Artists and arts advocates release statement following meeting

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"This past May, a group of artists and arts advocates convened at Sunnylands to discuss art and change in today’s world. We talked about our hopes that more people might begin to see artists and their work as central to enriching our culture and bringing about social justice. We discussed how to challenge the notion of the artist as merely an entertainer. We shared our belief that artists deserve a seat at the table when leaders in science, education, law, policy, and other fields convene to look at the challenges facing our world. We decided that we wanted to champion the arts as central to the process of change-making. We drafted a brief that embodied our wishes and views. We hope they might mirror some of your own. This statement is a call to action—an invitation to see the role of art and culture anew in our rapidly changing world."

  • Binta Niambi Brown, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
  • Jeff Chang, Author & Executive Director, Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University
  • Brett Cook, Artist, Educator, & Healer
  • Fernando García Dory, Artist & Cultural Worker;
  • Olga Garay-English, Executive Director, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs;
  • Jeanne van Heeswijk, Artist
  • Rick Lowe, Artist
  • Anne Pasternak, President & Artistic Director, Creative Time
  • Favianna Rodriguez, Artist & Director, CultureStrike
  • Elizabeth Sorensen, Trustee, The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands & Board Member, Creative Time
  • Johan Sorensen, Behavioral Health Specialist


Culture permeates all. It is the ground for all social formations, from the food at our table to our economic and political systems. In a world marked by multiple crises, resulting in isolation and exploitation, each of us has a stake in and a right to create our personal and shared futures. 
In this context the value of the arts goes beyond mere economic terms. It is not only about making things, it is about making things happen. It is not just about production, but about process. Art lives in the world and not just in what claims itself as “the art world.” Against all boxes and labels, art appears everywhere and it defines itself. Creativity has no limits. 
Art has the power to move our imaginations and bodies, transforming the emotional and physical spaces we share. It has the power to build and transform social relations and to bring about equity and justice. Art is not marginal. It is essential to bettering our lives. 
In these times of uncertainty, it is possible to say that we are all artists now, and we all have the creative power to make a better world. We pose this question as an invitation: what if…?

For more information on the Art & Social Change Retreat, click here.

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