USDAC Platform Prototype Proposal



Standing for Cultural Democracy: The USDAC’s Policy and Action Platform features ten powerful ideas for policies and actions to advance CULTURAL DEMOCRACY grounded in equity and engagement; full CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP, belonging without barrier; and deep respect for the RIGHT TO CULTURE—equity in expression, participation, recognition.

WHY: EVERYTHING HUMAN BEINGS DO IS ROOTED IN AND SUSTAINED BY CULTURE. Culture influences the ways we comprehend and feel about social problems and challenges. Our stories help to shape the world, either nurturing empathy or foreclosing it. Therefore racism is a cultural issue. Homophobia is a cultural issue. Gender bias is a cultural issue. Climate crisis is a cultural issue. The polarization of wealth is a cultural issue.

Cultural policy is the aggregate of values and principles guiding any social entity in matters touching on culture. Cultural policies are most often made by governments, from school boards to legislatures, but also by many private-sector institutions, from corporations to community organizations. Policies provide guideposts for those making decisions and taking actions that intervene in culture or affect cultural life.

To address our challenges, we need to engage new experiences, behaviors, and understandings—to change culture to change the world. We need to cultivate social imagination and empathy, two skills central to the work of artists who work for community and equity. To devise fresh and powerful ways to reconceive social arrangements and institutions, we need creativity and freedom.

YOU CAN SHOW THE WAY. We’re looking for pilot experiments that show how the Platform can be put into action. We’ll select up to ten projects; provide $500 to support execution and documentation; and support with strategic technical assistance throughout. It’s not much money, we know, but it will ignite and inspire possibility:

Your visual and text documentation of selected prototypes will be shared widely through USDAC media, shining a light on your work; and

If your experiment shows real promise, we’ll partner with you via USDAC Lab, collaborating to raise money and attention that can help take the project to scale.

HOW IT WORKS. Design a project to take place beginning no sooner than 1 March 2017 and ending no later than 1 March 2018.

  • Projects must either be existing partnerships between artists/cultural organizations and public agencies (e.g., city councils, planning commissions, schools, recreation agencies, environmental agencies, etc., etc.); or aimed at creating such a partnership through the project;
  • Projects can last a few months or up to 10 month, so long as they are completed and documentation has been submitted by the end of 2017;
  • They must be participatory (i.e., we won’t support an individual to design a poster or write a play); and
  • They must be replicable (i.e., others must be able to create future versions of the project in various locations and at various scales).

To apply, just follow these steps:

  1. Form a partnership—at least one artist or cultural organization and at least public agency.
  2. Design a creative project—any type of pilot or experiment—that tests one of the ideas included in Standing for Cultural Democracy. Download the full document to see many examples.
  3. Use this simple online form to apply for a USDAC Lab Microgrant no later than 8 February 2017.
  4. We’ll notify you If your project is accepted no later than 24 February 2017, and when we receive your signed agreement, send you a check for the first $250.
  5. Execute and document your project with photos, video, and text.
  6. Send us your documentation by the specified deadline and we’ll send you the second $250.
  7. Collaborate with the USDAC in sharing your prototype with the world.