Chris Drew on Wed, 10 May 2000 01:41:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] ART-ACT Notes 19a

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  Check out "Power in Unity" by Linda L. Lanese submitted to ART-ACT at

 and "Natural Colors" by Louis "Sid" Pena at

  Also check out the new addition - "Field Workers" by Carlos Cortez - to
 Screen Print Workshop for Artists at

 The following is a paper presented at the University of Maryland to the
 "Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace" conference presented by The Cyberculture
 Working Group. If you received a previous copy through the CTCNet Arts
 mailing list - use this updated copy for any wider dissemination. It
 our website direction and includes useful links as well as website
 development tips.



 A "Cyber Center" is a website that attracts an audience to itself and to
 growing community through its original content. Its attracts links to
 by helping to sort and present links to many of the related websites of its
 extended community in an entertaining and useful manner. It contributes to
 building community by creating opportunities for discourse and interaction
 similar to the BBS's of the eighties but on a global scale using graphics
 well as text.

 Get Started Building for Diversity

 The World Wide Web is growing from two distinct directions. Major
 corporations (dot.coms) are building empires stressing paid advertising
 while non-profit social groups (dot.orgs) focus on building virtual
 communities of networked sites. The Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center is
 interested in building and sharing a vibrant network of agencies and
 individuals devoted to diversity at home and abroad. We have a vision and
 are stepping toward it using time, volunteers and our art in contrast to
 mad ad rush for position that characterizes the dot.coms' attempts to stake
 out their market shares.

 The World Wide Web follows Bob Dylan's statement "He who is not busy being
 born, is busy dying." Growth, learning, change and action are our
 watchwords. If you are an organization or an individual with an idea for a
 diversity related website - get going on it! Don't wait to plan it all out.
 Learn as you go. Let your growing knowledge of site design and of your site
 needs create the constant change on your website. Be busy being born!

 Be Yourself

 To build a Cyber Center - be real to be different - build your website out
 of who you are.

 The Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center has produced "Art of the T-shirt"
 exhibits in accessible community locations for twelve years. We made it
 for artists to participate asking only that they fill out a simple form and
 bring us their art on a t-shirt. We achieved diversity by encouraging
 artists who applied to exhibit by calling them repeatedly over the years.
 brag about being "Inclusive not Exclusive."

 Our website does not have high tech audio and video or big color image
 of the kind many corporate designers with high-speed connections create. We
 are concerned with communicating with people around the world and know many
 do not have new computers and that telephone connections in most parts of
 the world are expensive. Short download times are important to us.

 ORIGINAL CONTENT: Hook 'em - Bring 'em Back Alive

 All our print promotional materials have been black & white. The cartoon
 t-shirt figures that we have scattered throughout our press releases and
 exhibit brochures make tiny GIF files that download in an eye-blink. We
 them "T-shirt Art Pointers" and we are using these "Pointers" to build a
 visual theme on our website. We are giving them away for non-commercial
 purposes as a hook to create return visits and word of mouth traffic. This
 may well become a saleable product should they become popular.

 Original Community Art

 Eight years ago we built a "Screen Print Workshop for Artists" as a way to
 involve more artists in our exhibits, especially young artists, and to
 produce art prints we could one day sell to support our activities. We
 realized we could not afford to teach artists how to print their full color
 work nor could we promote full color art, so we limited our workshop to
 teaching how to print black & white images. We defined these as images that
 will reproduce easily on a copy machine because we were able to skip an
 expensive step in the screen printing process by using a white paper copy
 expose our photo sensitive screens. We have many designs by a large number
 of artists already on screens and are using these images to build another
 segment of our site that will continually add images over the years. As
 segment adds images and increases its diversity of artists represented, it
 too is becoming a hook that will draw visitors to return to our site.

 Using Community Art to Connect to the World

 ART-ACT, the Anti-Racist T-shirt Art Contest Tour, is an out growth of our
 mission to serve as a multi-cultural arts institution. Like our "Screen
 Print Workshop for Artists" concept, its stresses black & white images
 designed for the t-shirt forum. It extends our tradition of community
 exhibits to the World Wide Web. Over the years because we sought out a
 diverse group of artists - even without announcing an anti-racist theme in
 our Screen Print Workshop for Artists - many artists had already
 images that fit this theme. This made it easy for us to build ART-ACT. It
 gave us the art from our previous seven workshop years to start the contest
 until the contest become known on the Internet. Once this year's contest is
 over we will begin another taking advantage of the publicity we've built
 Our intention is to build an ever growing body of art supporting diversity
 and attacking racism. This is another on-going hook that is unique to us.

 More Hooks

 Another original content hook relates to our community computer lab
 activities. We host a "Website Design and Promotion" SIG. We hope one day
 have an active Computer Arts Lab that stresses website design offering free
 classes to artists who contribute to its maintenance. Our website has a
 "School" segment for articles on designing and promoting a website that can
 grow as our community computer lab grows.


 Under each work of art in our Screen Print Workshop for Artists and our
 ART-ACT segments is a "Comments" section and a very new "Personal Stories
 Racism" section where we invite our visitors to build discussions of
 This has been a slow process but we intend to build these sections over

 ART-ACT Notes

 We have a newsletter, ART-ACT Notes that is sent out every time we have a
 new ART-ACT Submission to announce. This has been about every 2-4 weeks. In
 this newsletter we feature links to the latest art posted, add letters or
 comments received, invite interaction, and I am telling the story of my 22
 year progression toward founding an inner-city art center. ART-ACT Notes
 will grow along with our site.

 Community and Multi-Cultural Art Issues Mailing List

 When we find support or earn enough to build a staff, we will begin a
 mailing list around community arts and multi-cultural issues. This will fit
 with our website segment which
 posts the "Chicago Cultural Plan." The "Chicago Cultural Plan" is a
 created from grass-roots contributions by Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's
 Administration. It was buried after his death by the Daley Administration.
 We unburied it. Its 103 suggested improvements to Chicago's cultural life
 offer many opportunities for discussion around community art and urban
 policy issues. We have added several new suggestions of our own that we
 would like to hear discussed. One question I would like answered is why in
 the richest country in the world artists can work for over a decade
 a track record for an inner-city arts center serving under served
 populations and at-risk youth with creative and needed programs without
 significant support from any direction? This is typical of independent
 community arts groups begun by artists.


 We have a long list of links on a links page. Volunteers from ,
 from , a sub-site of ImpactOnline, and from
 people who visit our page at help_ara.htm support us by visiting related
 websites and sending a personalized letter to the site owner asking for a
 link trade. They write a description of the site they visit which we post
 with its link on our links page.

 Our next project is to sort these links into categories. We will select the
 best sites and post some of these links in the Related Link sections under
 our artwork that the sites seem to loosely relate to. Sites that offer
 solutions to bigotry or suggest actions people can take to counter hate
 make up a page of their own. Under each work of art is also a section for
 links to Related Articles/Essays. In this way we not only will display art
 related to Anti-Racism or Pro-Diversity but also provide informative links
 for further research of related issues.


 To promote your "Cyber Center" website you should already be announcing
 website on your business cards, letterhead, press releases, brochures,
 messages and any other print or traditional communications methods you
 employ. You should discover your "keywords" and create Meta tags for your
 page headers (see ). Register your site with
 Search Engines. Add a signature to the end of e-mails you send out composed
 of your site URL, your e-mail address and a line or two about your site.

 Off-line promotions - An Art Comments Mail Form

 Not everyone is on-line. When we seek to build a community of diversity on
 the Internet we must deal with the reality of the digital divide. We know
 most potential contributing artists and much of our audience is not yet
 on-line. When we asked people to discuss the ART-ACT submissions we have
 posted, we did not receive many responses on-line. So we made an 8.5x11
 off-line mailer form that displays on one side an ART-ACT image and on the
 other side an invitation to write a comment that can be sent to us for
 posting on our website below the artwork pictured. We made up samples of
 this form with 12 different images from our contest and placed them in an
 art exhibit we hung in January at ARC Gallery in Chicago. We included these
 comment fliers in our mailing to 700 artists.

 On April 14th I visited Champaign, Illinois to join with Native American
 groups from around Illinois and beyond to protest the University of
 "mascot", Chief Illiniwek, and testify to their Board of Directors which
 accepting statements regarding their "mascot" on that day. They are still
 accepting written testimony on this issue at I gave out 300
 mailers with the art of Charlene Teters reflecting on the subject of Native
 American "mascots." We could have passed out 3,000 at this event.

 I have included a similar art-mailer in your packet for you to help us
 our discussion. I hope you will express yourself. Naturally, if you would
 like to discuss a different image than the one you receive, you can visit
 our website and e-mail us directly. We also have initiated a new segment
 inviting personal true stories of racism for posting on our site. You will
 find this segment presently empty. You, the public, must fill this void.

 Don't Bury Yourself Online - Live in the Real World

 Actions like those above promote our arts agency and our website, offline
 and on. I recommend you do not confine your actions to your website alone.
 Combine it with actions in real space and you will reach a broader
 At the Building Democracy Conference sponsored by the Center for New
 Community ( which tracks the far right in Illinois the
 was told of a hate group's attempt to create a national action relying on
 the Internet to organize a response. They got twelve organizers to attend.
 We must not make their mistake. Personal contact is still the most
 organizing principle in building a community of diversity. Be human. Thank


 Search Engines
 Free Newletter that is well known.
 Webmasters discuss Search Engine issues.
 Articles on Search Engines.
  Free Newletter with promotion tips - plus much more.
 Free Newletters sorted into categories tech & web help topics.

 Internet Promotion
 Great source for media links and public relations needs.
 ion_and_Documentation/Site_Announcement_and_Promotion/  Lots of Promotion
 sites including many of the above.
 Articles on dealing with the media to promote your website.

 Website Maintenance
 Check your links, HTML, page load time, and spelling.
 Link Popularity - Check out what sites link back to yours.
 Free software to check all the links on your site.
 Test your keywords/find new ones.

 The On-Going Story of Community Art
 (will return in ART-ACT Notes 20)

 Chris Drew
 Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center   We dress Chicago and the
 Internet in t-shirt art.  Come get some! 773/561-7676

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