WSW: Imagining Justice Through Arts And Culture

Sep 20, 2017

Artist Sam Welty creates a chalk mural of Heather Heyer during her memorial service Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. Heyer was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally.
Credit Julia Rendleman / The Associated Press

The United States government does not have an agency in charge of arts and culture. But Adam Horowitz says some artists, activists and policy makers started to imagine what one would be like. 

The result is the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. Horowitz says it started as a grassroots organization in 2013, and has grown into an action network of thousands of people across the country. Horowitz who serves as “Chief Instigator” for the organization, which will hold an event in Kalamazoo on Saturday. He says Imagining Justice in Your Community is an opportunity for people in the Kalamazoo area to learn about cultural organizing. It runs from 10:00a.m. until 3:00p.m. Saturday at Transformations Spirituality Center on Gull Road.

Horowitz says he was living in Columbia in 2009 and 2010, and worked with that government’s Ministry of Culture. He says that helped inspire the idea behind the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. He says they have supported local artists, and helped organize “The People’s State of the Union,” an event that allows people to share personal stories around the same time as the President’s State of the Union Address.

While people may be polarized, politically, Horowitz says his group is trying to move from abstract arguments to personal stories that he says are more relatable. Horowitz says many people drawn to the group have “a more liberal leaning politics.” But he says some have found that they have been able to have conversations with people from a very different political viewpoint “and hear each other.”

Horowitz says his group saw a surge in interest after Donald Trump was elected President in November. He says a lot of people wanted to do more. Horowitz says there has also an uptick in interest from people in municipal government about how arts and culture can help improve quality of life.