CultureStrike’s approach grows out of a deep history of artistic leadership within and alongside social movements, from the Mexican mural tradition to the art of the Black Panther newspapers, to ACT UP's street theater and beyond. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we want to intentionally up the game by investing in the power of art as a movement in and of itself. For us, this rich legacy proves that art doesn't just make politics look prettier; with the right resources, art allows us to explore the root causes of problems and experiment with creative solutions without apology or baggage. We believe in the creative leadership of artists as agents of social change, creatives who think differently than advocates.
What's makes our work unique is that we intentionally bring together various strands of cultural and political organizing in order to build shared strategy with creativity at the center. As an organization, we can be described in many ways—we're part lab, activist studio, publisher, think tank, and network—but we're not creative consultants for a political movement. Instead, our role is to demonstrate that organizing itself can—and must—adapt to be more creative, daring, and passionate. Even the slickest campaign can’t compete with a poet’s turn-of-phrase, that song stuck in your head, or the power of dancing together in the street. That’s why we believe that movements have more potential when they move away from short-term policy battles, and instead nurture imaginative and expressive engagement that plants the seeds of sustainable change and collective action.
Our work falls into four overlapping program areas:
- An Artist Network that supports and connects artists with opportunities to develop their own work and political power.
- A Knowledge Lab that through research and workshops demonstrates why culture indeed matters.
- Literary projects such as CultureStrike Magazine and UndocuWriting that publish and support original works of fiction, journalism, and poetry.
- Cultural Projects & Events, ranging from visual campaigns like Migration Is Beautiful to multi-media festivals like UndocuNation that bring people together for moments of profound transformation.
As a network led by migrant artists—and driven by our experiences as women, people of color, queer, trans, working-class, and undocumented people—CultureStrike aims not only to change the art of politics, but also the politics of art-making. The art world (like media and politics) is still dominated by white men, and countless talented artists, writers, and performers don't receive institutional support, have trouble building community, and aren't given credit for the impact of their work. By offering historically marginalized artists increased opportunities and valuing their work, we disrupt the status quo of the art world and ensure that new voices yield new stories as well as innovative ways of working.