Collateral Damage: Anti-Communism & U.S. Cultural Policy

“Collateral Damage” relates the history and impact of anti-communism on U.S. cultural policy. This book-length manuscript was Don Adams’ thesis in earning a second Masters degree, in Political Science, from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in June 2014.

Adams is currently working on a propositional book about U.S. cultural policy. But to end on a positive note, “Collateral Damage” features First Lady Michelle Obama’s address to the Democratic National Convention in 2012 — a suggestion of how the cultural policy of the United States might be described.

Community, Culture and Globalization

CC&G Front CoverCommunity, Culture and Globalization was written and edited by Don Adams and Arlene Goldbard and published by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2002. This anthology features essays on community cultural development theory and practice from twenty-two authors based in fifteen different nations, representing a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds and outlooks, yet united in using their creative talents to educate, mobilize and empower their communities to withstand the homogenizing forces of globalization.

Community, Culture and Globalization has been widely used as a text in training community artists. Click below to download chapter PDFs: you are authorized to use them for educational and other non-commercial purposes:

Seminal Articles in Cultural Policy

Early life experience led Don Adams to pursue and then to discover the internationally important fields of cultural policy and community cultural development practice. As a young man, in 1971, he dedicated his life to introducing this inspiring and illuminating thinking to his American colleagues, whom he also resolved to find.

Much has changed in the world in the intervening four decades. The Eighties saw the atrophy of the vibrant international discourse that characterized the late Sixties, Seventies and early Eighties — primarily due to Hollywood’s ascendancy to power on the sidelines, via Screen Actors’ Guild President Ronald Reagan’s White House. Our 1984 withdrawal from Unesco, dragging along three other Western democracies, effectively chilled the atmosphere of debate in this and other international fora. We re-joined as soon as it was sufficiently defanged, and little of substance has been heard since from these quarters. Over the past quarter-century, the seminal cultural-policy idea of this earlier, vibrant era — cultural democracy — has even been called “the American idea,” because it has been kept alive here — ironic, since the USA (home to the world’s most successful commercial mass media) has historically been its mainly oblivious, but sometimes vengeful, opponent. Adams’ report as the sole invited NGO observateur of Unesco’s most recent World Conference of Cultural Ministers is available online, as are the official resolutions pursuant to that conference.)

Today, little cultural-policy theory is any longer published. The following articles, despite their age, are therefore offered as contributions to a historical record. They were published originally to bring progressive Americans up-to-speed on the prior decade or three of international thought about core cultural questions.

May there come again a time when there is an international ferment in progressive thinking about cultural affairs! When we’re ready, let’s build on what our forebears have already established. Some starting points:

  • What Is Cultural Policy? (rev. 2001) Definitions of the field itself, as well as why caring about cultural policy matters. (The Right already understands this: advocates of democracy need to catch up!)
  • Modes and Means of Cultural Policy-Making: Basic Concepts (rev. 1996) How cultural policy is practically defined, and the various modes of action and instrumentalities that have been used to implement it in nations around the world.
  • Animation: What’s in a Name? (rev. 1996) Introducing the internationally established concept of animation socio-culturelle to American readers, this article lays out the practical work of artist and other cultural workers involved in community cultural development, the primary instrumentality of culturally democratic policy, introduced in the 1960s.
  • New Deal Cultural Programs: Experiments in Cultural Democracy (rev. 1995) The most often-read and -cited piece ever published in Webster’s World of Cultural Democracy, Adams’ 1994 Web site — because this has so far been the most exciting and inspiring example of democratic cultural policy in US history. It was so effective, it brought the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) into being: read why! Then think about the Tea Party, and how to turn the tea-tables…
  • Race and Redemption: Notes for a National Conversation (1994) The fruit of a decade of obsession with perhaps the most important issue in US culture and history: what hope is there for us to overcome the culture of racism? Even after Obama’s been installed in the White House, the challenge remains.

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