The Cultural Arts (visual, performance, poems, stories, films, music) can be a powerful force in educating and influencing personal, community and institutional actions for a better quality of life for people and the planet.

Cultural Artists can change the world. Picasso’s Guernica (1937) based on the Spanish Civil War captured its atrocities and inhumanity. It has since become one of the most powerful indictments against war, a painting that still feels intensely relevant today. Johnathan Klein of Getty Images says that photographic images do provoke reactions in people and those reactions cause change to happen. TED talk on  Photos That Changed the World. 

According to Richard Florida in his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, economically healthy cities have a flourishing creative economy. His view of “creative workers” includes cultural artists (visual, performance, poems, stories, films, music) and he writes that they contribute greatly to the livability and vibrancy of a local community.


Finding the Sacred Within the Profaned with Artist Nora Naranjo Morse
A pueblo dump near a holy tribal clay pit inspires an artist to honor discarded items in a way that echoes tribal traditions and questions contemporary consumption.

A Movable Musical Village with Artist Delaney Martin
This will make your day and remind you what creativity can do to lift the spirit in hard times. New Orleans artists are using salvaged materials to build mobile houses that are also musical instruments.

Turning the Blues into Green: Mississippi’s Creative Economy
A humble musical form is driving economic development, building civic pride and attracting tourism.

A Suggestion for Conversation Opener

The ecosystem of the arts includes artists themselves, the organizations that help to bring their work before the public, art appreciators, ticket-buyers and other beneficiaries of artworks and arts programming, and donors, government and private institutions that subsidize the cost of doing it all. What role do you play in this ecosystem and for how long have you been doing it?

Is there a painting, performance, song, poem or some other artwork that has moved you regarding a quality of life issue like peace, human rights, economic justice or respect for nature?

Additional Information & Actions Related to the Videos on The Arts

Share and discuss some of the following Ideas for Raising Awareness through the cultural arts for issues related to human rights, respect for nature, economic justice, and a culture of peace:

  • Recycled Fashion Shows:
  • Reverse Garbage Cooperative and M.A.D. (Make a Difference) in Australia artworks, furniture, lighting fixtures and other design products made specifically at least 50% from recycled materials by community members. Holds “Junk Love” competitions where artists are challenged to make works using only recycled goods.
  • Greenpeace Energy (R)evolution Tour in which local residents were challenged to create a 3,000 candle art piece depicting a wind turbine.
  • The exhibition Unframed Landscapes researched our relationship with nature across the full range of current media, including: landscapes painted from train windows, video photography exploring gender and landscape, computer animation researching images of a natural phenomenon on the web, digital snaps expressing the marginality of nature in city life, and physical interventions in the natural environment. The participating artists were Balázs Beöthy, Ivan Bura, Péter Császar, János Fodor, Andrea Huszár, Tibor Iski Kocsis, Csaba Nemes, Ana Opalic and Matko Vekic.
  • There is no single entry point to Ivan Ladislav Galeta’s Art of Living Space. Wherever you begin, you’re immediately immersed in the interconnectedness and complexity of art and life, humans and nature, private and public. At the core of his activities is the questioning of our relationship towards water, plant life and the animal world, and the function of man in the world. ‘There are no hierarchies in nature’, he states. The environmental concept of ecological citizenship, correspondingly, is based on the need for human beings to acknowledge their obligations towards other members of the biotic community and to expand the notion of social rights to include the right to quality of life.”
  • Riverfest for the Brisbane River—visual art projects entitled Out of the River…Imagine…inspired by pollution of the river…plastic bags, plast bottles, breat tags. “350 plastic bags…imagine” brought Brisbane school students together with artist to carry out a project in which 350 plastic gas, the amount cleared out of river each week, were turned into kites flying from the Goodwill bridge and Cultural Forecourt. “700 plastic bottles, imagine”, the amount of bottles cleared each week from the river, were turned into chandeliers and a scultural wall piece. A state school captured the imagination of residents when they launched campaign to collect 1 million bread tages from the river and turn them into unique sculpture spanning Victoria Bridge. Information on Australia’s Art & Sustainability Activities

David Brooks, a conservative writer for the New York Times wrote in his article “When Beauty Strikes” on January 15, 2016 “The humanistic worldview holds that beauty conquers the deadening aspects of routine; it educates the emotions and connects us to the eternal.

By arousing the senses, beauty arouses thought and spirit. A person who has appreciated physical grace may have a finer sense of how to move with graciousness through the tribulations of life. A person who has appreciated the Pietà has a greater capacity for empathy, a more refined sense of the different forms of sadness and a wider awareness of the repertoire of emotions.

John O’Donohue, a modern proponent of this humanistic viewpoint, writes in his book “Beauty: The Invisible Embrace”: “Some of our most wonderful memories are beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. … Without beauty the search for truth, the desire for goodness and the love of order and unity would be sterile exploits. Beauty brings warmth, elegance and grandeur.”

Please Share Your Thoughts.


This is a traditional Christmas favorite in New Orleans A mirliton (locally pronounced mel-a-tawn) is a small, pale green, pear-shaped gourd with a funky little puckered end that resembles a Muppet's grin.  They are more commonly know as chayotes outside of south Louisiana.  Like any squash, they can be fried, baked, sauteed, pickled, creamed or pureed. If you can't find them, substitute yellow crookneck squash, zucchini or eggplant Tasso is a heavily seasoned, cured and smoked ham. If you can't find it, substitute chopped ham or any type of sausage. When stuffed, the subtle sweetness of the mirliton blends well with the delicate flavor of the shrimp and the smokiness of the tasso.

Closing Toast: “Art in its highest form is art that serves and instructs society and human development.” — Harry Belafonte

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Operation Bon Appetit is an initiative of the Cultural Innovations Agency, Inc. (CIA), a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, with the mission to engage ordinary people in sustainability and social change that emphasizes conviviality, arts, conversations and actions. The ethical framework for the CIA recognizes the interconnection of economic justice, human rights, respect for nature and a culture of peace.

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