Arts & Cultural Strategy is a methodology integrated across Othering & Belonging Institute programs, partnerships, research, conferences, workshops and more.
Cultural strategy is the integration of culture (values, norms, practices, ways of relating, symbols, lived experience) in economic and political change efforts to make them deeply meaningful and whole. Cultural strategy is guided by the emerging and existing wisdom in communities directly targeted by othering. It cultivates and amplifies the cultural power of these communities in co-creating economic and political systems of belonging. It shifts what and whose knowledge is made actionable in creating belonging without othering.
Victory at Xwe'ch eXen, from Frames for Life, Liberation, & Belonging
Arts & Cultural Strategy strengthens the Institute’s efforts to create sticky and holistic belonging by extending the reach, relevance, rigor and regenerative impacts of our work.
Four essential practices guide our principled approach to how we design and engage activities:
- Cultivate vibrant and diverse forms of cultural practice that support the growth of leadership and practice of those directly and deeply impacted by systems of oppression;
- Amplify the knowledge, insight and vision that comes through culture and cultural production, and create containers and experiences where this knowledge, insight and vision can be expressed and understood on its own terms
- Align with efforts for economic, political and social change
- Make cultural, economic and political change into a new “common sense.”
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The Arts & Cultural Strategy Committee is composed of: Sarah Crowell, Mina Girgis, Erica Rawles, Cecilie Surasky.
Projects, Research and Initiatives
Cultures of Care
Cultures of Care celebrates people that practice collective care in unconventional and insurgent ways. Care is an essential, immediate and practical way to create belonging. This project combines videos, podcasts, writing and learning guides.
Revisit our launch conversation with john a. powell, Dani McClain, Kristina Wong and Elliot Kukla.
Artist Circle on Climate Displacement
We convened a cohort of six artists whose work grapples with displacement, migration and/or our impending climate catastrophe and the endless forms of environmental injustice that are endured by disparate populations all over the world due to ever-increasing climate pressures. Over six months, we met as artists. We shared our work, critiques, stories, and produced new work. In the process, we generated new understandings, questions and approaches to making art and telling stories that can address the complexity of climate displacement.
Watch a 10-minute video reflection from the artists
Belonging: A Weekly Practice
Is Belonging a destination, a practice or both? How do we cultivate the skills, flexibility and muscle to make belonging real? How do we balance belonging in society at large, our selves, and our relationships? Have you attended past OBI events and want to dig in a little deeper? Join us in a weekly practice space hosted by the Othering and Belonging Institute (OBI) and facilitated by Sarah Crowell (Artistic Director emeritus at Destiny Arts Center, Strategic Partnerships at OBI), Evan Bissell (Arts & Cultural Strategy Coordinator at OBI) and Ashley Gallegos (Belonging Coordinator at OBI). In this 60 minute drop-in we’ll mix personal reflection, movement and critical inquiry to stretch our own understandings and applications of belonging. This is a space for discussion, co-creation, vulnerability and growth.
Register here (*note the practice space will restart October 3rd 2022, and meets Mondays at noon PT)
Staying Power Fellowship
An arts-based participatory action research project focused on belonging, public storytelling and policy development to prevent displacement in Richmond, California. You can read our policy report here, view the mural here or download the original book of poetry here
Notes on a Cultural Strategy for Belonging
Our strategy paper from 2019 that outlines how and why we do this work at the Othering & Belonging Institute. The paper includes dozens of examples of arts and culture projects, four essential practices and a workshop guide.
- Belonging: A Poem in Three Parts — presented at the 2021 OBI Conference
- Cultural Strategy Learning Lab recording — presented at the 2021 OBI Conference
- Artist in Residence program (2018-2020)
- Frames for Life, Liberation & Belonging — presented at the 2018OBI Conference
- Animated Explainers arts-integrated curriculum
Who We've Worked With
- Complex Movements
- Christine Wong Yap
- Roberto Bedoya
- Dania Cabello
- Brett Cook
- Aswat Ensemble
- Ashara Ekundayo
- Melanie DeMore
- Studio Pathways
- Whole Story
- Power California
- Michael Bennet
- Dawn Lyen-Gardner
- Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah
- Shakti Butler
- Damon Davis
- Tarell Alvin McCraney
- Elizabeth Alexander
- LaToya Ruby Frazier
- Taro Hittori: Rolling Counterpoint
- The Nile Project
- Judith Smith and AXIS Dance Company
- Guillermo Gómez-Peña
- Valerie Troutt and East Bay Center for the Performing Arts
- Chinaka Hodge
- Antoine Hunter and Urban Jazz dance
- Sadie Barnett
- Micah Bazant
- Fernando Marti
- Campo Santo
- Youth Speaks
- East Bay Center for Performing Arts
- Marvin K. White
- Alima Jennings
- Robert Liu Trujillo
- Dignidade Rebelde
- Destiny Arts
- (the late) Lynn Manning