“This is a “let’s do it” guide to action, an accessible and well-illustrated collection of strategies ideal for artists (and non-artists alike) who are willing to put themselves out there for the common good.”Ken Krafchek, Graduate Director, MFA in Community Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art
To mourn the death of a public hero; to link a natural disaster or public tragedy to a political message; to protest the launch of a war.
To boldly articulate a demand; to rebrand a target; to provide a message frame or larger-than-life caption for an action.
To physically shut down something bad (a coal mine, the World Trade Organization), to protect something good (a forest, someone’s home), or to make a symbolic statement, such as encircling a target (the White House).
To express popular dissent; to overcome fear in repressive settings; to draw wide swaths of the population into active participation in civil disobedience.
To expose and disrupt the public relations efforts of the armed and dangerous. Particularly useful at speeches, hearings, meetings, fundraisers and the like.
To translate online outcry into offline action; to make mass public opposition unavoidably visible to a campaign target.
Altering the meaning of a target’s messaging or brand; packaging critical messages as highly contagious media viruses.
To shut things down; to open things up; to pressure a target; to re-imagine what’s possible; to intervene in a system; to empower people; to defend something good; to shine a spotlight on something bad.
To demonstrate the breadth, diversity and power of a movement; to swarm a large target in diverse locations.
Running for public office as a creative prank — not to win the election, but to get attention for a radical critique of policy or to sabotage the campaign of a particularly heinous candidate.
To organize a strong show of physical resistance to an unjust eviction; to force a moral confrontation with a system that operates amorally.
To organize a show of dissent on short notice; to quickly replicate a successful tactic in a dispersed yet coordinated way; to create a shared moment of random kindness and senseless beauty.
Forum theater is a tool for exploring and rehearsing possible actions that people can take to transform their world. It’s often used both in preparation to taking action and in anti-oppression workshops.
To put effective pressure on a corporate or political target by shutting down business as usual; to overcome the challenges of organizing vulnerable workers in isolated sectors.
To create a momentary illusion that exposes injustice through satirical exaggeration, or that demonstrates how another reality is possible.
To embarrass your target; to correct the public record; to expose corporate malfeasance; to reframe an issue.
To foster dialogue and develop action strategies; to create a compelling public image in a direct action.
To bring playfulness to a protest; to soften a tense standoff with police; to ridicule the authorities.
To pose a moral dilemma in the midst of everyday life — this can be particularly useful on a topic that people might normally be “too polite” to bring up, such as poverty, racism or homophobia.
Legislative theater takes Augusto Boal’s interactive forum theater exercises from the stage into the real world – as a tool for proposing and enacting legislative and policy changes at any level of government.
To broadcast a message through collective action; to frame nighttime actions with a key message; to make creative use of overlooked public spaces.
To pressure a corporate or government target with a mass of people in the street telling a unified story.
To undermine your opposition’s narrative by hijacking their event; to draw attention to your side of the story; to capitalize on your target’s media presence; to reframe an issue; to be a jackass.
Does the government or a polluting corporation have hidden documents or secret plans? Liberate them!
To hold public space; to pressure a target; to reclaim or squat property; to defend against “development”; to assert Indigenous sovereignty.
To give a glimpse of the Utopia we’re working for; to show how the world could be; to make such a world feel not just possible, but irresistible.
To create a framework for broad-based direct action conducive to building large, inclusive, diverse and effective movements.
To link disparate locations that seek to have impact on a common issue; to model alternative community; to demonstrate commitment to a cause through endurance; to physically embody a pathway to an alternative.