To shift culture, we must create and organize culture that replaces the old narratives that have locked young people, people of color, and other marginalized identities out of politics and power in Wisconsin. Cultural organizing strengthens community power in Milwaukee by building and promoting a network of emerging Black and Brown artists who with their stories and voices replace old narratives that lock young people, people of color, and other marginalized identities out of the civic sphere and public imagination. Young creatives are exceptional storytellers who craft art, culture, and stories that naturally engage their communities. Too often, these individuals are tracked only by canvassing, organizing, text-banking, etc. roles when they should instead be given meaningful opportunities in story and message creation and digital distribution. Cultural organizing will catalyze change by politically activating Black and Brown artists in the Midwest, anchoring them in a political home, and investing in their artistry. Empowering them to take on these roles within the context of a political home like Leaders Igniting Transformation presents a new organizing style that can break through to disrupt the status quo narratives centered in Wisconsin’s political and cultural landscape.
Art and culture are a powerful engine for voter engagement. Open mics, soul parties, circles, happy hours, and other creatively curated events are the first step in bringing new voters into the process and showing them that political engagement can be a social and inspiring step towards liberating our communities. To cultivate artists as agents of change we train artists on artist activism, artist career development, cultural strategy, and co-creation and we create community that includes regular meetups and larger convenings. Artists learn what power is and why/how their art is considered powerful and they are given the opportunity to create via paid fellowships, mini-grants, and by being looped into curated narrative projects.
Our aim is to build a network of creatives who are regularly collaborating with issue campaigns and advocacy organizations to engage and mobilize young voters, and to anchor a renewal in their own communities that comes from envisioning and co-creating a future for their cities and states.