Art & Social Justice Preconference

The Art & Social Justice Preconference brings together a rich mix of funders, artists, activists, cultural organizers, and social justice advocates, engaging participants in compelling, rigorous, and hope-filled interactive presentations. The program highlights artists and organizers, including youth leaders, from Chicago and across the United States, all working at the intersection of artistic practice, cultural organizing, community advocacy, and social change. The format includes performances and collaborative presentations with opportunities for audience-engaged conversation addressing the most critical social justice issues today, with special attention to work that advances racial justice, immigrant justice, environmental justice, and media justice.


Tim Dorsey, program officer, Open Society Foundations; Judi Jennings, executive director, Kentucky Foundation for Women.

Prelude: The Arts and Social Justice Working Group:
How We Got Here and Where We Are Going

Presented by Judi Jennings; Michelle Coffey, executive director, Lambent Foundation; Claudine K. Brown, director of education, Smithsonian Institution.

Art and Social Justice: The View from Where We Stand Together
In this opening plenary session, leaders working at the intersection of art and social justice will engage in a facilitated conversation addressing the “state of the field” from the multiple perspectives of artists, organizers, grantmakers, and allies.
Moderated by Anasa Troutman, senior fellow, Movement Strategy Center/Art is Change. Presented by Carol Frances Bebelle, executive director & co-founder, Ashé Cultural Arts Center; Asad Jafri, director of arts and culture, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN); Lori Pourier, president, First Peoples Fund.

Kuumba Lynx: A Performance by Chicago Artists
Kuumba Lynx is an arts and education organization working to advance social change by promoting arts & culture as powerful tools for justice. KL is dedicated to preserving and presenting Hip-Hop culture both as an artistic aesthetic and a social justice movement. KL artists and performers believe healthy hearts, minds, and bodies in turn create strong community foundations of love.
Presented by members of Kuumba Lynx and Fire This Time Fund, a giving circle supporting social change projects initiated by local artists, educators, and organizers.

At the Intersections: Approaches to Art for Justice
In each of these Concurrent Breakout Sessions, preconference participants will interact with artists and organizers deeply engaged deeply in key social justice issues at local and national levels. Please note: Each of the four breakout sessions will be repeated so that preconference participants will have the opportunity to participate in two sessions.

Art & Immigrant Justice
Co-presented by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
Organized by Lynn Stern, program officer, Thriving Cultures, Surdna Foundation. Presented by Olmeca, hip hop artist and organizer, A.R.M.A. (Art in Rebellion and Autonomous Movements); Ramon Rivera-Severa, assistant professor of performance studies, Northwestern University; Favianna Rodriguez, artist and online organizer,

Art & Environmental Justice
Co-presented by Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG)
Organized by Carlton Turner, artist and executive director, Alternate ROOTS. Presented by Edgar Arcenaux, artist and executive director, Watts House Project; Carol Frances Bebelle; Kate Larkin, publisher, MotesBooks, cultural activist, Public Outcry.

Art & Indigenous Justice
Co-presented by Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP)
Organized by Jonathon Freeman, program director, Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development. Presented by Walter “Bunky” Echo-Hawk, artist, NVision; Jamaica H. Osorio, activist/poet/musician.

Art & Media Justice
Co-presented by Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media (GFEM) and the Media Democracy Fund (MDF)
Organized by Helen Brunner, director, Media Democracy Fund. Presented by Amalia Deloney, grassroots policy director, Center for Media Justice; Jeanette Lee, program director, Allied Media Projects; Jeff McCarter, founder and executive director, Free Spirit Media; Caron Atlas, director, Arts & Democracy Project.

Closing the Day, Opening the Conference, Honoring the Movement
In this final preconference session, participants will reflect upon the day and celebrate art for justice through the work of local and national artists/performers.

Art & Social Justice Committee
Caron Atlas, Arts and Democracy Project
Consuella Brown, Woods Fund of Chicago
Denise Brown, Leeway Foundation
Michelle Coffey, Lambent Foundation
Tim Dorsey (co-chair) Open Society Foundations
Jonathon Freeman, Seventh Generation Fund
Judi Jennings (co-chair) Kentucky Foundation for Women
Pam Korza, Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts
Justin Laing, The Heinz Endowments
Meg Leary, Irving Harris Foundation
Lori Pourier, First Peoples Fund
Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts
Klare Shaw, Barr Foundation
Lynn Stern, Surdna Foundation
Carlton Turner, Alternate ROOTS