Ken Grossinger’s new book, Art Works: How Organizers and Artists are Creating a Better World Together, finds inspiration at the intersection of art and organizing, with examples ranging from George Floyd Square to Central America. Andrew Friedman, Senior Director of Strategy at The Action Lab and Director of the Initiative for Community Power at NYU, talked with him about the book.

Andrew Friedman: I really enjoyed reading the book. It was a great read. I would love to hear what inspired you to write this book.

Ken Grossinger: In terms of my inspiration, I guess there were several. One is, like you and like The Forge audience, I want to win. What we're doing is not sufficient. My personal experience has been in the organizing community for 25 years and in philanthropy for another 10 or so. During the time that I learned how to organize, learned how to think about organizing, art and culture were never a part of what was taught. During the time that I practiced, I never included it. And when I started teaching young organizers how to think about organizing, I never taught it. And then I married an artist and I felt like I missed a pretty important boat.

What I learned is that it wasn't just organizers who did not think strategically about how to use art and culture to advance their work, but it was artists who saw their work as individual forms of expression, sometimes political, sometimes not, but not in the service of social movements.

We had an issue on both sides, even though as my book describes as a long history of doing this kind of work, the scale of collaboration right now is not significant enough to make a difference. I really felt if we don't address the art and cultural components of this, we miss out because social protest can lead to legislative victories and policy victories. But when power changes hands, those victories get rolled back.

And that's in part because we never address the narratives underlying those fights. And the book is an attempt to demonstrate how art and culture does that across different genres and in the context of social movements. It also takes a look at the nature of collaboration between artists and organizers, what the difficulties are so that we can be clear about how to remedy that problem, as well as what works.

Read the full article about organizers and artists by Andrew Friedman at The Forge.