norms, determining political agendas, sparking dialogue, catalysing action and helping us imagine a more just world.

Through pictures, videos, bodily expression and new communication technologies, art can reach and mobilize across cultures, borders and languages. Appealing to our senses, art can catalyse difficult-to-measure but indispensable change within people. Art catalyses change by opening eyes, hearts and spaces for dialogue and connection. 

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