We're all for the expansion of this fair city. Where some see outsiders moving in and the terrifying notion of change, we see the opportunity for a rap sesh with a few fresh faces, both "new in town" and "established as hell". One of the most crucial components of a successful city is its inhabitants' ability to grow, and, subsequently, to have an open dialogue about the direction of said growth. And would you believe it? It's almost as if the US Department of Arts and Culture has been reading our dear COLLECTIVE diary, 'cause that's exactly the round table discussion they've conjured up with #DareToImagine: Claiming Our Future In SLC. The event, which takes place Wednesday, October 14th, is an opportunity for folks to gather and discuss the future they want for this salty town of ours. Organizers hope that through a range of activities--storytelling, photography, and a guided walk--attendees can begin "claiming spaces for our voices, our families, and our futures." #DTI is "a part of a national week of action run by the US Department of Arts and Culture", which is "the nation's newest people-powered department, founded on the truth that art and culture are our most powerful and under-tapped resources for social change." You don't need us to tell you that we're in a full round o' applause for that notion 'round these parts. The organization is rattling off a few of our favorite buzzwords, too: "radically-inclusive, useful and sustainable, and vibrantly playful" (yes, yes, and yes please), and they aim to "spark a grassroots, creative change movement, engaging millions in performing and creating a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination." Haven't gotten involved in your community lately? Roll up your sleeves and get some social activism all up in those nail beds. We chatted with USDAC national cabinet member Paul Kuttner to get the lowdown on this local landscape-changing event. Listen up.
How do you fit in to all this? My role in this stems from the fact that I am on the USDAC’s national cabinet, my title is “Minister of Cultural Scholarship.” When the week of action was called, I began reaching out to see if anyone was interested in doing one in SLC.
And we're ever-so-glad you did! Is this event for all residents of Salt Lake, or just those folks on the West Side? Everyone is welcome—they can discuss whatever communities they are a part of.
Will there be more of these events in other neighborhoods? This is the only SLC-based event during this week of action. However, there are hundreds around the country, and the USDAC will be calling for similar national actions in the future—perhaps next time we can get more partners to do multiple events if this one goes well.
Who will be choosing the ideas on which to move forward? Locally, the stories, ideas, and photos collected at DareToImagine will be incorporated into ongoing projects. For example, the story booth at #DareToImagine represents the launch of an ongoing oral history effort called the West Side Storytelling project, run through the Sorenson Unity Center. Claim It! is an ongoing photographic arts project, and the photos taken at the event will become part of that project, which in turn will inform the construction of four art projects in locations around the city. In general, these efforts are not so much about choosing a few ideas and developing campaigns around them. Rather, they’re about collecting and sharing many ideas and diverse voices, in ways that can inspire action and change across the city. At the national level, the USDAC will be going through all the stories, hopes, dreams, and ideas from across the country, and pulling out some recurring themes. These themes will be selected based whether they have broad relevance across communities. They will inform a national policy platform focused on arts and cultural policy, to be pushed forward by the USDAC.
How will the projects be funded? Locally, the groups already have funding. The Civic Arts Studio, for example, is working on cultural development on the West Side, and is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nationally, the USDAC is already developing proposals for how cultural policy can be funded through alternative forms of investment.
Is this an ongoing process or a one time gig? This is a one time project, but by partnering with local groups and integrating their ongoing work into the #DareToImagine, the products created here will continue to have a life locally and nationally.
Is there an example of something like #daretoimagine working in the past? Where has this been successful? The USDAC has been doing similar actions for two years around the country.
Any ideas in particular that you're anticipating? We will be asking the same questions in different ways through each project, and expect a wide diversity of ideas, concerns, hopes, etc. We expect to be surprised!
#DareToImagine: Claiming our Future in SLC | Wednesday, October 14, 1:00pm to 7:00pm | Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 S 900 W