The Arts for Community Transformation (ACT) Stream was a summit meeting of artists, arts consultants, administrators and funding agents using the arts to transform communities, organizations, schools, and families. Their efforts are creatively impacting structures, attitudes, relations and processes for major social issues such as violence, alienation, severe unemployment and the social disruption of catastrophes or illnesses such as AIDS. The ACT Stream provided an interactive research and planning forum to share creativity, identify Community Arts Movement directions for the next ten years, and facilitating the transformation of vision into concrete projects and partnerships.

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Paul Hillman

"How can the arts be used to restore communities and to heal society?

We assert that the arts are, perhaps, the only universal language that we human beings share. Recognizing that, the arts enable any person to understand other individuals in the neighborhood, community, society as well as other cultures and countries. This understanding and mutuality is essential if change, transformation, healing is to begin.

The arts, therefore, can be of value to any individual in any of the seven streams in the ICA conference. We offer these thoughts not only to describe what we did, but as possible tools to be used by anyone here, and as ways in which anyone could collaborate with artists to further the healing of society.

We believe, indeed we know, that:

  • Art creates awe; people who discover shared awe have a power to transform community situations
  • Arts elicit enjoyment - of self, of others, of being part of a social situation - and on this enjoyment can be founded other community-building processes
  • Arts provide "serious fun" - a means of enjoying oneself and other while creating a gift for the community
  • Arts honor local cultures and different perspectives
  • Arts enable diverse communities to work together
  • Arts honor the pride of a culture
  • Arts processes engage every individual's imagination, equally
  • Arts honor the wisdom of the entire community
  • Arts elicit participation - yes, in art-making, but also in social process
  • Arts enable us to express our deepest passions - loves, hopes, fears, celebrations, plans
  • Arts involve individuals deeply and "completely" in community process, while engaging the self in self-exploration
  • Arts are life-transforming - any life. They both transform the way a person understands and values himself or herself, and transform the way a community understands and values that person
  • Arts enable individuals and groups to take risks they did not know they could take
  • Arts that involve the community develop the art form itself, keeping it fresh and important
  • Arts enable the individual or group to clarify their purposes
  • Arts enable a community to remember, articulate, re-connect to its humanity
  • Arts enable people to voice their deepest spirituality
  • Arts provide many ways of seeing that traditional planning processes, educational systems, sometimes don't elicit or tap

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