Frequently Asked Questions

A handy guide to the Citizen Joy! Project. As compiled by Citizen Barbara K.

What is Citizen Joy?

Citizen Joy is a celebration of democracy.

Citizen Joy is a national coalition of artists, arts organizations, and educators from all disciplines that are using art to cut through the doom and gloom about politics, explore what we have (and could lose) as citizens, and energize people to do what they can to protect our democratic rights and freedoms. (Voting is one good option.)

Citizen Joy is focused on gratitude, agency, and harmony.

Along with a growing virtual presence, there will be live performances and exhibitions as well as school-based and community workshops around the country. Beginning on July 27th, 2024, partners will explore, perform, and present their versions of Citizen Joy, asking and answering these questions:

● What does your government do that brings you joy? (Gratitude)

● What choices are you able to make that are dear to your heart? (Agency)

● When do you feel in harmony with your fellow citizens? (Harmony)

How did Citizen Joy get started?

In the words of Citizen Joy founder Jeff Raz:

I was sitting at my local coffee shop, thinking, “We’re told we need to defend our democracy, especially this year, but I’m not sure if we know what democracy really is; I’m pretty sure I don’t.” Just then, the woman at the next table said, “I can’t stop doom scrolling; it’s driving me crazy!” Citizen Joy is what I came up with to help her, and me.

The best possible situation for autocrats is a disheartened, disconnected, divided populace. I believe we need to engage as citizens to defend the best of what democracy is and can be. We need to understand and love what we’re defending.

Artists can help because artists know how to deal with the gnarliest of subjects in a way that energizes people. It turns out that almost every artist and educator I’ve spoken to about Citizen Joy is excited to create the opposite of doom scrolling, and grow meaningful citizen engagement. They are ready for Citizen Joy.

How is Citizen Joy organized?

Citizen Joy is an all-volunteer effort. We hope to be a spark, an inspiration for people across the country to grab the bit and do whatever they are inspired to do, where they are, with the friends and resources they can command. Citizen Joy will provide a showcase where people can post about what they’re doing and learning.

There are weekly partner Zoom calls and a small leadership team helping to guide and support the diverse and decentralized efforts of educators, artists, and arts organizations all over the country.

Who are the partners?

As of April 30, there are nearly 30 partners committed to Citizen Joy. They include George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, Circus Bella, Oakland School of the Arts, Dell A’rte International, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Sanchez Art Center and Edutainment for Equity.

For a complete and up-to-date list of partners, please visit the Partners & Connections page of this website.

What are the partners planning?

Many partners will use a play structure/facilitation guide developed by Rebecca Novick and Jeff Raz. Actors/performers and/or trained facilitators will lead participants through a process of discovering and acknowledging the privileges many of us enjoy living in a democracy and the tangible and intangible ways local, state, and federal government contributes to our quality of life.

From George Mason University, The Green Machine will add Citizen Joy themes to an event on July 27.

Various partners will add Citizen Joy to summer camp and community outreach programs.

And there are dozens of other community engagement programs in the “dreaming-it-up” stage. Expect parades, sing-alongs, art exhibitions, circus, poetry, music, and more. There may even be a celebration of traffic circles.

As plans are developed, partners will post on social media using #citizenjoy.

How do I become a Citizen Joy partner?

Citizen Joy is welcoming new partners every day.

Interested artists and arts organizations should reach out directly to Jeff Raz at

jeffraz18@gmail.com

What support is available to partners?

Facilitation guides are provided on request.

Rebecca Novick and Jeff Raz are available to work with partners to develop their unique version of Citizen Joy. In addition, Jeff will provide free training for Citizen Joy facilitators beginning in early June.

What is important about July 27th?

We are inspired to launch all of our work on a single day, along with our colleagues at

Arts for Everybody, because in 1936, Federal Theater Project companies in 18 cities and towns opened their interpretations of the anti-fascist play “It Can’t Happen Here” all on the same day. By the time these productions closed, more than 379,000 Americans had seen the play.

What happens after July?

Following the launch on July 27, Citizen Joy partners will continue with their efforts

and continue posting online about it #citizenjoy.

We hope the work of active Citizen Joy partners will continue to spark the creativity of others to make and share their own art based on the Citizen Joy themes and questions, related to Gratitude, Agency, and Harmony #citizenjoy.

We also hope to inspire a growing number of citizens to vote, to keep learning about

what government is and does, and to engage more in civic life.

Where do I go to learn more?

Visit our facebook page to keep up with Citizen Joy partners and participants. We are

also on Instagram at citizenjoyful. Or visit us at citizenjoy.org.

I’m not a professional artist or performer, but I want to help. What can I do?

● Create your own expression of Citizen Joy. Post on social media about your art

and your process with #citizenjoy.

● Share Citizen Joy with your own networks and encourage participation.

● If you have time and there is a Citizen Joy partner in your area, reach out to them directly to volunteer.

● Cash contributions are welcome and will help cover expenses related to performances and exhibitions. Send donations to: TBD

● And of course, you can vote!


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