Notes from the Director

Greetings from Peacebuilding and the Arts!

The spring semester at Brandeis was busy!! Highlights include the completion of the first multilingual version of the Acting Together documentary (now available through our partner ReCAST, Inc.); a visit to Notre Dame, where Jane Wilburn Sapp and I presented “My God is a Rock in a Weary Land: Spirituality and the Struggle for Justice in African-American Music” (read more); a visit to the Performance Studies Program at Northwestern University, where Dr. Soyini Madison and her students impressed me with their ethically-informed explorations of performance and activism; and hosting ten young visual artists from Bahrain who inspired the Brandeis community with their creativity and their determination to resist sectarian divisions.

Sadly, because of changes in funding sources, our program is no longer able to support the position of program administrator, deftly filled for nearly three years by Naoe Suzuki. She coordinated events, managed budgets and initiated this e-newsletter. Please join me in thanking her for her many contributions to the program and the field. Moving forward with the e-newsletter, we hope to live up to her standards, but you’ll notice slightly less frequent editions, more guest editors and researchers, and other changes in format.

As I complete these greetings, I am heading off to the Community Arts Lab in Utrecht for a performance research/festival. I’ll send a report in the next edition of Peacebuilding and the Arts Now!

All the best,


Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director

Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts


What's Happening 

Global Campaign Re-Launch!

Our partner ReCAST, Inc. is re-launching the Acting Together Global Campaign, to send the multilingual version of the documentary to 51 educational and cultural organizations working in zones of violent conflict. Why 51? In honor of the 51st anniversary of UNESCO's World Theatre Day. You can join by donating or raising $100 to underwrite the costs of sending a documentary/toolkit package and the multilingual disc for an organization of your choice, or an organization featured on the ReCAST site. In addition, ReCAST will send you a review copy of the documentary, either in the original English or in the multilingual version (with subtitles in Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Sinhala, Spanish and Tamil).

Contributions received to date are allowing us to send Acting Together resources to 11 organizations, including the Ulafa’a Initiative (Bahrain), Wan Smolbag Theatre (Vanuatu), Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani (Peru), Zid Theatre (The Netherlands), University of Jaffna (Sri Lanka), Combatants for Peace (Israel/Palestine). …Read more

Learn more about the campaign!

News From the Field

On Equal Terms:

Women in Skilled Trades 35 Years & Still Organizing

Exhibit by Susan Eisenberg, scholar-in-residence, Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis University

September 22 – October 20

Clemente Soto Velez Centre, New York City

"On Equal Terms" is a touring mixed media art installation created with support from the Berger-Marks Foundation to bring viewers into the experiences of women who work on construction sites. An opening reception celebrating tradeswomen will be held Thursday, September 26, 6:00-8:00 pm…Read more

Egypt's culture 'under attack' from government, claim artists

June 5, 2013 | The Guardian

The Egyptian Centre of the International Theatre Institute (ITI Centre) has been witnessing with increasing alarm the vicious onslaught against the defining foundations of Egyptian culture, with theatre and the performing arts at the forefront. Alaa Abdel-Aziz, appointed Minister of Culture, has fired the head of the Cairo Opera House, the head of the Egyptian General Book Authority, and the head of the Fine Arts Sector within a few weeks. ACall for Action has been issued to support the ITI Centre and to call on Abdel-Aziz to protect rather than condemn the contributions artists have and to refrain from defining “Egyptian culture” in the narrowest terms. The Muslim Brotherhood has issued a relevant statement and a number of leaders globally have signed on to a letter to the media. Learn more orread an article on this issue by Ambassador Cynthia Schneider

Day after Kabul attacks, 10,000 peace balloons by conceptual artist Yazmany Arboleda handed out

May 25, 2013  |

After a day of explosions and gunfire, residents of Kabul woke up to be greeted by a public art project in which volunteers handed out 10,000 neon-pink "peace" balloons. Organised by Yazmany Arboleda, a 31-year-old conceptual artist from the United States, the project was an unusual attempt to bring a dose of creativity and fun to a city wrecked by decades of war. …Read more.

Survival Strategies for Artists in a Modern World

April 26, 2013 | World Policy Institute Arts-Policy Nexus Blog

By Lawrence E. McCullough

Growing numbers of American government and school officials increasingly declare arts unworthy of public money as legion
s of savvy corporate advertisers, and millions of eager consumers and creators, utilize and reference the arts’ “value” continuously in their daily lives. The coming public funding changes will affect not just individual artists but every segment of the arts eco-system, including arts education, institutions, councils, and philanthropy… Read more.

Artist to Watch: Morm Sokly, Cambodian Theater Artist

By Catherine Filloux (Guest Blogger and Acting Together Contributor) |CultureHub

The theater artist Morm Sokly, was born in 1965 in Phnom Penh and began her studies in traditional Khmer theater as well as modern theater, in 1981 at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA). Sokly is the author of the play “The Tooth of Buddha,” written in the traditional Cambodian (Khmer) form of Lakhaon Kamnap, and the play was featured in Khmer Voices Rising: An International Freedom-to-Write Literary Festival at Brown University… Read more and watch the interview video. 

Video: Creative coexistence at Arab-Jewish Theatre

The Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa was created by a partnership between the Al-Saraya Theater, an Arab theater troupe, and The Local Theatre, a Jewish troupe. Together, the two companies work on independent projects as well as collaborative productions in both Hebrew and Arabic, drawing on the performances of Arab and Jewish artists, to increase understanding between people and bind the audiences and the actors in a common, fun experience… View the video (The Arab-Jewish Theatre is featured in Acting Together, Volume 1.)

Peace, Love, and Baklava –

An Exhibition of Contemporary Iranian Artists in London


REORIENT Magazine | by Sarah Zakzouk

The exhibition of contemporary Iranian art titled “Peace, from the Bottom of My Art” of was featured at London’s Opera Gallery from April 25 to May 9, 2013. Sarah Zakzouk shares her experience of the exhibit and discussions with the artists, gallery director, as well as one of the curators Vida Zaim who said, “It wasn’t an exhibition about politics; it was solely … a celebration of art and talent from today’s generation of Iranian artists, and the Iranian people’s interpretation of, and unwavering hope for peace…” Read more.

Read more news from the field.  

Featured Student Papers

Peacebuilding and the Arts – From Bahrain to Boston: Ulafa’a Initiative

comes to Brandeis, by Sarah McCarty

(Reflection Paper, Arts of Building Peace – PAX 250, Brandeis University)

This paper reflects on encounters between Bahraini artists and Brandeis students. McCarty explains that the Ulafa’a Initiative is "a growing project aiming to connect the different communities of Bahrain and promote creative expression during this time of conflict…” Read more and view McCarty's slideshow.

Confinement and Freedom: Possibilities of Prison Arts for the Incarcerated in China, by Lijun Li

(Thesis, MA in Sustainable International Development, Brandeis University)

The paper explores the reality of incarceration and is based on beliefs that art has a transformative power, and that prison arts can… create the conditions for the growth of responsible, compassionate people with the skills and capabilities to live meaningful, productive lives. It provides recommendations for the criminal justice system in China…Read the full paper

A Memory of Arts for Social Change, by Paul Margrave

(Final Paper, Acting Together on the World Stage: Writing and Political Performance – TAPS 1500, Brown University)

This paper responds to the final assignment of Erik Ehn's course. Margrave analyzes how the course will continue to impact his actions and thoughts in the present and the future, using the theatrical reference, "If opening night is a report on the process and if this is the opening night of What Comes Next, then maybe this is a report on a process." …Read more

Read papers by students, artists, and scholars in our online resource library.

Resources & Opportunities

 Call for Submissions: Creative Expressions of Diversity and Peace for the “Managing Diversity in Divided Societies” Conference

Georgetown University

Submission Deadline: November 1, 2013

Conference: January 30-31, 2014

How can the arts be used to engage diversity and enhance societal well-being?  How can they transform potentially divisionary forces of diversity and enrich peace and just relationships? This conference seeks to address this puzzle by bringing together leading researchers, practitioners, and graduate students who are engaging with issues of diversity. View the flyer; visit the conference Facebook page.

Acts of Activism: Human Rights as Radical Performance, by Dr. Soyini Madison (Cambridge University Press: 2010.) Followers of “Acting Together” will be delighted by this exquisitely written ethnography of sub-Saharan activist performances that engage communities in issues of women’s rights, human rights, tradition and modernity, all in the context of extreme poverty. In her epilogue, the author writes that “If we can imagine the power of an idea, a word, an act spinning in a direction and an order – emboldened at each turn by paths of light and indomitable human will – can we re-imagine our world?”

Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI)

2013 Summer Training

August 5-20, 2013

DMZ Peace-Life Valley, Inje, South Korea

The Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) works to strengthen and empower people in Northeast Asia, a region of historical, territorial, military and nuclear tensions, by providing peacebuilding training and building cross-cultural networks. NARPI is hosting its annual Summer Training on August 5-20 at DMZ Peace-Life Valley education center in Inje, South Korea. Read the 2013 Summer Training information package, view the webpage, or apply now.

Department of Public Imagination

A new residency and training program for socially engaged artists

The Design Studio for Social Intervention and Community Labor United are excited to announce a new interdisciplinary residency and training program for socially engaged artists in Boston that aims to build creative partnerships between artists and member-led community groups in the Greater Boston area. The program will select three artists for the 2013-2014 pilot year. Interested applicants can email the program coordinators at, or read more about the opportunity.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics

at The New School of New York

Vera List Center, founded in 1992, is dedicated to serving as a catalyst for the discourse on the role of the arts in society and their relationship to the sociopolitical climate in which they are created. It seeks to achieve this goal by organizing public programs that respond to the pressing social and political issues as they are articulated by the academic community and by visual and performing artists… Learn more.


ArtRage: The Norton Putter Gallery

Based in Syracuse, New York, Artrage is no ordinary gallery. Its vision for change is one that creates a community of open-minded, tolerant individuals with an appreciation for the inclusion of art in everyday life. It offers events and exhibits art that cultivate critical thinking skills; leading to question the power structures that exist in our society and to imagine other ways of life. It accepts submissions of artwork at any time. Download a copy of Artist’s Call.

Read about more opportunities and resources in News from the Field on our website.