Dialogues

World Social Forum Teach-In

 




In January 2005, Foundry Artistic Producer, Melanie Joseph attended the 5th World Social Forum, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil (MJ’s American Theatre Article). The WSF, whose motto “Another World Is Possible,” is the largest gathering of civil society in the world, and in history.  It brings together tens of thousands of people from the growing global justice movement to imagine, share, refine alternative economic, political, ecological, and organizing strategies and inform each other about movements and new practices from around the world. The intention is to make space for diverse peoples to think together on a globalized basis about the connection between local and international issues, to make room – in greater depth each year – for newly imagined alternatives to the dominant world model in which capital, instead of people, is the organizing principle of public and private institutions.  
Given the Foundry’s mission, we held this teach-in to begin to explore how (and why) artists might participate in the ways ‘another world’ is being imagined and built in this progressive, global discourse.

 

October 2, 2005:  Ukrainian Hall, NYC

 

Speakers

Suren Moodliar, North American Alliance for Fair Employment

Susie Husted,  Long Island Pine Barrens Society
Suren and Suzie were principal organizers of the Boston Social Forum in the summer of 2004. 

Sondra Youdleman, Community Voices Heard
Sondra is one of the organizers of the upcoming 1st US Social Forum; she has organized events within and delegations to two previous editions of the WSF.

Yvonne Shields, Community Voices Heard
Yvonne was a participant in the 2005 WSF and is involved in the planning of the upcoming US Social Forum.

Stephen Bradley, Community Voices Heard
Stephen has been a participant in two of the five WSFs.

Cynthia Mellon
Cynthia organized and brought a delegation of 100 people from Grassroots Global Justice to the 2004 WSF in Mumbai.

 

…arts and culture were a big part of the BSF [Boston Social Forum] — the arts were not an afterthought… there were screenings of more than 40 films, and performances by over 100 artists. There were some famous artists — Michelle Shocked, Billy Bragg, Jimmy Tingle, Barry Crimmins, John Sayles, Chris Cooper — but most were not famous. I think the BSF formed some new ties between the local art community and the progressive activist community.

Suren Moodliar

… there were 550+ events at the BSF …pretty much all them were hosted by local, national and some international progressive organizations. In other words, we followed the WSF process to provide an open space, that could be organized horizontally. It was definitely hard to find funding … The Service Employees Union gave us some real support, and we were able to get small grants from 4 foundations and wealthy donors, but most of the funding — more than 60% — came from registration and tickets since about 5000 people came.

Susie Husted

What I couldn’t believe [at the 2005 WSF] is how many people really didn’t know there were poor people in the US. I mean I heard this before but… or that we have so many social justice communities here, who’ve been organizing … who are doing the work and getting things done. It was really powerful for us to connect with people from all over this world who are doing this work.

Yvonne Shields  

One of the unforgettable events for me [at the 2005 WSF] was hosted by by @culture, a national artists’ collective from India, where Gilberto Gil — who is currently Brazil’s minister of culture – wouldn’t we love that here — delivered a cheeky, intellectually soulful breakdown of art and citizenship, which for me may be the definitive ‘art is enough’ discourse. We have copies of the translation if anyone would like to read it. In addition to proposing we at last rescue the noun “art” from all modifiers, naming “political” the most dangerous of all, he said: “Art has an intrinsic political dimension affirmed in the relation of its product – the work – to the public, i.e. in the social existence of the work. When it interacts with the public and interferes within the polis, it’s then we have the politics of art.”

Melanie Joseph



Handouts:

THE WSF:  A Cheat Sheet

Gilberto Gil’s Arte e Politica / Art is Political (Translated from the Portugese)

Alisa Solomon’s article about the 2005 WSF in The Nation

Melanie Joseph’s article about the 2005 WSF in American Theatre