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The Arts at the 2006 Conference

Since its inception, NCDD has understood the capacity for the arts to be a powerful catalyst for and component of dialogue. Through the arts, the melody of song can bring comfort, and the rhythmic power of drumming can awaken. Through art, an image or a gesture can bring meaning or elicit feeling that can?’t always be easily expressed in words. Art can bring much-needed humor to devastating issues, provide a new doorway to enter into a conversation about painful topics, and lend the personal and human dimension to large social issues.

At the first NCDD conference in 2002, due in large part to inspirational performances and presentations of artists who attended the conference, the arts emerged as a key area of interest deserving further focus within NCDD. Since then, NCDD has committed to exploring the intersection of arts and dialogue through our own resource development, collaboration with such programs as Animating Democracy at Americans for the Arts, and the continued integration of various art forms within our conferences.

Drumming, singing, spoken word, theatre, the visual arts, music, dance, and film all have the ability to deepen our work in dialogue and deliberation. We invite you to enjoy, engage in, and be inspired by the arts elements of this year?’s conference and to think about how the arts may enhance your dialogue work.

Our sincere thanks to Leah Lamb, Artistic Director of The Performance Initiative, for coordinating the arts component of the 2006 NCDD conference!

Here is an overview of the arts & artists who will inspire us at the 2006 gathering?…

The Maracats

This year we open our conference in the ceremonial tradition of drumming. The Brazilian drumming ensemble Maracats will entice stragglers into the Parc Ballroom with Samba drumming, and plan to perform songs and chants for Elegua, the Ancient African Deity of the Crossroads - the Opener of Dialogue and Communication! The Maracats perform the cultural traditions of Pernambuco, Brazil, known generally as Maracatu. This highly infectious drum/song/dance tradition combines ancient African roots with modern soulful and funky grooves to produce a compelling contemporary mix. Maracatu, while well known throughout Brazil, is virtually unknown in the U.S.

Poets for Global Justice

As San Francisco is an epicenter of "spoken word," two artists of Poets for Global Justice will open our second day together, giving us a sense of place and showcasing the roots of hip hop, where young and old poets alike put words to a rhythm that can be listened to, providing a way for difficult social issues to be voiced. Drew Dellinger is a speaker, writer, teacher and rapper. He is the winner of Common Boundary magazine's national Green Dove Award for innovative work integrating ecology, psychology and spirituality. As a rapper and lyricist he uses music to address issues of cosmology, justice and ecology. Danielle Drake-Burnette is a writer / spoken word artist, the 2003 Oakland Poetry Slam Champion and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing for Poetry at San Francisco State University. Danielle is also the Founder of Creation Cocoon for Girls, an arts education program that teaches girls empowerment through traditional arts.

Unconditional Theatre

Unconditional Theatre (, led by John Warren, will bring to life the themes that emerge as the conference progresses, in the same way they have brought voting ballots to life during past elections for their local community. Unconditional Theatre explores contemporary issues and events through the actual words, stories, and participation of those involved. By conducting interviews, sharing stories, and facilitating dialogue, they involve communities directly in dramatic work that builds understanding and seeks to inspire social change. In addition to presenting documentary performances in community settings, they host Story Swaps, Political Dialogues, and Unconditional Testimonials.

Graphic Recording

Graphic facilitation is the practice of using words and images to create a conceptual map of a conversation. A graphic recorder is the visual, usually silent partner to the traditional, verbal facilitator, drawing a large scale image at the front of the room in real-time. Christine Valenza of Art for Change ( has created large graphic note-taking templates we will use to record themes, key points, and next steps during the workshops, and smaller note-taking templates for the Open Space. And Nancy Margulies and her daughter Mariah Howard of Mindscapes ( will serve as our graphic recorder during the Reflective Panel and Exploring the Trends plenaries on the second day of the conference.

Illegal Art

Throughout the conference, you will have the opportunity to connect and create with artists from Illegal Art (, who are joining us from New York City. Illegal Art is a collaborative of artists whose goal is to create interactive public art to inspire self-reflection, thought and human connection. Each piece is then presented or distributed in a method in which participation is simple and encouraged. Among other things, Illegal Art will allow conference attendees to contribute to their "Suggestion Box" ?– a large cardboard box with a slit on the top where people can submit a suggestion about anything they would like to. Over a three-year period Illegal Art collected hundreds of suggestions in New York City from passersby of every stripe - the young, the old, the filthy rich, the homeless, the mouthy, and the shy - and turned the results into a fascinating book called Suggestion.

Peace Tiles

The International Peace Tiles Project ( envisions a world in which schools and other public places are bound together through the visual arts. Peace Tiles offers an easy to follow, dynamic process to engage people of all ages in the exploration of global issues through art, while building connections around the world. The Peace Tiles booth, an ongoing display and work station in our exhibit area, invites you to work on your own tile throughout the conference. The Peace Tiles Project was founded by Lars Hasselblad Torres, who you may know as a researcher for AmericaSpeaks. The booth will be managed by Nil Sismanyazici Navaie, director of Arts For Global Development, Inc.


Several arts-focused workshops will be offered at the conference as well. Being in San Francisco - the documentary film capitol of the nation, leaders of the Center for Digital Storytelling will share how their narrative storytelling techniques can be tools for social change. Active Voice will demonstrate their technique for empowering organizations to use film to enhance their work. And last but by no means least, you have the opportunity to participate in a highly interactive workshop that addresses the nuts and bolts of integrating the arts into dialogue initiatives, utilizing three projects as case studies to examine practical considerations in employing the arts toward dialogue goals.

? 2003-2006 National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
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