Forging Change: Arts & Artists

Go Lean Commentary

Hell on Earth.

cu-blog-forging-change-arts-and-artists-photo-3There are a few destinations that can be assigned that designation right now; the country of South Sudan is perhaps one of the most prominent. (Other candidates include ISIS-controlled Syria and the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean member-state of Haiti).

So what’s happening in South Sudan?

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in July 2011. But in December 2013, fighting between rebel militia and the government escalated into a civil war.

With several thousand killed and over a million people displaced by violence, South Sudan is facing a looming famine and is at high risk of genocide and mass atrocities. – United to End Genocide

How to forge change in an environment like South Sudan? Ouch!

Will it be a military solution, diplomatic, humanitarian, religious campaign? So many approaches and yet the failures persist.

This is heavy-lifting! One approach being considered is through the arts.

This commentary is part 1 of 3 in a series on the power of the visual arts. The series depicts how the arts can forge change in a community, where it can be an effective messaging tool to convey many important points. Africa needs this power; so too the Caribbean. Both regions need the type of transformation that can come from the power of the arts. The full entries in the series are as follows:

  1.  Forging Change: Arts & Artists
  2.  ENCORE: Art Basel 2016 – A Testament to the Business of the Arts
  3.  Art Walk – Its a Real Thing in Wynwood

Consider the details of the effort in South Sudan in the VIDEO and news story here:

VIDEO – South Sudanese artists call for end to violence through art –

Published on Mar 15, 2016 – South Sudanese artists are calling for an end to violence in the world’s youngest nation, through works of art. Painters, designers and poets have been holding an exhibition in Juba aiming to remind leaders of South Sudan of the suffering in the country. The artists also call on their leaders to empower women and young people in society and ensure their active participation in the peace process.



Title: South Sudan Artists Protest Civil War With Peace Campaign
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN — Musicians played lively tunes in South Sudan’s capital, and pedestrians and market shoppers watched the impromptu concert with curiosity. A soldier in desert camouflage walked around, surveying the scene.

As the drumming grew more insistent, the audience stood silent and motionless seemingly afraid to join the fun. Then the soldier started to breakdance.

That broke the ice and women swayed to the beat. Soon children and adults were dancing, enjoying a rare respite from South Sudan’s festering conflict.

For many in South Sudan, the arts have become a rare haven of peace in a young country that has known little but civil war. A group of artists are campaigning for peace, with pop-up street performances and murals across the capital, Juba. The activists have taken the name Ana Taban, or “I am tired,” in Arabic.

“We are tired of this, the constant fear, the war,” said Manas Mathiang, 32, a musician and artist who leads the movement.

Recently Mathiang met with nearly 30 artists who are part of Ana Taban. Members come from many of South Sudan’s main tribes. They say ethnicity has never been an issue, and they invite other artists “regardless of where they come from.”

The group has painted vibrant murals in Juba like one near the airport, a sky-blue wall depicting athletes, religious leaders and doctors under the slogan “Let us all do our part.” The artists also stage skits in street markets to promote reconciliation.

Ana Taban was started after fighting in Juba killed hundreds of people in July. A group of South Sudanese artists who had taken refuge in Kenya came together to create the movement. When it was safe to return to the capital, they brought home the campaign for peace.

Transcending tribe and politics, the artists use their work to try to unify South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, which won independence from Sudan in 2011. But then civil war broke out two years later, and tens of thousands have been killed amid concerns of ethnic violence.

A longing for an end to the fighting can be found in the country’s art and music. Some of the most popular songs on the radio are reggae because their lyrics of peace can be easily understood, said a local DJ, Daniel Danis.

Another member of Ana Taban, Deng Forbes, proudly held up his favorite work, a drawing of a child crying in the shape of a map of South Sudan.

“My people are diverse, 64 tribes,” Forbes said. “Art is a universal language, it’s a simple language.”

In some ways, South Sudan’s arts scene is like that in other countries, clustered in an offbeat section of the capital. Good equipment is rare. Artists say it is difficult to make money from their work. Feuds are common.

But much of South Sudan’s art is focused on the country’s political tensions.

Lual D’Awol, a popular rapper who appeared in an Ana Taban music video, said his songs about the lack of electricity and running water are banned from the radio by the government.

“It’s telling the truth that citizens of South Sudan feel, and I feel like I have to paint that picture and give a message that is genuinely happening,” D’Awol said.

Elsewhere in the capital, a nighttime concert a few weeks ago brought a rare feeling of ease. On a soccer field, roughly 1,000 South Sudanese danced and sang into the night, some climbing onto brick barriers for a better view.

On a makeshift stage, young women danced with men wearing the colors of South Sudan’s flag, members of the dancing troupe Sonzwgi, which roughly translates to “storytelling.”

The dance is a mashup of elements from different tribes across the country, said the group’s leader, Emmanuel Aban, saying it was choreographed to foster togetherness.

As Sonzwgi performed, women ran to the stage and danced, and men laughed freely. Aban smiled, saying: “It’s a way to send a message to the people.”
Source: Associated Press / Voice of America Posted November 25, 2016; retrieved 12-01-2016 from:

This commentary – from the publishers of the book Go Lean … Caribbean – is NOT trying to forge change in South Sudan, nor Africa for that matter; (though we would be elated to see peace there). This commentary is trying to forge change in the Caribbean.

We have Failed and Failing-States too!

How will we forge this change? How will we transform our society? Perhaps that same “arts &  artists” approach can work here. Accordingly …

“… the transformative power of art” – see VIDEO in Appendix B below.

The challenges and strategies for forging change have been identified in a series of previous Go Lean blog-commentaries over the past 2 years, this is the eighth submission. These were presented as follows, in reverse chronological order:

  1.    Forging Change – Arts & Artists (Today)
  2.    Forging Change – Panem et Circenses (November 15, 2016)
  3.    Forging Change – Herd Mentality (October 11, 2016)
  4.    Forging Change – ‘Something To Lose’ (November 18, 2015)
  5.    Forging Change – ‘Food’ for Thought (April 29, 2015)
  6.    Forging Change – Music Moves People (December 30, 2014)
  7.    Forging Change – The Sales Process (December 22, 2014)
  8.    Forging Change – The Fun Theory (September 9, 2014)

This commentary is urging Caribbean stakeholders to allow the production of artists and their art to work on society. (Artists should be identified early and their development fostered up to adulthood). While the actual participants may only be a handful of artists, those with genius qualifiers in the arts, the impact can be great on the whole community. This is an expression of the Greater Good. This is defined in the Go Lean book (Page 37) by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832, a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer) as …

… “the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong”.

While music is an art form, it is not the consideration in this commentary. Rather the focus  is on the visual arts. Think murals and graffiti, rather make that commissioned street art. These visual expressions can depict imagery and tales – fact or fiction. At times the fiction may just be portraying the ideal … the preferred landscape that would benefit the people. Artists often “use fiction to tell the truth”; see this point portrayed in the VIDEO in Appendix C. This is “art imitating life”!

The mechanics of “arts & artists” being used as a Change-Agent are already in place; there is an eco-system for the arts in the Caribbean, other than music or festivals, it is downplayed and subliminal, but there nonetheless.  The quest in the Go Lean roadmap is to do more than just subliminal. This was detailed as an advocacy in the book (Page 230) as:

10 Ways to Improve the Arts

That advocacy detailed the Business Model of Art Galleries, as follows here:

A contemporary art gallery, where contemporary art is shown for exhibition and/or for sale, is commercial or privately funded and usually has a second-tier status positioned between the first-tier status of a national, state-run or corporate museum, and the third-tier of minor galleries which include artist-run galleries, retail galleries, and artist’s co-operatives.

Commercial galleries are for-profit, privately owned businesses dealing in artworks by contemporary artists. Galleries run for the public good by cities, churches, art collectives, not-for-profit organizations, and local or national governments are usually termed Non-Profit Galleries. Many of these are arranged around a Trust or estate. Lastly, galleries run directly by artists may be temporary or otherwise different from the traditional gallery format. Contemporary art galleries are usually free and open to the public, however some are semi-private, more exclusive, and by appointment only. – sourced from

Contemporary art galleries are often established together in urban centers, clustering for economic and practical reasons, mainly for the general public/buyers to view more art travelling by foot. This is the model of the Chelsea district in New York City, the center of the American contemporary art world. Other large urban areas have several art galleries, and most towns will be home to at least one. There are also successful models of small/remote locales attracting artist colonies [as in Taos, New Mexico].

In addition to the foregoing, the Go Lean book relates (Page 291) the historicity of Taos, New Mexico in the Southwest USA. This community is the most renown artist colony in the country. Art drives the economics, security and governance of that town.

The Go Lean book and movement presents this roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The CU is set to optimize Caribbean society through economic, security and governing empowerments. Therefore the Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean/CU roadmap asserts that forging change in the Caribbean will be a hard, heavy-lift task and many alternate strategies – the 8 from above – may have to be engaged. Any one person – think artists – can make a difference and positively impact society; such a person can be a champion for our Caribbean cause. We can all work to make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. Fostering the genius ability in Caribbean citizens is presented in the book (Page 27) as a community ethos.

The Go Lean book presented the roadmap to imbrue the Caribbean region with new community ethos, plus new strategies, tactics, implementation and advocacies to execute to forge change in the region. The following is a sample of these specific details from the book:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – People Choose Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – People Respond to Incentives in Predictable Ways Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – The Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Minority Equalization Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Turn-Arounds – Mitigating Urban Decay with Art Page 33
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate 30 Member-States Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Celebrate the Music, Sports, Art and Culture of the Caribbean Page 46
Tactical – Confederating a Permanent Union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – CU Federal Agencies versus Member-State Governments Page 71
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – National/Federal Museum in the Capital District Page 110
Planning – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean Region Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Reasons Why the CU Will Succeed Page 132
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Communications – Community Messaging Page 186
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231
Appendix – Taos Art Colony – New Mexico‘s Landmark Page 291

The empowerments in the Go Lean book call for permanent change. This is possible. The people of the Caribbean want opportunities; they want peace & security and to be able to provide for their families. This is the expectation of anybody in any modern society.

The Go Lean roadmap offers the technocratic execution of these deliverables. Imagine identifying and fostering the genius abilities of artists and entertainers (singers, dancers, musicians, performers, etc.). The end-product of their genius may be a good time, and good impressions for all Caribbean stakeholders – residents and tourists alike. Art should not only mitigate ugly visuals (eye-sores), it can be a successful business model as well. From the outset, the book recognized the significance of successful models for the arts in this roadmap with these statements in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 13 & 14):

xxi.  Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

The Go Lean roadmap seeks to foster the eco-system for the business of the arts. The more lucrative the industry, the more participation from artists, the more impact the arts can have on society. This is a simple mission:

Forge change through the arts.

This quest – fostering the economic opportunities from artistic endeavors – has been addressed in many previous Go Lean commentaries; see sample here: The New Smithsonian African-American Museum The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, Senegal, Africa Sidney Poitier – ‘Breaking New Ground’ in the Art of Movie-making Art Basel Miami – a Testament to the Spread of Art & Culture Caribbean Role Model for the Arts/Fashion – Oscar De La Renta: RIP Caribbean Musical Artist & Businessman: Bob Marley – The legend lives on!

Good luck to South Sudan and the rest of Africa for transforming their communities for peace. But let’s be successful in the Caribbean.

We can do this; we can forge change here. Our roadmap is conceivable, believable and achievable. We can make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix VIDEO A – South Sudan –

Aljazeera December 1, 2016 – UN says South Sedan is on brink of catastrophe as ethnic violence rises.


Appendix VIDEO B – Painting the town: Philly’s artful murals –

Published on Jul 24, 2016 – Philadelphia has an iconic art museum but some of the city’s most impressive art is out on the street, thanks to the city’s mural program. Anthony Mason reports on how splashing some color on city streets has lifted the spirits of the community.
More info: Why Murals? | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios


Appendix VIDEO C – V for Vendetta – Artists Use Lies (Fiction) to Reveal the Truth –

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