DIY Art Spaces & Politicized Collective Imagination

How is a house show like a social movement? DIY spaces do the proto-political work of organizing all-ages arts infrastructure in the absence of this resource being readily available otherwise. As the administration gears up for cutting social services and funding for sanctuary cities, we need to build infrastructure to support each other. Using Silent Barn’s post-Occupy working group model as a blueprint, this would be a largely tactical workshop on how to activate volunteers, organize according to people’s abilities, navigate technology for info-sharing/collaboration, and stay energized, while also accounting for conflict, burnout, and other points of failure. The hope is for this to be applicable for arts and activist projects alike. In the wake of Ghost Ship, trolls waged war on DIY arts spaces because they think they’re “hotbeds of radicalism and degeneracy”— together, we can prove them right. How can the resourcefulness of DIY communities be channeled to fuel the fight against fascism? How can DIY communities support pre-existing grassroots resistance movements fighting Trump’s agenda? What resources do DIY communities have access to that can be helpful to comrades across social movements / help build coalitions across communities? To continue combatting injustice over the next four years we will need to apply an “all hands on deck” approach in the most literal sense, offering our support wherever possible. DIY communities are well primed on coming together to pool our resources rather than waiting for resources to be handed to us: creating physical autonomous spaces, making our own non-corporate media, feeding our friends and co-organizers, housing folks on tour, etcetera. In this workshop we will quiz ourselves and tap into the resources we already have access to through our networks and communities (beyond just money and donations) and brainstorm ways that the DIY approaches to mutual aid, support and resource sharing can help bolster and support movements beyond underground music culture. How can our communities be accountable for our actions? Over the last several decades we’ve witnessed the role of arts communities incidentally work for their cities as pioneers in speculative real estate practice. Neighborhoods that were once for low-income families and local business have been redeveloped for young professionals and niche markets, and in light of recent tragedies city representatives in Oakland and New York have now established a direct line of communication with local organizers. Moving forward, how do we create platforms that nurture a process in resistance to the colonized imagination? How do we develop sustainable infrastructures outside of municipal funding and non-profit status? How do we ensure that our projects don’t become vehicles for art washing displacement? Don’t come with answers, come with conversation.

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Noah Klein, NM, Liz Pelly