Storytelling Grant Highlights

Courageous Storytelling

We believe that there is a need for compelling stories about who we are, how we should live, and our purpose on this planet. This moment of global transition requires translation. How can we imagine a new world without sharing brilliant stories about what the future could be—how it might taste, smell, sound, and feel? To us, courageous storytelling means:

  • Disrupting our understanding of the status quo, or giving voice to previously unheard narratives.
  • Using visual art, music, drama, film, writing, and creative social media to amplify critical issues and to blend personal with political, emotional with intellectual.

A description of grants we have made this year in Storytelling can be found below. Please read about what we support for more information.

2018 Grants
Arctic Cycle General Support $20,000
The Arctic Cycle uses theatre to foster dialogue about the global climate crisis, create an empowering vision of the future, and inspire people to take action. Operating on the principle that complex problems must be addressed through collaborative efforts, the Arctic Cycle works with artists across disciplines and geographic borders, solicits input from earth and social scientists, and actively seeks community and educational partners. A renewal grant will support the Arctic Cycle’s ongoing initiatives—the Arctic Cycle plays, Artists & Climate Change, Climate Change Theatre Action, and the Incubator—which hold room for reflection and conversation, advocate for inclusion of the arts in global conversations, and provide tools to artists and non-artists alike to engage with climate issues.

Art, Activism, and Democracy Project / National Performance Network Artists/Activists Pilot $75,000
A two-year pilot will support collaboration between artists and activists in support of Democracy and Freedom. The pilot recognizes the important role of artists and activists in social and cultural change. Advocacy using facts does not change opinions. Protests and marches build connection, awareness, and disruption, but they alone cannot create sustained momentum. We have seen policies in support of freedom and democracy overturned. Transformation occurs when our mental models and systems of beliefs are disrupted. Artistic experiences can create space and opportunity for perception and perspective shift. Advocacy, organizing, and policy coupled with artistic expression can serve as a powerful tool for social and cultural change. The pilot will fund five collaborations between artists and activists that focus on the theme of democracy and freedom, convene a community of practice to share learning and evaluate those, and share out the tools and models that best support this kind of collaborative work.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Integrating Art and Science to Solve the World’s Most Intractable Problems: Recruiting and Featuring Artists $20,000
Science and technology are advancing faster than ever, extending life spans and lifting millions out of poverty. At the same time, they raise complicated ethical, social and security questions with very few clear answers. The acceleration is occurring just as societies across the globe are growing skeptical of expertise and the reliability of information. New platforms and partnerships are needed to address very real concerns, and harness today’s advancements to serve the goals of peace and security. To respond, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists seeks to engage those working on topics of nuclear risk, climate change and disruptive technologies, to generate new conversations and reach new audiences. Support from Compton will help the Bulletin to utilize its globally recognized network of leading science and security experts and reach out to leading contemporary artists, designers, and creative communicators to create a more expansive platform and generate innovative ways to address crucial issues of peace and security.

Chicken & Egg General Support $60,000/2 years
Now in the second year of a two-year grant, Chicken & Egg Pictures supports women nonfiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change. Its vision is a world in which female filmmakers, representing a range of experiences and backgrounds, are fully supported to realize their artistic goals, build sustainable careers, and achieve parity in all areas of the film industry. Since 2005, Chicken & Egg has given over $5.2 million in grants and thousands of hours of mentorship to more than 220 film projects. Films supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures have won major awards, pushed creative and social boundaries, and worked side by side with grassroots movements to effect changes in public policies and community practices.

CultureStrike General Support $100,000/2 years
CultureStrike’s work is rooted in the belief that cultural shifts are necessary to build political will for a just society. Artists and cultural leaders inspire their communities to claim a better future, keep hope, feel joy, and inspire action. As society confronts the reality of global patterns of ecological destruction and climate disasters, driven by corporate control and increasingly sanctioned by government policy, CultureStrike brings cultural strategy to address the direct and disproportionate impacts of climate disruption on migrants and communities of color. A two-year grant will support CultureStrike as it strengthens climate justice advocacy by leading with the storytelling of artists from these backgrounds, who can connect with communities at the frontlines of climate change, and lift up diverse narratives of impact, resistance, and resilience to build momentum for public action and policy change.

DIS|INTEGRATION / Women Make Movies General Support $15,000
DIS|INTEGRATION is a silent film and live music concept that documents the perspectives dominating the news headlines of 2017. It is a visceral experience of the news that takes viewers through the three hundred and sixty-five days of headlines from the New York Times that feature Donald Trump. Site-specific original scores will accompany the film, creating space and depth. It will convey the tense, mesmerizing, powerful, sinister, and increasingly addictive nature of news and propaganda in our present day, transforming the singular headlines from isolated events into one of greater magnitude. DIS|INTEGRATION will be performed live before thousands of people in theatrical and cultural environments across the country, creating an inescapable yet cathartic, shared experience.
DocSociety General Support $50,000
DOC SOCIETY (formerly BRITDOC) is a nonprofit founded in 2005 committed to enabling great documentary films and connecting them to audiences globally. Based in London, New York and Amsterdam, the team works with filmmakers and partners all over the world. DOCSOC befriends great filmmakers, supports great films, brokers new partnerships, builds new business models, and shares knowledge and develop audiences globally. Documentaries enrich the lives of individuals and have a unique ability to engage and connect people, transform communities, and improve societies. A renewal grant will support DOCSOC’s continued innovations around impact in the film space.

DocSociety Mothers of Invention $50,000
"Mothers of Invention" is a new podcast from ex-President of Ireland Mary Robinson and her sidekick comedian Maeve Higgins, introducing us to the superhero women around the world who are fighting climate change and winning. In this podcast, produced by DOCSOCIETY, Mary and Maeve will chew over the big issues of climate change, giving audiences the inside track on the corridors of power and introducing us to amazing women all over the world. A renewal grant will support the podcast's efforts to help tell the story of climate change through a climate justice and gender lens, breaking through climate apathy so the international public will support fast and meaningful climate solutions now and in the future. The podcast will launch summer of 2018.

Grist Magazine General Support $150,000/3 years
Our big planetary problems can seem insurmountable. The world keeps warming and the most vulnerable populations continue to bear the brunt of it. Grist sees a better way forward, envisioning a world full of resilient, healthy communities, powered by 100-percent clean energy. To realize this vision, the digital magazine is revamping its focus and talent around three themes: solutions, equity, and empowerment. Grist tells stories that persuade millions of people that a brighter future is possible, reveal what it takes to get there, and empower everyone from activists to policymakers to entrepreneurs to contribute. It has also launched a new initiative to connect emerging leaders, spurring collaborations and sparking change. A three-year general support grant, now in its second year, is supporting Grist to advance this organizational transition and help chart the course to a just, sustainable future.

Harvard Divinity School Terry Tempest Williams, Writer-in-Residence for 2018-2019 $25,000
A renewal grant will support author, conservationist, and activist Terry Tempest Williams during her time as a writer-in-residence for the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) 2018-2019 academic year. In her second year in the role, she will continue to engage with the HDS community by delivering guest lectures, participating in seminars and panel discussions, and having informal conversations with faculty, students, and staff alike. Terry’s work has brought national and international attention to the way in which environmental issues are connected to issues of justice. Her insights, experience as a leader in the environmental movement, and powerful storytelling will enrich the HDS community’s work to connect theological reflection to engaged action.

Just Vision General Support $100,000/2 years
The popular narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian context paints the conflict as intractable. While highlighting ongoing violence and top-down political developments, it disregards the efforts of those who strive to build a future of freedom, dignity and equality. Just Vision lifts up these stories and shines a spotlight on these leaders' power. The team uses storytelling strategies, including film, graphic novels and news media, to change perspectives, shape public conversations and galvanize action. Its overarching goal is to contribute to fostering peace and an end to the occupation by rendering Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders more visible, valued and effective in their efforts. A new two-year grant will help Just Vision to drive attention to compelling local role models in unarmed movement-building and demonstrate to journalists, community leaders and students -- in the US, Israel, Palestine and beyond -- what is possible when leaders at the grassroots choose to act.

Lady Parts Justice League / NEO Philanthropy General Support $40,000
Founded in 2015 by Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, Lady Parts Justice League (LPJL) uses humor and outrage to destigmatize abortion and expose extremist, anti-choice forces working to destroy access to reproductive rights across the country. LPJL fosters a multicultural, multiethnic and gender-fluid team of comedians, writers, producers, activists and volunteers who create content, stage events, and build grassroots support for abortion providers that comes from and speaks to a diversity of life experiences. A renewal grant will support Lady Parts Justice League's work to build cultural support for abortion care and reproductive justice.

Magnum Foundation General Support $150,000/3 years
Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in documentary photography through programs that provide grant funds, mentorship, and innovative training to a network of social justice and human rights-focused photographers working within their own communities around the world. The Magnum Foundation's work is grounded in the belief that images are a powerful tool for engaging new audiences with important issues and ideas. Now in the second year of a three-year grant, Magnum Foundation and its network will continue to experiment with new ways to use images to transform how we see and understand the world.

Magnum Foundation Reframe Climate $15,000
During the 2015 landmark Paris Climate Change Conference, Magnum Foundation (MF) spearheaded an initiative to activate public space. Through wheat-pasting powerful, large-scale photographs around the city, MF brought the climate talks to the streets. Each pasted image included an interactive prompt, which allowed the viewer to hear the story behind the image directly from their phone. In September, Governor Jerry Brown and the city of San Francisco are hosting a Global Climate Action Summit that will bring people together from around the world to showcase climate action and inspire deeper commitments from national governments in support of the Paris Agreement. As a part of the concurrent COAL + ICE festival, Magnum Foundation will expand the #reframeclimate campaign, teaming up with local grassroots organizations and students to spark action on climate change through art and innovation.

Mother Jones Drums of War: a Mother Jones Investigation $40,000
Mother Jones is expanding its team of journalists focused on national security, foreign influence, and the threat of war. Its veteran investigative journalists are alert to the dangers of misinformation, distortion, and fake news that can lead our country into conflict. A renewal grant from Compton will support Mother Jones' reporters, editors, documentary filmmakers, fact-checkers, and online team to find stories no one else covers: the intersection of cybersecurity, intelligence and war; the connections between belligerent rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies; and the interplay of deception, propaganda and military buildup.

Natural History Museum / Not an Alternative General Support $100,000/2 years
The Natural History Museum (NHM) unleashes the power of museums and science centers to expand the public consensus for ecological development, inspire new solutions and leaders, and strengthen community-led efforts to save water, land, and the climate. As both a traveling museum and an institution-transformation project, the NHM builds collaborations with Indigenous water and land protectors, local activist groups, scientists, artists, museums, and educational centers to produce exhibitions, events, storytelling, and online media that address current environmental issues. A new two-year grant will support NHM's efforts to organize museum and science professionals to resist the influence of fossil fuel industries on cultural, public, and political institutions and help them to develop public engagement programs that support environmental justice. NHM is a project of Not an Alternative, a nonprofit arts and activism collective that uses cultural organizing to help build a more sustainable, just society.

PEN America National Mobilization of Writers in Defense of Free Expression $30,000
At a time when free expression and press freedom are under significant threat in the United States, PEN America is working to build a movement of free expression advocates in communities all across the country. Its membership of over 7,000 novelists, journalists, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, literary agents, and engaged readers is uniquely poised to unite writers and their allies in the defense of free expression. A renewal grant will support PEN American to continue national outreach and engagement to its members to identify, develop, and support local leadership to become strong advocates on locally-based free expression and press freedom issues.

Rewire General Support $150,000/3 years
Rewire is a daily online publication that fosters public knowledge and engagement through high-quality, evidence-based news, analysis, commentary, and investigative reporting on issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. Rewire works to disrupt misleading media and political narratives; promote accurate reporting on its core issues across online, print, and broadcast media; and dispel falsehoods and misinformation spread by those who seek political gain from undermining public health and human rights or misrepresenting evidence. An ongoing three-year grant, now in its second year, supports this vitally important resource to the fields of reproductive rights, health, and justice.

Sundance Institute Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program $50,000
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) supports non-fiction filmmakers worldwide in the creation of cinematic documentaries on contemporary issues. Led by Tabitha Jackson, the DFP supports filmmakers year-round through a granting fund, residency Labs, custom Fellowships, and strategic mentorship throughout the process of bringing a documentary to life, from development and production through post-production and audience engagement. A renewal grant will support the DFP as it continues its work through three guiding principles: ART: investing not only in groundbreaking documentary projects but also in artists and the development of their craft; REACH: as a proactive cultivator of artists and their projects, we prioritize under-reported stories and under-represented voices, framing our efforts around discovery, sustainability, and inclusion; and CHANGE: supporting stories with the capacity for creating social and cultural change.

US Department of Arts and Culture / NEO Philanthropy General Support $80,000/2 years
The US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is an action network of artists and cultural workers mobilizing creativity in the service of social and environmental justice. Locally, it supports individuals in leading arts-infused civic dialogues and changemaking initiatives, connecting them to training, resources, and one another. Nationally, it amplifies their impact through large-scale actions and calls for creative response, building momentum for positive social change and democratic cultural policy. With a renewal grant from Compton, the USDAC will continue to train artists and activists to lead culture shift in their communities, and to engage individuals and groups across the US in storytelling that illuminates the state of our union and invites visions of a just and sustainable future. Playfully performing the work of a people-powered department, USDAC harnesses artists’ skills to address the issues of our day, while nourishing the artist in us all.

Grantee Facts

Center for Artistic Activism

Project Name:
Measuring the Impact of Artistic Activism

Amount Granted: