Growing Dialogue


Welcome to the new DISCUSS forum! In the coming months A Blade of Grass will introduce three separate sections of the forum, each with a different format, to generate conversations that help to define and explore the meaning, value and practice of socially engaged art.

We’re thrilled to roll out the first section here, called Growing Dialogue. In this section you will find quarterly debates on key issues and developments in the field. Moderated discussions will be launched based on a topic related to the annual theme, which is drawn from our grantees’ projects. This year, it’s ACTIVISM.

In October we will introduce the second section, Fertile Ground, which will focus quarterly on in-depth, issues-based studies. Finally, to coincide with the awards of our first Socially Engaged Fellowships in the spring, we will launch Reports from the Field, which will comprise short accounts by participants in the Fellows’s socially engaged projects that describe the experience of being involved from a variety of personal perspectives. These will be posted as we receive them. We invite you to respond to all three sections, and join the conversation!


An artist’s activism is defined here as the effort and intent to enact social change through his/her work. In taking up the topic of Activism, we as an organization are also interested in continuing to develop a critical stance toward our own relationship to power. In what ways can we responsibly acknowledge it? How can we work to mitigate its less positive effects, and maintain transparency in our decision-making?

Why is activism important to socially engaged art?

  • When we think of activism, we think about people who are working together to enact social change. People use radical ideas, collective actions, and creative exchanges as ways to impact the way we think about the world around us, and to inspire us to make a difference.
  • Activism is important to socially engaged art because it is inherent to the principles of this art practice. Socially engaged art is social rather than material – it places emphasis on what is possible when people come together to do something.
  • Socially engaged artists often think about how practical a project can be – they are thinking about the communities they will affect and how the outcome of their projects will make an impact.
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