WHAT NOW? Towards Artist-Led Movements, was a regionally-focused, 3-day hybrid gathering in Seattle, WA and online from September 30 – October 2, 2022. This gathering, designed by a Seattle team of artists and organizers in partnership with Common Field, was organized to strengthen creative ecosystems by building collective power and mutual awareness towards activating shared visions and strategies to transform structural inequities. Programming included peer-to-peer workshops, collaborative arts network mapping, facilitated conversations on conflict and care, social events to celebrate together and showcase local talent, and other embodied practices to bring us into contact and solidarity with one another. Together, the sessions and events that made up this gathering sought to harness the momentum of existing work, and the potential to be grown from within decentralized, artist-driven movements that will continue to unfold after the event.

A combination of virtual and in-person sessions—including sessions taking place in-person and streamed online, and sessions taking place online projected into the venue—brought local and national voices together across regions to share the work that is working, and to dream the models for our futures. Below, we invite you to explore archival audio from the sessions listed. This audio is also available as a podcast.

Photos by Leo Carmona

WHAT NOW? Gathering Programs

Friday, September 30, 2022
Welcome Event

Yingzhao Liu, Ken Workman, Vee Hua 華婷婷, Julie Chang Shulman, Elisheba Johnson, Kristel Baldoz, E. Maude Haak-Frendscho, Sheetal Prajapati, and Chris Tyler

The weekend-long gathering, beginning in the afternoon of Friday, Sep 30, opened with a Welcome Program that framed themes of network organizing, introduced partners, and oriented attendees to on-site and virtual gathering spaces alike. Ken Workman, Council Member of the Duwamish Tribe and Descendant of Chief Seattle, opened the gathering with a welcome and land acknowledgement. Designer and strategist Yingzhao Liu shared principles of network organizing, grounding the event in how and why we come together.


Connection through Introspection and Reflection

Olisa Enrico

Olisa Enrico, a Seattle-based performing artist and arts educator, facilitated an interactive getting-to-know-you session for the participants in an online session to build trust and a foundation for the collaborative work to follow. Olisa asked: How do we know where we are going? We must first know where and who we are. We spent time connecting through place based memory and desire. We shared our memories, our present realities and future vision for arts, activism, and cultural engagement. Using theater, movement and writing, we explored individually and collectively with a goal of creating and strengthening connections.

Saturday, October 1, 2022
Network Mapping

Tony Patrick, Daniel Sharp

Saturday’s program kicked off with a Network Mapping workshop facilitated by Tony Patrick and Daniel Sharp, an online participatory event to excavate our shared ecosystem, articulate pre-existing and intangible resources—including each other—and identify aspirations for continued collaboration and relationships post-event.


Creativity Regenerates

Mari Shibuya

Creativity Regenerates was a facilitated multimedia experience using the arts to collaboratively explore vital futures for our communities. In the face of pandemic recovery, climate catastrophe, and increasing socioeconomic pressures, we came together to hold these realities and how they are manifesting in our lives and communities, while engaging in the courageous activity of visioning and embodying alternative realities in which we collectively thrive. Using somatic practices, visual reflection, playful collaboration, and poetic synthesis, Creativity Regenerates offered the opportunity to reflect internally and weave these reflections externally into collaborative cultural artifacts that represent a roadmap of where we collectively are and want to go.

Beyond Corporations and Nonprofits: What is an Artist-Led Economy?

Julie Chang Schulman, Stella J. Brown, Njuguna Gishuru, and Amy L. Piñon

This online conversation was centered on arts entrepreneurship and growing ecosystems of support towards a more human-centered creative economy, asking: How can artists not only survive but thrive while still seeking to transform existing systems? What are some common pitfalls and barriers to collective abundance under capitalism, and how can we better collaborate to mutually uplift others? Seattle filmmaker and creator of “AND OTHER OPPRESSIVE DYNAMICS” Amy L. Piñon, Stella J. Brown of Chicago’s Buddy, Njuguna Gishuru of People’s Economy Lab, and Julie Chang Schulman of Seattle Artists Coalition for Equitable Development and Forever Safe Spaces came together in this conversation.


Hot Seat Sessions & Cyphers

Naudia Miller aka “Just Call Me Nas”

Hot Seat Sessions & Cyphers was an invitation to attendees to share about their organizations or projects, recite a poem, share a quick burst of art, or whatever else they wanted to do in  three minutes of anything-goes presentations in front of the whole audience.


Sunday, October 2, 2022
Creative Workforce Development

Vee Hua 華婷婷, Imani Sims, Jac Smith, Reese Tanimura, Carol Zou

A conversation on Creative Workforce Development brought together national voices including the US Department of Arts & Culture’s Carol Zou, organizer of the People’s WPA project, with Seattle-based organizers: Imani Sims of Hope Corps, Jac Smith of The Hydrant, Friends of the Waterfront, and Blue Cone Studios; Reese Tanimura of Northwest Folklife. Together they discussed sustainable pathways and support systems for creative careers, moderated by Vee Hua 華婷婷.


Beyond Self Care: Community Care For Our Collective Liberation

Shelagh Brown, Veronica Johanson-Faison, Nyasha Sarju, LéTania Severe

Shelagh Brown, Community Partnerships Director at Seattle’s Creative Justice, facilitated an in-person conversation on how care for community is care for self, spotlighting voices on the frontlines of collective care and mutual aid including Veronica Johanson-Faison of Creative Justice, Nyasha Sarju, and LéTania Severe.


The Art of Conflict

Anjel Newmann, Janay Pina

The Art of Conflict was an online program led by Anjel Newmann, Co-Executive Director, and Janay Pina, Youth Director of AS220, a community arts organization in Providence, RI. Movements for Justice are not free from conflict. Competing priorities, a difference in values, scarce resources and unacknowledged power are among the many factors that can give life to new and challenging dynamics within and between “like-minded” social change groups. While there is no single answer for navigating complex and layered tensions between people who are overworked, underpaid, and bumping up against systemic barriers, the power of design, rooted in antiracist principles and “ways of being,” can make an incredible difference in the long term health and relationships within community organizations and/or movement spaces. Anjel and Janay invited attendees to learn more about what they’ve encountered and learned during their tenure at one of AS220’s largest programs: AS220 Youth.


The Art of Gathering: What’s the Future of Festivals?

Renata Bryant, Kelli Faryar, Carolyn Hitt, Roger Maldonado, Julie Chang Shulman

With a diversity of new festivals popping up, often curated by and centering historically underserved communities, what lessons can be passed on from seasoned festivals with institutional knowledge to share? As large, corporate festivals seem to increasingly grow away from their modest roots, what role do smaller festivals play in helping support artistic ecosystems? Guided by these questions, this in-person conversation moderated by Julie Chang Schulman, included Kelli Faryar of Waterfront Park Seattle, Carolyn Hitt of On the Block, and Cesar Maldonado of Mediums Collective, and Renata Bryant of Taking B(l)ack Pride.


Common Field Farewell & Sunset Social Jam

Jackie Clay, Sarah Williams, Sheetal Prajapati, Mars Avila, Josh Nucci

WHAT NOW? concluded on Sunday evening with a Common Field Farewell, a celebration marking the organization’s life and work that invited both online and in-person participants to share their wishes and aspirations for the field, which was followed by a Sunset Social Jam to hang out and close the weekend while listening to the music of Josh Nucci and fellow musicians.