Friday, March 30, 2012

A Powerful Piece of Advocacy: The Artistic Rebuttal Book Project


Happy almost April! It's officially arts advocacy season, with Arts Advocacy Day in Washington just around the corner. Sadly, I won't be able to make it down to DC this year (even more of a bummer since Alec Baldwin, aka 30 Rock's Jack Donaghy, is giving this year's Nancy Hanks Lecture!). But I'm not going to sit this advocacy season out. Aside from writing to my senators and representatives on the relevant issues (as always), I'm going to submit a rebuttal to the Artistic Rebuttal Book Project. Read on to learn more about this project and how you can submit a rebuttal of your own!

The Artistic Rebuttal Book Project: A Brief History
     In January 2011, artist, arts administrator and arts advocate Amy Scheidegger heard some teens dissing the arts while out and about in Philadelphia, where she lives. In that moment, Scheidegger got fed up and turned her anger into action. That very night, she "built the concept and logistics of asking everyone I had ever known to tell me why they make art." Scheidegger then put out a call for artistically rendered statements asserting the power, impact, and importance of the arts - hence "artistic rebuttal." The ARBP was born. (For more background you can check out the ARTSblog piece I wrote on the ARBP last year.)
     According to Scheidegger, last year the project received 274 artistic rebuttals from 22 states (wowza!). Rebuttals came from the usual suspects (artists, museum and theater workers, writers) and some unusual ones too - ARBP also received submissions from the medical, newspaper, and social work fields, among others. 109 of the rebuttals were from kids. (I think this would be a fabulous project for an art class - and some art classes have taken them on!)
     All rebuttals from the state of Pennsylvania were combined into a book that was presented to PA Senators and Representatives at Arts Advocacy Day last year. In addition, a Kickstarter campaign funded the publishing of Artistic Rebuttal books, which were distributed to key people both within and outside the arts. Founder Amy Scheidegger has also been hitting the lecture circuit, speaking at both Drexel University and Louisiana State University. She was also named a 2011 Philadelphia Creative Connector (for obvious reasons). 

 What does an Artistic Rebuttal look like?
     I love this project because the rebuttals themselves are so powerful- both individually, and as a whole. They spell out everything great about the arts, and the aesthetic adds to that power. The artistic rebuttals themselves are as diverse as their creators, in terms of both visuals and message. If you've read this blog you know there are a myriad reasons to support the arts, from economic and urban planning to those reasons that are harder to express - the soul. Many of these reasons are reflected in the rebuttals. You can view a gallery of all rebuttals at the ARBP website. (And here is one of my favorites.)



What's next for the ARBP?
     So there's your 2011 history of ARBP. What's happening with the Project this year? The success ARBP enjoyed last year has paved the way for an ambitious 2012. Partnerships with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Apiary Magazine, Appalachian State University, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Beaufort County Arts Council in Washington, NC. And ARBP has gone from an idea to a staffed organization - of which Scheidegger is the Director. "By introducing this book to the world, I...charged myself with a task that would ask more of me than I ever asked of myself," she says.


So- it's Friday now. The deadline for to submit a rebuttal this year is Friday, April 6 - a week from today! I guess you know what you're doing over the weekend, right? RIGHT? (If you didn't get that, I'm encouraging you to submit an artistic rebuttal!) I know I'm making one this weekend (note - if you're not artistically inclined, write your thoughts down and take a picture!) Information on how to submit is available at the Artistic Rebuttal Book Project website.

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