Sarah Sophie Flicker: Why the Arts Are Essential to a Strong Resistance Movement Favorite 



Aug 31 2017



Sarah Sophie Flicker, one of the many organizers of the women's march speaks about the importance of Arts and Resistance


Nina Simone once said, “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” Long before I considered myself a real activist—or an organizer—that sentiment was always the most compelling reason for making art. I grew up in the Bay Area, a child of the ’90s—listening to my parent’s favorites, Patti Smith, Alice Coltrane, Malvina Reynolds, Joan Baez, Sweet Honey and The Rock, Tuck & Patti. San Francisco was home to an incredible underground music scene of dominated by women. The Sister Spit tour with Eileen Myles and Michelle Tea was birthed at the dyke café-slash-activist hub the Bearded Lady, for example, and I remember I got to hang out with Exene Cervenka of X and Joan Jett. What they had done was always political.

Back then, people were political, and they had to be—their friends were dying every day from AIDS, and I had so many friends who were touched on some level by the AIDS crisis. I came in on the tail end of Act Up—the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power—and it always struck me how its members and organizers infused their activism with poetry, creativity and humor.

My first success employing the arts as a mode of resistance was with the Citizens Band, which I founded with Jorjee Douglass in 2004, shortly after the invasion of Iraq and the during re-election campaign for George W. Bush. We used old songs, which spoke to what was going on politically when they were written but also spoke to the politics of 2004, to promote the idea that while none of these issues were new, a new approach was certainly needed to fight them.

The Citizens Band made me realize that sometimes we can have a greater effect changing hearts and minds with art than we can on an aggressively political level. The arts establish a different entry point for individuals to get involved.

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