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Ishtar Lakhani on BBC 100 Women List

Congratulations to the Center for Artistic Activism’s Ishtar Lakhani is included on the BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2020.

Ishtar is an alumni of Center for Artistic Activism programs, and became a collaborator on programs we ran in South Africa like the 2016 AIDS Conference and trainings for artists working on the decriminalization of sex work in South Africa. She currently works on the Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign – a partnership between the Center for Artistic Activism and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. Recently she was profiled in Maverick Citizen.

Congratulations Ishtar!

Unstoppable Voters Panel – Behind the Scenes

What worked? What were some of the strategies used in the projects? What wasn’t captured in the photos and video? You can watch a recording of this panel below.

Highest voter turn out, ever.

You can’t win elections without turning out voters. While there’s work ahead and complex problems to solve, we’re allowing ourselves a moment to linger on this victory.

On Monday November 23rd we held a panel with some of our Unstoppable Voter project leaders. We talked about what worked, some of the strategies used in the projects, and what wasn’t captured in the photos and video.

Missed it? Here’s a video:

Behind the Scenes of Unstoppable Voters

Here’s who joined:

Thanks again to our Unstoppable Voters projects for helping fight voter suppression, overcome pandemic obstacles, and bring some joy to voting.

Here’s a short video that gives you a taste of what we got done:

And we’ve got post-election projects happening now.

Behind the Scenes of Unstoppable Voters
Monday, November 23, 2020 at 6pm EST

Emergency Circus

Emergency Circus is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

Emergency Circus

Bringing circus joy to where it’s needed most. We are taking circus performer clowns across hotly contested Arizona directly to the doors of poll workers and counters to thank them for risking their lives to count the vote. It’s a short socially distanced show for poll workers and their families, often by surprise. Circus-a-grams are completely self-contained, Covid safe, and use humor, skill, and inspiration to lift spirits. Friends, family members, and the poll workers themselves all across Arizona can simply call 1-(NOW)-CIRCUS-1 and have a sweet show filled with magic, music, clowning, and circus tricks delivered to their door free of charge.


Clay Mazing of Emergency Circus

Composed of superhuman circus performers from around the globe, Emergency Circus administers inspirational circus shows and workshops to  the hospitalized, the homeless, the imprisoned, & the under-circused everywhere. 

This non-profit seeks to inspire, entertain, and enliven humanity in peril. Through spectacle, performance and the power of the human spirit, the Emergency Circus are out to achieve the seemingly impossible. To replace fear and grief with laughter and joy, if only for a little while.

Clay Mazing, Emergency Circus Captain: For over 15 years Clay Mazing, the lasso-spinning, comedic vaudevillian, and multi-instrumentalist has performed all over the world from county fairs, to opera houses, to stadiums, to television and film. 

As founder and director of the non-profit humanitarian project called the Emergency Circus, Clay has performed alongside Dr. Patch Adams and with Clowns Without Borders for Syrian refugees in Jordan, occupied Palestinians in the West Bank, hurricane shelters in the US, and hospitalized children all over the world, to name a few. 

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.

Packing and Cracking

Packing and Cracking is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

Packing and Cracking

Do we choose our politicians, or do our politicians choose us? Packing and Cracking is an interactive mapmaking event about gerrymandering: the pervasive practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than the other way around. Through participatory drawing and map-drawing games, Packing and Cracking uses critical cartography, gerrymandering history, and interviews with politicians and reformers today to show how easy and disenfranchising gerrymandering can be and ask what, if anything, we should do about it.

Streaming on North Carolina’s local TV station The People’s Channel October 27-November 3! Learn more.

Created by Rachel Gita Karp and Joseph Amodei


Joseph Amodei is a new media artist, theater designer, activist, and educator. Joseph conceives of art as a powerful epistemic and emotional tool for examining assumed realities. Their work combines innovative technology, extensive research, and hope for alternate futures to invite audiences into a communal process of debriefing and re-learning. Joseph grew up in North Carolina, where they received a BFA in Studio Art from UNC-Chapel Hill. Joseph received their MFA in Video and Media Design from Carnegie Mellon. Currently, they are a professor of Immersive Media at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. (pronouns: they/them)  www.jamodei.com 

Rachel Gita Karp makes rigorously-researched performances about politics and public policy. She has developed and directed new performances through The Drama League, Irondale, Mabou Mines, Ars Nova, Actors Theatre of Louisville, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, The Wild Project, The Brick, The Flea, IRT, Dixon Place, Incubator Arts Project, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Barn Arts, Orchard Project, and Columbia University’s graduate and undergraduate schools. Rachel is currently the Beatrice Terry Resident Director at The Drama League and a Directing Fellow at Clubbed Thumb. She recently received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, where she held fellowships in theater and public policy. www.rachelgitakarp.com 

Unstoppable Voter Projects Throughout the Country Will Bring Art and Entertainment to Voters and Polling Places; Artists Hope to Inspire Others in Their Own Communities

In this contentious election season, many people are wondering how we can move past division and tension to celebrate democracy and our freedom to vote. Artists, in the business of storytelling and culture-making, are working around the country to turn the focus to honoring and encouraging participation in our democratic process. With this in mind, the Center for Artistic Activism created the Unstoppable Voter Project. We funded 11 of the most ambitious, innovative collaborations between artists and civic organizations seeking to increase voter engagement after receiving more than 100 applications. Artistic events will take place nationwide, with a focus on states where voters are facing barriers to the polls.

Seed Evolution

Seed Evolution is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

Seed Evolution

One Bus. Eight Cities. Two Weeks. We will have pop-up screenings and public art activations, from New York to Miami. As we travel throughout a number of cities, we’ll be using our bus as a stage to invite people of all ages and backgrounds to share their stories, hopes, and dreams for the future, while also projecting community pieces onto large cityscapes. We’re bringing attention to global issues, using art as a tool to seed higher consciousness and broadcast unspoken dreams of communities across the US — especially the underrepresented voices. We are offsetting the bus’s carbon footprint by contributing 10% of this campaign to Jaguar Siembra, a non-profit foundation dedicated to preserving Nature & Ancient Wisdom, planting 10,000 trees for Food Forests in the heart of the world, La Sierra Nevada in Colombia. 

Led by Angela del Sol Varelaarski


Seed Evolution is a movement to weave the dreams and visions of humanity.

We seek to transform city streets from a space of passive consumption and transit into a site of creative engagement and community dialogue. 

Angela Del Sol is an activist and creative producer, passionate about the connection between art, culture, and social impact.

Her clients include Frieze Art Fair, The Economist, UN’s Peace Boat US, Summit Series, US Open, Coach, Panorama NYC, VR World, Little Sun Energy, and More.She has fundraised over 100k to deliver solar power and water to communities in need.

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.

Stir the Pot

Stir the Pot is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

Stir the Pot

Stir the Pot is a combination potluck series-civics lesson-activist training that uses the joy of food and cooking as a launchpad to making broader change. Connecting to one another, making collective meaning, and equipping each other with an understanding of their own power through food is the antidote to a chaotic political moment and to nourishing the futures we’d like to live in.

Led by Nadine Nelson and Austin Bryniarski


Photo Credit: Thomas Breen
Photo Credit: Lucy Gellman
Photo Credit: Lucy Gellman

Chef Nadine Nelson, Green Queen of Cuisine, is the eco chef and social entrepreneur of Global Local Gourmet, a roving community supported kitchen. Chef Nadine was born in Toronto, Canada of Jamaican Heritage. She has always loved cooking and her vegetables. She has studied the culinary arts in Paris at the Ritz Escoffier, has a certificate in food styling from the New School and a certificate in fundraising and philanthropy from New York University in New York, and earned a teaching degree from Tufts University in Boston, consequently she brings a worldly perspective to seasonal food.

She is a social activist, cooking instructor, chef, writer, recipe developer/tester, food consultant, experiential epicurean event producer and culinary artist. She is an expert in interactive cuisine and has worked with such clients as Harvard University, The Apollo Theater, the City of New Haven, Boston Office of Conventions and Tourism, The National Park Service, The Food Project, Disney, Bain and Company, Columbia University, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the Tobago Jazz Festival designing and delivering cooking classes, culinary team building, wellness workshops, culinary tours, and epicurean event planning.

Austin Bryniarski is the Chair of the The New Haven Food Policy Council. The New Haven Food Policy Council is a volunteer advisory board for the City of New Haven. The eleven Council members are New Haven residents, appointed by the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen. They are a collaborative group working to address local and regional food issues and the impacts on individuals, communities, businesses, the environment and local government.

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted.

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.

Southwest Organizing Project

SouthWest Organizing Project is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

SouthWest Organizing Project

Anticipating mass confusion, SWOP will create Social Emergency Response Centers (SERCs) in Albuquerque to provide election information, healing, self-care, and protection to local communities. A mural will also be created post-election, reflecting the community’s hopes for the future.


The SouthWest Organizing Project was founded in 1980 by young activists of color to empower our communities in the SouthWest to realize racial and gender equality and social and economic justice.  We seek to redefine power relationships by bringing together the collective action, talents, and resources of the people within our communities.  We work primarily in low-income communities of color to gain community control of our land and resources.

We are a multi-racial, membership organization with a Board of Directors that is elected directly from our membership. We’re intentional about ensuring that the composition of our staff, membership, and Board represent the communities with which we work. SWOP acts as a vehicle for those directly affected by the decisions of governments to have a greater voice in the process.

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.

The Peace Poets

The Peace Poets are an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election.

The Peace Poets

2020 has shown us the work ahead, and as we move forward we need actions that are exciting, celebratory, and keep people motivated and energized for the world we’re building. Without a strategy to activate our partners in this effort, chants turn into drones, and marches turn into slogs. Attending a protest starts to feel like an obligation, people get burned out, and energy fizzles.

A demonstration can truly demonstrate the lively, active, joyful world we want, which includes people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, and fuels our motivation and drive to continue. “Bodies” in a march can become people we walk alongside, fellow voices we sing with, and friends we share.

But how do we do it? First, we retire all the old chants: sorry, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho” has got to go. Next, we replace them with songs for this moment. The Peace Poets have a few to get you started.

How do you get people to sing? Watch the Peace Poets’ Lu Aya share insights he’s gained over the years.

Created by The Peace Poets


Lu Aya
A-B-E
Ram 3
Frankie 4
The Last Emcee
Photo Credits: JayEsPhotography.com

The Peace Poets are family born of Hip Hop, heart, and hope in New York City.  Some have been friends since as early as three years old and over time they have built an artist collective of poets, Hip Hop performers, and educators founded on this friendship and their common love for community and creative expression. Grounded in the power of personal narratives and community, The Peace Poets create and have shared Spoken Word poetry, rap, and Movement Music that responds to social and political crisis in over 40 countries.


6 songs for this moment

We Are the Movement

A freedom love song to us, the movement for liberation. This is a song to GROUND, INSPIRE, AND CONNECT us when we gather online or in the streets to struggle for liberation.  It’s purpose is to express how simple and beautiful it is to be part of taking action for every single human’s liberation.

Stop This Coup

A loud, direct song to call out an attempt at a coup and reaffirm our commitment to resistance. This song is an ENERGIZING AND UNIFYING song to call out any attempt at a coup and declare our commitment to resistance. It can be used early and often to express to media and any observer of our action that we are both peaceful and committed to our cause.  It can also be used when we might feel shaken up or confused, we can sing this to remind ourselves: “we know what to do.” 

A Force More Powerful

A de-escalation  song to honor the strength of our love, reminding us that our love is greater than their fear. It can be used in moments of tension to de-escalate a situation or to re-energize the group with confidence.

Heal the Hate

A bold song to face hate and choose democracy. This song can be used to ENERGIZE AND CLARIFY our vision of our community.  It can be offered in moments of gathering or closing, online or in the streets.

Defenders of Democracy

A hype song to declare our commitment to build real democracy and true justice. This can be used to UNIFY, MOTIVATE, AND EXPRESS RESOLVE.  It can be used as an opening, a transition or a closing. 

Down to the Ground

A deescalation song to signal to protesters that it’s time to sit down. We can use this song when faced with external threats to literally sit down and be grounded in the power our our unity, our connection to the earth and our vision of liberation.

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted.

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.

My Hope, Our Hope

My Hope, Our Hope is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

My Hope, Our Hope

A call to Artists, Teachers, Organizers, Community Members and Leaders, Students, Young and Old in all 50 states! ALL are welcome to participate. My Hope, Our Hope is an invitation to pause and reflect on what matters most to us, and what we hope for – for ourselves, our communities, and this country. We are making and sharing hope flags. Hope is not frivolous. If we are to sustain our work in creating the world we want to see, we need a fierce clarity of vision to orient ourselves. Hope is essential. Our votes will decide who our next leaders will be. We acknowledge the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety about what comes next. As we patiently wait for the election’s outcome, we exercise our freedom of speech by voicing our dreams and hopes on these flags. Our hopes motivate and connect us. Our hopes matter. We lift up our hope flags, together – a nationwide intention for the future of our country.

Organized by Desiree Aspiras


Desiree Aspiras (she/her/hers) is an educator, therapist, and printmaker in San Diego who deeply values how art can transform us and connect us to meaning. Her printmaking and book arts projects have been exhibited in spaces in San Diego, including the Athenaeum Art Center. Prior to becoming a therapist, she was a fundraising professional in arts organizations such as the Orange County Performing Arts Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She earned her Masters in Marital and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego and BA in Political Science from UCLA. She now currently teaches counseling courses to masters level students, provides therapy in a small private practice, and has a family with two young boys.

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.

Cheer the Count!

Cheer the Count! is an Unstoppable Voters Project – a series of Center for Artistic Activism supported works that ensure every vote is counted in the 2020 U.S. election, relieve tension, and build healthy institutions in the aftermath.

Cheer the Count!

Ready? Ok! The Cheer the Count toolkit provides local activists or enthusiasts with tools to cheer on election workers and bring a pep-rally spirit to the process of patience and waiting for votes to be counted. No formal training in cheerleading is necessary: Cheer groups can be formed by activist groups, or by friends, neighbors, families. The toolkit includes instructions on how to get your group together, how to design a uniform with items you already have at home, how to make your own pom poms, simple chants and cheers. Marching bands also welcome.

Created by Margaret McCarthy


Margaret McCarthy is an artist and thirteen-year San Franciscan who creates highly participatory performances that break down boundaries between audience and performer. She was eaten by a dragon and the dragon exploded.

McCarthy holds a B.A. in English and Theater from San Francisco State University. She has been an ensemble member of the San Francisco Neo-Futurists since April 2014, and Co-Artistic Director since January 2017. She was a 2017-2018 Public Imagination Fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Unstoppable voters projects throughout the country relieve tensions and look to the future as every vote is counted

Experts predict that election returns will be slow and chaotic. Artists are preparing by answering critical questions: How can we counter tension, fear and potential violence? How do we inspire resilience and hope to defend the basic tenets of democracy? How do we respond with so many unknown factors?

The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project has gathered a group of artists and culture makers who know how to transform emotions and  support a weary nation through early voting and the transfer of power during a challenging election season. As the nation awaits election results and their aftermath, projects will help folks relieve tension on the streets, at counting sites and in their homes, with Counting Cheerleaders, the creation of Social Emergency Response Centers, of-the-moment songs created and distributed by the Peace Poets, and continued performances by Emergency Circus and dancing mailboxes Delivering Democracy, among other projects.