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Guidelines for Developing a Manifesto

A manifesto is a declaration of aims and policy.  Often used in a political context, it is also useful to apply to arts and social change work. Many students understand the word manifesto in relation to significant historical stances (such as that of the Communist party). This exercise asks them to articulate and commit to a statement regarding their own work in the arts and social change. It asks the question, "What do you believe?" 

The exercise is one that students are asked to approach at about the midpoint of the term. By this time they have read about and heard from a number of individuals and groups and have a familiarity with a variety of mission statements/manifestos. As a group, they have discussed various mission statements, what they understand about an organization from reading them as well as which aspects of the various statements are personally resonant for them. By this point in the term students are also sufficiently engaged in their internship placement to understand the power of a manifesto as a guide or anchor. Periodically throughout the remainder of the term, I ask that they revisit their manifesto to see if any changes seem appropriate.  Finally, writing a manifesto also often intersects with some of the kinds of writing required in grant proposals.

Prompt for manifesto writing exercises

  1. A manifesto is a declaration of aims and policy.  It asks the question, "What do you believe?"  Read the attached Manifesto formulated by The Bogside Artists, a group of muralists from Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland. 
  2. In point form, outline what you as an individual artist/activist or as a member of a particular arts group believe.  Remember that your task is to narrow your focus to specific objectives related to larger principles.
  3. Form these points into a manifesto that can be shared in class.