Community Programs

World Social Forum Delegation

25 Artists at the 2007 WSF


The Foundry, with Ma-Yi Theater and Hip-Hop Theater Festival, organized a national delegation of 25 artists to go to Nairobi, Kenya for the 7th World Social Forum. Sixty-five thousand people from 132 countries hosted 1000+ workshops, panels, roundtables and other events to exchange, propose, debate, reflect on and forge new alliances in the creation of a more democratic and just world. The WSF is the largest assembly of civil society in the world, and in history; it makes space annually for growing progressive, effective, global conversation in which ‘another world’ is being imagined and built.  As artists, we are committed to actively participating in this progressive discourse, and building a newly oriented relevancy for art and artists in the fabric of our future.


January 20-25th:  Nairobi, Kenya


The Delegation

Joi Barrios
Carla Ching
Kia Corthron
David Dower
Savitree Durkee 
Laura Flanders
Kamilah Forbes
Sunder Ganglani
Idris Goodwin
Chinaka Hodge
Melanie Joseph
Bonnie Metzgar
Ralph Pena
Daniel Rech
Reverend Billy
Rebecca Rugg
Katy Savard
Alisa Solomon
Elizabeth Streb
Lloyd Suh
Talvin Wilks
Tracey Scott Wilson
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai
Talvin Wilks, Rebecca Rugg
Ralph Pena & Joi Barrios @ the workshop they hosted
Elizabeth Streb with Kenyan choreographer, James Mweu
Above: Tracy Scott Wilson                    // Right: Carla Ching, Talvin Wilks, Kamilah Forbes

Kia Corthron is dared to dance (which she did).  Her play, A Cool Dip grew out of her WSF experience
The Program (picture the Sunday NYTimes)
Delegates perusing the WSF program for which events to attend.


About The WSF

The World Social Forum, begun in 2001, annually brings together several thousand people from the growing global justice movement who come to exchange, refine and propose alternative systemic practices and strategies, and inform each other about other movements from across the world that are speaking to and alongside their particular issues.  The WSF provides an open space for big ideas and proposals to be imagined and strategized.  The intention is to make it possible for people to think together on a globalized basis about the connection between local and international issues and to make room – in greater depth each year – for the creation of innovative alternatives to the dominant “common sense” of free-market culture or neoliberalism that positions the protection of capital over people.

The Forum is itself a process, whose objective is to allow for horizontal activism, for an ecology of approaches to building “another world” and to make room for a global civil society to emerge as a new political actor, autonomous of political parties or governments.

In addition to the annual global forum, the WSF has prompted the organizing of hundreds of local, regional, national social forums across the world organized under the WSF principles and methodology. The goal of these multiple, simultaneous forums is to decentralize and allow far more people to engage in the open forum atmosphere of the WSF process.  All of the various social forums in this mold include international attendees and are in no way specifically focused on the problems of a single region of country.  The first social forum in the U.S. was The Boston Social Forum in July 2004.  And in July 2007, the very first national US Social Forum will be hosted in Atlanta.   


Report Backs

American Theatre Magazine convened WSF delegates Elizabeth Streb, Lloyd Suh, Talvin Wilks, Tracy Scott Wilson & Melanie Joseph to discuss their experience.  
read full transcript


Wilks: In a way, the idea’s the immersion, the kickoff place, the reconnecting, the convergence, the new idea, the inspiration, and the WSF seems to me to be very open to the idea of “this is the place for possibility.” When it says, “another world is possible,” we are feeding possibility. We’re not controlling it, dictating it, we’re not saying it must happen… and in my mind, that’s what is very different than anything I’ve ever experienced before…

Streb: “I always think that if you’re in a discipline where you’re actually interested in inventing vocabulary — rather than forwarding or interpreting a tradition, or dealing with the 36 stories that seem to exist in the world. And you want to figure out, ‘well, there must be new stories to tell, I can’t believe there’s only 36’…I think part of it has to do with the discovery, allowing yourself to be able to not know, for a long long time, just not know… And that’s correlative to this whole World Social Forum process.

Joseph: what I find radical about this [political approach], why I find a particular relationship between artists and its process, is that it provides the opportunity — ratifies almost — the presence of contemplation, of taking time to process, to come up with new language, to meet people happenstantially, to meander, as Elizabeth would say … that within its Charter of Principles is the protection of itself as a process that invites greater and greater numbers to participate. Some will be movement builders who will use it as an opportunity to build direct action; for some it provides an opening for radical possibility.




Public Dialogue:  April 14, 2007

The Foundry, Ma-yi Theatre and Hip Hop Theatre Festival hosted a dialogue open to the public as a report back to the wider community about the WSF and the place for artists in its ongoing global process.  This event was also held to explore building a delegation of artists to attend the first US Social Forum to held in Atlanta in July.  

Our special guest for the evening was Madhusree Dutta, a Indian filmmaker and theatre director, who was a principal organizer of arts and culture inclusion at the 2004 WSF in Mumbai, which included 8 stages, 3 exhibition halls (5000 sq m), 2 1000-seat cinemas, as well as roving guerilla performances and pop up shows that took over various WSF meeting spaces. The Mumbai Forum was directly responsible for the incredible inclusion of art and artists in the following year’s WSF in Brazil.


“the WSF is no heaven, it is no paradise, it hates artists … at best we are secondary citizens… but it is a kind of space which is very rare. I could argue that artists need to take over this space. … [to] Create ambiance that’s conducive to valuing culture as political statement, to see artwork as an intervention in the current discourses, and to recognize cultural practices as a serious mode of political mobilization –towards achieving visibility and mobilization within the WSF process. Of course the most difficult task was to ignite artists’ interest – it was a measured mobilization within the artists community [2004 WSF in India] – as you all know artists are generally disbelievers- but our final count was just over 3000 artists of different media and dimensions who participated in the shows.

Madhusree Dutta



Film of our WSF delegation: made by Brazilian filmmaker, Felipe Ribeiro