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And the Creative Movement Award goes to…

The 2011 Creative Movement Awards honored eight amazing people, projects, and organizations for their contributions to inspiring a climate for social change in the U.S.

Insight Arts and Rumble Arts Center partnered together to present the awards at the School of the Art Institute on Dec. 9th, 2011 as a joint fundraiser for their nonprofit endeavors.

[Insight Arts is an organization dedicated to promoting access to progressive arts and culture and Rumble Arts Center is a cultural space that strives to empower individuals and communities through arts education.]

Despite social obstacles, or in fact, because of them, artists and organizations are continuing to produce phenomenal projects. This year’s Creative Movement Awards ceremony was especially energized by the Occupy movement and other efforts at creative resistance.

Van Jones, co-founder of three nonprofits (the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the Color of Change social networking site and Green for All) along with his most recent initiative “Rebuild the Dream,” said it best during his acceptance speech:

“Every year is not a good year for artists. We don’t treat our artists well in this country and yet what we’ve seen is that politics is not reliable for feeding the human spirit. Politics is not reliable for that kind of wisdom, that kind of beauty—that’s what artists are for.”

“I think that’s what we’re seeing now with this explosion, not just of protest, but of expression all around the world. Art that is flowing out of this bright generation is honest, it’s authentic, it’s powerful and I’m not surprised that here in Chicago we can see with Insight Arts and Rumble Arts, a lot of that beauty coming back up.”

Kevin Coval performs at the Creative Movement Awards

Author Kevin Coval, co-founder of Louder than A Bomb and the artistic director of Young Chicago Authors, read from his latest poem “99 Percenter Anthem” Here’s a short excerpt:

“We are wild and lovely and well disciplined

in these streets for now

We the 99 percent are all documentarians

With phones and flip cams

The technology should look like the democracy

So post and post and tell and capture the moments here”

Warehouse Workers for Justice, Gender Just, and The Unemployed Action Center each took to the stage with force to tell the audience about their causes. Warehouse Workers was founded after the 2008 occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors plant forced Bank of America to honor workers benefits. They received an award for their continuing the fight against wage theft and exploitation of the 150,000 warehouse workers in Chicago. Member Robert Hines was not paid his wages after working overtime for Walmart the week before Black Friday last year and he ended up being evicted:

“Some people literally have to work in the factory, in these warehouse that are literally raking us over the coals. I’m tired of not being able to provide for my family and with organizations like you all this is going to stop TODAY, I promise you!”  [audience erupts into clapping and cheers]

Gender JUST, an organization that aims to incorporate racial and economic justice into the fight for LGBTQA rights, and members of the Unemployed Action Center (through Chicago Jobs with Justice) led the audience in a round of thunderous chants:

Unemployed Action Center: WHAT DO WE WANT????     JOBS!!!!!      WHEN DO WE WANT THEM????             NOW!!!!!


Other artists and projects honored included:

Yvonne Welbon, an award-winning filmmaker, who received her M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute and has created films like “Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis@ 100” and “Sisters in Cinema.”

“Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story” a theatrical adaptation of the documentary film which was put on by The Miracle Center, which trains teenagers in performing arts careers through after-school and out-of-school programs.

Silk Road Rising, which creates theater and online videos dedicated to creating a counter narrative to the stereotypes about Middle Eastern, Muslim, and Asian communities in the post-9/11 U.S.

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