After six cycles of generative creative exchanges, American Arts Incubator came to a close at the end of 2020. Between 2014 and 2020, we facilitated 30 American Arts Incubator exchanges in 28 countries, producing 182 art and projects for social impact and engaging over 1,300 workshop participants and 12,000 members of the public abroad.
In 2013, ZERO1 responded to a solicitation by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State to implement a program titled “Creative Arts Exchange: Community Engagement through the Arts.” We proposed an international arts exchange program that sent American artists abroad to collaborate with local youth and underserved populations on community-based art projects that advanced U.S. foreign policy goals by addressing a local community issue, such as youth empowerment or environmental health. In the exchange cycles since its launch, American Arts Incubator became a robust and innovative model for public diplomacy that drew on the practices of art, science, design, and entrepreneurship.
In 2018, we implemented a reciprocal exchange, Amplify, during which ZERO1 hosted six visiting international artists from each of that year’s exchange countries for a 10-day professional development workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. Exchange participants immersed themselves in the local media arts scene and completed workshops to further build their skills.
During the spring of 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned our exchanges to a virtual format. Ultimately, we found that digital exchange could still produce high-quality projects as well as meaningful dialogue and connection between participants during a time of acute isolation.
Our goals to instigate dialogue, build communities, bolster local economies, and further social innovation through American Arts Incubator were made possible through collaborations with over 75 host partners, outreach organizations, and U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. We thank them sincerely for their partnership and ongoing efforts to support creative approaches to social and environmental challenges.
American Arts Incubator was an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs developed in partnership with ZERO1.