APPLICATION DUE. November 20, 2015

Application link:

The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is the nation’s only people-powered department. Organizing on both local and national levels, the USDAC harnesses the power of art and culture to cultivate the empathy and imagination needed to create a more just and vibrant world.

Cultural Agent Logo.jpg

We’re now recruiting a third cohort of up to 18 volunteer Cultural Agents—deeply creative individuals committed to social change—to perform the USDAC at a local level and build capacity for long-term work.  From January to June 2016, Cultural Agents will take part in a series of online learning sessions, acquiring the context and practical skills to deepen local cultural organizing efforts within the context of a national movement for cultural democracy. Agents will host an event as part of a USDAC National Action, lead a local gathering or other cultural action, and ultimately, open up a local Field Office, a local network/chapter for ongoing organizing. This is a volunteer role.


  • Individuals with a demonstrated commitment to art, culture, and social change and who are inspired to take up the USDAC call to action.
  • Artists, organizers, educators, entrepreneurs, administrators, or others dedicated to fostering a creator culture in place of a consumer culture, and willing to volunteer their time.
  • Connected to local creative life and committed to contributing to a national movement around USDAC values, through local organizing.
  • Experienced in and comfortable with group facilitation and organizing.
  • Eager to learn from others doing similar work and to share expertise and experiences.


As a Cultural Agent, you’ll be part of a learning community with dedicated artist/activists from every region and background working in a variety of arts media and with many different issues. It’s a serious and potentially transformative commitment. We encourage applicants to do an honest self-assessment before applying. To build the network and ensure everyone’s success, we ask that Cultural Agents show up in the following ways:

  • Commit to abiding by a simple set of working agreements that create a context of integrity, inclusion, and mutual accountability within the USDAC.
  • From January 2016 to June 2016, show up biweekly for participatory online video calls to learn with and from folks who know cultural policy, community development, social media, grassroots organizing, creativity facilitation, and a host of other skills. Most calls are 90 minutes long, scheduled at the best times possible for the cohort. There is often a short reading or writing assignment for each call.
  • Read USDAC materials: you’ll receive a packet of useful how-tos every step of the way.
  • In January 2016, organize a local story circle—in your own living room or as part of a larger community event—for the USDAC’s People’s State of the Union.
  • In May 2016, host an Imagining (an arts-infused community dialogue focusing on the future of your community in general, or on a specific aspect such as education or environment); or another art-based project or campaign.
  • Take part in sharing updates and reflections about your progress before, during, and after your events.
  • Lay the groundwork for opening a “Field Office”—a local chapter of the USDAC that meets periodically, organizes local projects/campaigns/initiatives, and participates in National Actions. Not every Cultural Agent will open a Field Office—that depends on local will and circumstances—but we ask everyone to consider ongoing impact and capacity-building, rather than focusing only on the short-term.

Benefits for Cultural Agents include:

Watch a short video from the 2014 Imaginings!

  • Interactive training, coalition-building and resource-sharing calls with your fellow Cultural Agents, the USDAC team and Cabinet, and invited special guests.
  • One-on-one advisory calls with experienced organizers and facilitators.
  • A national platform (social media, blog, etc) to share stories from your local cultural organizing.
  • A solidarity network of fellow Cultural Agents from across the country.
  • A modest budget for materials, space, and other expenses.
  • A shipment of USDAC swag (buttons & stickers).
  • An opportunity to serve your community, be a part of something larger, and connect at the ground level with a growing people-powered movement.
Cultural Agents tuning in for a training call.

Cultural Agents tuning in for a training call.


  • Ongoing training/learning opportunities.
  • Amplification via USDAC storytelling platforms.
  • Presence on USDAC webpage.
  • USDAC email account, access to Zoom (video meeting platform), and Action Network (for building and communicating with a local base of supporters).
  • Fiscal sponsorship.
  • Team retreats and micro-grants for local projects (funding permitting).


  • Oct. 30: Applications open
  • Mon. Nov. 2 thru Fri. Nov. 20: Applications open
  • Fri. Nov. 20: Applications due
  • Fri. Dec. 4 thru Fri. Dec. 11: Interviews with finalists
  • Thurs. Dec. 17: Agents announced
  • Fri. Dec. 18 thru Thurs. Jan. 14: Holiday recess, readings
  • Fri. Jan. 15 thru Fri. May 13: Learning sessions
  • Sat. Jan. 23 thru Sun. Jan. 31: People’s State of the Union Story Circles
  • Mon. May 30 thru Tues. June 7: Local initiatives
  • June and beyond: Launch of Field Offices


While we keep each Cultural Agent cohort small to build a close-knit team of peer organizers, the USDAC is an all-hands-on-deck effort. If you are not selected as a Cultural Agent this time or you’re not ready for the full commitment involved, know that there are other important ways of being involved. Check out the volunteer roles available on our Action Squad and stay posted on all opportunities by enlisting as a Citizen Artist. And of course, we invite everyone to take part in our National Actions (for example, see#DareToImagine, the most recent action, and stay tuned for the upcoming 2016 People’s State of the Union).

The USDAC is not a federal agency.
Go to application

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