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No Going Back: A COVID-19 Cultural Strategy Activation Guide for Artists and Activists

We are in an unprecedented moment of tectonic culture shift – a moment of extreme hardship but also of infinite possibility. The role of the artist has never been more important. Artists are the beacons who help us see the light in times of devastation. Artists expose hard truths, inspire new ideas and make the future we want feel possible, tangible, and inevitable. Artists activate the imagination, they soothe, comfort, and move to action.

As a global society, we are mourning the loss of family and friends, as well as the loss of our ability to sustain ourselves. We are feeling the consequences of an economic system that continues to prioritize profits over people and the planet. We face the decimation of many of our art institutions and the spaces where we gathered – theaters, comedy clubs, dance venues, and cultural centers.

Yet in moments of disillusion and fractures, there is also an opportunity to sow ideas for a different kind of future. We are the creators of culture. We are the makers of fairy tales and myths. Our stories and our cultural expression shape societies and policies, and influence our own conceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Culture IS power.

The narratives of capitalism that have propped up our system – narratives of domination and extraction from the planet, from workers, and from animals – are falling apart. This moment offers us an unprecedented opportunity to propagate the stories that will shape a more just and equitable future.

Artists, let’s own our cultural power. Let’s leverage our songs, stories, images and creative superpowers to imagine and vision the future that we need. A future in which racism and colonization no longer exist, where we are in a regenerative relationship with nature, where we don’t exploit other life because we honor our interconnection and shared destinies.

We created this guide to inspire you to create and to disrupt. This is a guide for makers and doers – it will help you tell a shared story about who we can be in times of crisis and who we want to become. We at The Center for Cultural Power are dedicated to organizing artists to build collective cultural power towards social change and justice. This guide is designed to help you make sense of this crisis in your own terms, through your own unique lens and experience, and to do what you as an artist do best – create and inspire the audiences you are connected to.

We hope this guide will inspire your creations. Together we can create the world we need.

NEC NEWSLETTER

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