Join the Conversation: Artists as Agents of Change


Use the hashtag #ArtsFwd to join James and Virtual Summit participants from around the world for a conversation about this topic on Monday, October 21 at 1:00pm EST. Learn more and register for the free Virtual Summit here

Artists are mouthpieces. The public doesn’t know the names of producers or curators. Be it on film, television, or stage, artists have the greatest exposure. They have fans. They can engage those fans to evoke change. Creators like Shepard Fairey buoyed a freshman senator to the highest office in the land. Change is political. And if institutions want to generate populist change, they’ll do so by rallying the masses.

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.- Victor Pinchuk

One of the quickest ways to do this is by supporting talented, visionary artists who have followings. In this age of lightning-fast interconnectedness, the memes that fly fastest grow from individual artists’ creativity. And artists who have the greatest support spread their messages the swiftest. On their own, artists struggle and shout from rooftops, but with an organization behind them, they can broadcast to the world.

Join the conversation!

I’m honored to be a part of the conversation happening at the end of October at the National Innovation Summit for Arts & Culture. For my part, I am facilitating an online discussion about Artists as Agents of Change.

This Talk session at the Summit has some amazing speakers lined up, including Todd London, Artistic Director at New Dramatists, Laura Zabel, Executive Director at Springboard for the Arts, and Ruby Lerner, President & Founding Director at Creative Capital. They’ll be speaking about how institutions that support individual artists can create mutual systems to tap into the resource of artists in local communities. They will explore rules of artistic engagement and what it means to lead. Finally, they will examine artists who work in science, technology, community organizing, entrepreneurship, and the media.

Let’s explore these ideas together during the Virtual Summit. What is your organization’s relationship with artists? Do believe it is an organization’s responsibility to broadcast artists’ messages? How might artists enhance your organization’s mission or even your staff? In what way do you support artists so they can influence your community? What partnerships with other, non-arts related organizations or companies does your organization have? How do you find artists who can impact your community?

When an institution invests in an individual artist, they offer freedom. Freedom to research. Freedom to think. Freedom to play. Freedom to grow.  Freedom to share. And freedom can change the world.

Join James and Virtual Summit participants from around the world during the Artists as Agents of Change Talk series on Monday, October 21 at 1:00pm EST. Learn more and register for the free Virtual Summit here

Speakers in the Artists as Agents of Change Talk Series

Ruby Lerner, President & Founding Director, Creative Capital
Policy, Prisons, and Pranks: Artists Collide with the World

Ruby Lerner is the founding President and Executive Director of Creative Capital. Prior to Creative Capital, Lerner served as the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Film and Videomakers (AIVF) and as Publisher of the highly regarded Independent Film and Video Monthly. Having worked regionally in both the performing arts and independent media fields, she served as the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a coalition of Southeastern performing artists, and IMAGE Film/Video Center, both based in Atlanta. In the late 1970s, she was the Audience Development Director at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Her undergraduate degree is in comparative religion from Goucher College.

Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts
Artist/Community/Reciprocity: Helping Communities Ask More From and For Their Artists

Laura Zabel is executive director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency based in Minnesota. Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life; and programs that help communities tap into the resource that artists provide. Some of Springboard’s projects include: Community Supported Art (CSA); the Artists Access to Healthcare program; and the Irrigate project, a national model for how cities can engage artists to help reframe and address big community challenges. Laura is also an actor and lives in Minneapolis with her comedy writer husband, Levi Weinhagen, and their 7-year old daughter.

Todd London, Artistic Director, New Dramatists
Changing the Rules of Artistic Engagement

Todd London is in his eighteenth season as artistic director of New Dramatists in New York, the nation’s oldest laboratory for playwrights. A George Jean Nathan Award-winning essayist, this year saw the publication of his collected essays, The Importance of Staying Earnest (NoPassport Press) and An Ideal Theater: Founding Visions for a New American Art (Theatre Communications Group). In 2009 Todd became the first recipient of TCG’s Visionary Leadership Award for “an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the theatre field as a whole, nationally and/or internationally.”

James Carter is a dramatist, experience designer and producer. He was a founding member of terraNOVA Collective and its associate artistic director for eight years. Recent transmedia plays include FEEDER: A Love Story and NY_Hearts: LES. For more about James, read his blog where he explores the intersection of art and technology, or follow him on Twitter @jdcarter.