If you would like to learn more about the Acting Together Project, please go to the Acting Together website at: www.actingtogether.org  or http://www.brandeis.edu/ethics/peacebuildingarts/index.html.

If you would like to receive the Peacebuilding and the Arts Now newsletter, please sign up on its website http://sys2.unet.brandeis.edu/bwebforms/view/acttognotify/ or email coexistence@brandeis.edu.

Notes from the Director

Greetings from the Peacebuilding and the Arts Program.

In this issue, we’re  spotlighting folk art and folklore projects as resources for community development and for reconciliation. We have asked Toni Shapiro-Phim, dance ethnologist and a program specialist at Philadelphia Folklore Project, to report on her latest project.  

In the last issue, I briefly mentioned the international roundtable on resilience sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC in Vancouver. The report on “Breathing Life Into the Ashes: Resilience, The Arts and Social Transformation” is now available on-line.

I invite you to join the Acting Together Global Campaign, an initiative of our partner organization ReCAST, Inc to disseminate the new multilingual version of our documentary to groups in communities that speak Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Sinhala, Spanish or Tamil, as well as English. To launch the new resource, and to celebrate the 51st anniversary of UNESCO’s World Theatre Day, we plan to raise the funds to give free copies of Acting Together resources to 51 cultural and educational groups, as well as libraries and peacebuilding organizations. We are seeking groups that can make good use of these resources, but cannot afford to purchase them. If you would like to nominate a group, or join the campaign as a supporter or media partner, please visit the campaign’s website.

All the best,


Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director
Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts

Featured Story

Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change by Toni Shapiro-Phim
On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in a packed West Philadelphia artist/community space, three women, each an accomplished singer and a survivor of the Liberian civil wars, shared their stories and their voices. Fatu Gayflor began by introducing the song, “Kweyengeh.” In the Kpelle language, it’s traditionally sung by women whose daughters have left for the Sande Society, an association for the initiation of girls in Liberia and elsewhere in West Africa. Wondering how her child is faring….. Read more.

Featured Arts and Artists: Keep the tradition alive

Fatu Gayflor: Songs to inspire us and give us courage to go forward.
Gayflor is a renowned singer and recording artist originally from Liberia, now living in New Jersey. She was given the title “Princess” in recognition of her exquisite renditions of songs in most of the languages of Liberia’s sixteen ethnic groups. “Our songs, heard far from home, carry us back with memories, but they also inspire us and give us courage to go forward with our lives. Each traditional song has a long, long history, with complicate meanings…. Each is part of our whole way of being. The songs can add to the world’s understanding of Liberia. I hope that, one day, more local traditional artists will be recognized for what they give all people, as well as what they give their own communities.” 

Look Forward and Carry on the Past: Stories from Philadelphia’s Chinatown
A documentary film by Barry Dornfeld and Deborah Kodish illustrates the strength and complexity of Philadelphia’s only remaining community of color in the city’s center. The film attends to the role of folk arts and community cultural expression in the community’s continuing struggles for respect and survival. Touching on community efforts to stop a stadium from being built in the neighborhood, and on other occasions when the community comes together (including Mid-Autumn Festival and New Year), the documentary attends to the everyday interactions, relationships, and labor—so often overlooked—that build and defend endangered communities. Watch the video.

Jo Radner: Honor the past and delight the present through stories
Jo Radner, folklorist, storyteller, and performance coach, creates and performs personal, family, and folk stories as well as tales about the people and history of western Maine. Her storytelling workshops are designed-to-order for groups of teachers, storytellers, writers, community historians, and children; she also teaches techniques for collecting, archiving, and presenting local folklore and oral history. Watch video

Making it Better: Folk Arts in Pennsylvania Today
This exhibition explores five basic ways that folk artists are "making it better": Shaping Community, Living Creatively in Your World, Practicing Spirituality, Nurturing Well-Being and Health, and Creating Social Change and Awareness.

Read about more Arts in News from the Field on our we

What's Happening

Acting Together on the World Stage received the “Spirit of Place” award!
The documentary, “Acting Together on the World Stage” received the “Spirit of Place” award at the 9th Orlando Latin American Film & Heritage Festival (OLA FEST,) presented by the Awakening/Art & Culture Ola Fest. The "Spirit of Place" Award is an award that was established two years ago for excellence in social realism and activism in the arts. Roberto Varea received the award on behalf of the project.

Bahrain/Brandeis: Ulafa'a Reconciliation Art Project: Recasting Reconciliation through Culture and Arts
April 15-19
With support from the US embassy in Bahrain, a group of Bahraini visual artists will be visiting Brandeis in April, to learn about strengthening relationships across differences through oral history and the arts. They’ll be giving a presentation and showing their artwork. For more information. 

Cynthia Cohen to Receive Medicine Woman Award
June 5, 6:30pm
The Cyclorama, Boston, MA
Medicine Wheel Productions will be honoring Cynthia Cohen with the Medicine Woman Award at their annual Turning the Wheel Fundraiser on June 5, 2013. Dr. Cohen will be honored along with Mark Smith, Ed Merritt, and Shani Dowd. For more details on the event or on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Michael Dowling at mdowling@mwproductions.org.

Read more about News from the Peacebuilding and the Arts.

Opportunities and Resources

Introductory Trainings in Peacebuilding and Performance
Theatre artists David Diamond and Jessica Litwak are conducting training sessions in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Chicago and other cities around the United States; see their schedule.

How to Start a Revolution: Documentary film about Dr. Gene Sharp
This film documents the 2011 Egyptian revolution and shows how Dr. Sharp's writings on nonviolent action contributed to the "Arab Awakening." It is set in Egypt and East Boston, where Dr. Sharp has lived since the late 1960s and operated his Albert Einstein Institute. Watch the trailer

Philadelphia Folklore Project
PFP is committed to paying attention to the experiences and traditions of "ordinary" people. Their focus is to build critical folk cultural knowledge, sustain vital and diverse living cultural heritage in communities in our region, and create equitable processes and practices for nurturing local grassroots arts and humanities. Read the past issues of “Works in Progress” magazine

American Folklore Society
Proposal Deadline for the annual meeting: March 31
The Society's 2013 annual meeting will be held on October 16-19 in Providence, Rhode Island. Presentations are encouraged, but not required, on the meeting's theme: "Cultural Sustainability.” 

Museum of International Folk Art
The mission of the Museum of International Folk Art is to enrich the human spirit by connecting people with the arts, traditions, and cultures of the world. Through its collections, exhibitions, publications, and educational programs, the museum expands perceptions of folk art and encourages dialogue about traditions, cultural identity, community and aesthetics. 

International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts
Since 1970, CIOFF, an NGO of UNESCO, has been working for the safeguarding, promotion and diffusion of traditional culture. 

A Working Guide to the Landscape of Arts for Change: by Betsy Peterson
A collection of writings depicting the wide range of ways the arts make community, civic, and social change.

List of Folk Arts & Folklore Related Organizations
A list of organizations in Folklore and other fields are available on our online Resource Library.

Cultural Survival: Partnering with Indigenous Peoples to Defend their Lands, Languages and Cultures
Cultural Survival works towards a world in which Indigenous Peoples speak their languages, live on their land, control their resources, maintain thriving cultures, and participate in broader society on equal footing with other peoples, by providing advocacy to amplify Indigenous voices around the world. 


Cultivating Folk Arts and Social Change: by Debora Kodish
At the American Folklore Society 2012 annual meeting, Kodish gave the plenary address entitled “Cultivating Folk Arts and Social Chang
e.” Kodish explored the history of Philadelphia Folklore Project of which she is the founder. A passionate discussion gleaned from decades worth of deep community engagement, this short paper is quickly becoming essential reading for anyone engaged in cultural work and community action.

National Native Artists Grant: New England Foundation for the Arts
Grants support teaching, learning, and collaborating of traditional and/or contemporary Native art forms between two Native artists from two different regions. Grants up to $1,500 are available per exchange… Learn more. 

Association of Performing Arts Presenters Seeks Proposals for Projects to Increase Awareness of Muslim Cultures
The Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement program, an initiative of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, is accepting proposals from performing arts presenting organizations based in the United States for projects designed to increase awareness of Muslim cultures. 

Call for Papers – High Stakes: Risk and Performance
Proposal deadline: March 31
About Performance” the Journal of the Department of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney, which focuses on multi-disciplinary performance studies, is seeking proposals for papers for a special upcoming issue titled “High Stakes: Risk and Performance.” The issues aims to explore the risks involved in performance practices, which have often been valued in terms of the ‘safe space’ they provide. Applicants are asked to submit a 200-300 word proposal to both editors Dr. Paul Dwyer and Dr Mary Ann Hunter by March 31.

Franklin Furnace Fund: Call for Artists
Deadline April 1, 2013
Initiated in 1985 with the support of Jerome Foundation, Franklin Furnace has annually awarded grants to emerging artists selected by peer panel review to enable them to prepare major performance art works. Grants range between $2,000 and $10,000 based on the peer review panel allocation of funding received by Franklin Furnace. 

The Artraker Fund
The Artraker Fund awards art that makes a direct positive change in countries that have experienced social upheaval and violent conflict. The Fund was created in 2012 by International Conflict and Security (INCAS) Consulting Ltd. The prize of GBP2500 is awarded to the winning submission in London on International Peace Day (21 September) each year. 

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