We believe in art as a tool for engaging critically with the world and promoting empathy and understanding across divides. We believe that the curiosity, insight, and generative spirit of the artist allow for new worlds of possibility, and that this spark exists in all people. As practitioners of socially engaged art we have committed to translating our artfulness and optimism into service of and engagement with communities on small and large scales, and we reject the authorial role in favor of democratized artmaking.
Taking as a model Sherry Arnstein’s 1969 “Ladder of Citizen Participation” (below), we commit to partnership, delegation, and collaboration with the communities we serve. We renounce all projects that impose harmful hierarchies on communities or threaten, alienate, or manipulate already-present populations.
As Joseph Beuys (quoting Novalis) famously stated, “Everyone is an artist”. We fully support this notion, as well as Beuys’ belief that art is not a specialized profession but a way of being in the world.
Below we have outlined our commitment to the community of Bethel in making this project:
We will listen.
- We will maintain a culture of listening first, and we will not impose our views on others.
- We will not make assumptions based on preconceived notions or stereotypes.
- We will remain open to ways of life and expressions of belief that are different from our own.
- We will pay attention to what others value and encourage their interests.
We will ask questions.
- We will engage with the community by asking questions.
- We will be available and willing to answer questions with honesty and integrity.
We will think critically and creatively and act with artfulness, attention, and thoughtfulness.
We will practice empathy, respect, and optimism and honor the complexity and dignity of the community and its people.
We will reject all forms of manipulation, coercion, shaming, and exploitation.
We will conduct ourselves with humility and be aware of our own limits, biases, and blind spots.
We will relinquish control of the project and act as true collaborators with the community we serve.
We will remain accountable for our actions and for upholding this code.