Monday, December 19, 2022

Two smiling people pose in front of a colorful wall of art. They lean toward each other in collegial friendship.

Having launched the Animating Democracy program in 1999, Co-Directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza have decided that 2022 completes their tenure providing program leadership for this transformative initiative. 

In 2023, Americans for the Arts will determine Animating Democracy’s next chapter by assessing what the organization can uniquely offer and exploring possible partnerships. We will also continue to promote Animating Democracy’s tools and resources. Barbara will help support the transition with responses to inquiries for information and services, and Pam is venturing into retirement to explore personal interests and opportunities. 

Barbara and Pam have this message to share: 

We have been fortunate and deeply gratified to steward Animating Democracy over the past 23 years in collaboration with many others toward strengthening the role of arts and culture in civic and social change. It’s been an honor to work with a multitude of arts and culture practitioners and leaders, as well as evaluators, researchers, funders, and other professionals committed to arts and culture as invitation, space, and catalyst for upholding the values and practices of democracy, equity, and the well-being of communities. The field has benefitted from Americans for the Arts’ belief in this work and sustained commitment to the Animating Democracy program, providing funding and infrastructure that have enabled it to grow and deepen. As the field landscape has expanded and appropriately diversified with a range of exciting organizations advancing arts-for-change work, we step back and acknowledge and applaud others who are bringing energy and ideas that are making a difference. 

As a program of Americans for the Arts, Animating Democracy shone an early and bright national light on arts-for-change work, built knowledge about quality practice, and created useful resources. The highly regarded program launched with generous support from The Ford Foundation and regranted funds in its early phase to cultural organizations across the country for arts-based civic dialogue and engagement projects. In addition, the program conducted national research, developed seminal field resources and publications, delivered training for capacity building, and influenced policy and funding support for arts-for-change work. Its body of work has inspired, informed, promoted, and helped to make artists and arts and culture an integral and effective part of solutions to the challenges facing communities and toward ensuring a healthy democracy. 

We are honored to have provided consistent support for Animating Democracy’s impactful field-building efforts over these many years. The initiative’s inclusive approaches for developing programs and field initiatives, working with partners and advisory circles, and supporting and uplifting BIPOC artists and leaders doing direct work in the field, etc., continue to inform our work and are being incorporated into program development across the organization.

“It has been a privilege and true pleasure working with Barbara and Pam,” said Americans for the Arts President and CEO Nolen V. Bivens. “I know I speak for all Americans for the Arts staff and partners when I say how much we have benefited from their individual and collective expertise, wisdom, support, and kindness. Though we are reluctant to let them go, we are excited for the next chapter in their journeys.”