People's Climate Arts

Art Show


Two months after the historic Peoples’ Climate March, and days before the UN Climate Summit in Lima, Peru artists and activists came together for an evening of art & activism, as solidarity events began in NYC.


The PCM & FWS gave birth to a flourishing art movement around Climate Justice, where art was central not only to public expression during the march, but central to the organizing strategy and action design. Photographs, screen prints, posters, sculpture, video and more were included in the multimedia exhibit.


A portion of The Climate Ribbon, a large scale, participatory public art project that debuted at the finale of the march, was installed in the gallery. Ileia Burgos of Rockaway Wildfire lead the crowd through the ribbon ritual, where attendees were invited to write on a ribbon “what they love and hope never to lose to climate chaos” and then tie them to the structure. Finally, they were asked to choose one that was written by another and tie it around their wrist to take with them. The ribbons will be installed in the streets of Paris in December, 2015, during the next UN Climate Summit.(


The evening was accompanied by live screen printing by OWS screenprinters of new images by the artists Mona Caron and Crystal Clarity.

MayDay Stands With Ferguson

MayDay Stands With Ferguson


Since October, MayDay Arts Space has hosted a series of gatherings in support of the uprising that began in Ferguson and is spreading nationally; it has also provided the space for Families United For Justice, an organization of families who have lost loved ones to police violence, to organize.


Reportback from Ferguson


On Monday, October 20th, community members gathered to listen to 4 panelists report back on their recent experience in Ferguson, MO, the previous weekend, a national call put out by Ferguson organizers calling for supporters to join their struggle to demand Justice for #MichaelBrown



  • William Sylvester,  Question Bridge: Black Males
  • Keeshan Harley, 19-year-old member of Make the Road New York
  • Dragonfly, activist and performer, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping
  • Tareq, Veterans For Peace
  • Moderated by Oja Soundtwista


MayDay hosted a report back with organizers recently returned from the coordinated weekend of actions in Ferguson, Missouri. Having stood in solidarity with local community groups fighting for racial justice and police accountability, these activists shared personal stories of how they were moved by the struggle in the streets as well as insights on how to sustain this momentum with related efforts in NYC.

Arts Production


Artists worked in the Mayday space all weekend long, and attendees were invited to stay after the event to help finish artwork and sign-making for the day of action. People’s Climate Arts artist and stewardship committee member Raul Ayala created a large banner for the action.



With the support from People’s Climate Arts and MayDay, community artists met with family members impacted by police violence to create portraits of their loved ones. These portraits were then used in public mobilizations to protest police violence.




Action Support


These events occurred in conjunction with the October 22nd events in New York City – The National Day to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalisation of a Generation.


The time was used to consider lessons learned in preparation for a day of non-violent protest alongside families affected by police violence.








October 24, 2014 – 50+ people gathered at Mayday Arts Space to share art (visual, film,, musical & performing arts) and dialogue about the anti-police brutality movement in Ferguson, NYC, and nationwide. The funds raised will aid the legal services needs of the young people in Ferguson.

About the organizers:

Families United 4 Justice (FU4J)is an organization made up of families affected by police violence.

In early October, Cynthia Howell, niece of Police Brutality victim, Alberta Spruill, called for the families most affected by police violence (those who have lost loved ones to police) of New York to come together and form a collective.


Due to the perceived need that families most affected by police violence should be supported rather than exploited and should ultimately be able to represent themselves, the collective was formed with the intent to connect families and hold space for them to assess their needs, support each other, share resources, and organize together.

The first 3 meetings were held at Mayday Arts Space at 214 Starr Street. Families came together to share their stories and establish the foundation in which FU4J would grow from. Right after the 2nd meeting, the families participated in the democratic process and came up with the name, Families United 4 Justice.

With the support from PCM Arts and MayDay, community artists were able to work directly with family members to create portraits of their loved ones in time to lead the march on October 22nd, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality.

In the short amount of time FU4J has been operating, 15 families have joined FU4J, participating in  conference calls and meetings.

We envision that one day all the families will be empowered through organizing themselves rather than to have political figureheads and organizations misrepresent them.


For more information, please contact Cynthia Howell @


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A guide to the Arts at the People's Climate March 

The March on Sunday, September 21 2014  was a big and beautiful display showing that art plays (and played) a central role in this newly transformed movement for Climate Justice. Many participating communities used giant, bold and colorful floats, sculptures, puppets and banners to express their message clearly and powerfully during the march. And much of the art was made at People’s Climate Art at Mayday (on-goinbar and community space in Bushwick, Brooklyn for engaging programming, nightlife events and social justice organizing for all of NYC). Here is an incomplete and only partial list of some of the art that was on display:     PCMVisuals 2 PCMVisuals 3 PCMVisuals 4 PCMVisuals 5 PCMVisuals 6 PCMVisuals 7 PCMVisuals 8 PCMVisuals 9 PCMVisuals 10 PCMVisuals 11

Stay in the know. Get involved!

It takes vision to build a movement. It takes creativity to transform society, and ourselves. We invite you to join us in building bold, innovative and vibrant artists wing of the People’s Climate March and surrounding actions so that we may help uplift the stories of our many communities and clearly communicate the historic urgency of this moment.

Pick up a brush, pen, pencil, instrument or mic, and join us in creating the stories, images, songs and spectacles that will amplify this movement both in NYC and across the country, and communicate its urgent message across the world.

Here’s how to get involved:

      • Get on the listserve
      • Attend our regular artists hub meetings
      • Share what we’re working on so we can cross pollinate and collaborate
      • Come to the MayDay Artspace


People’s Climate Sporatorium: an online listserv and monthly space for NY-based artists, cultural producers,and activists to network and incubate in support of the world’s largest climate march and mobilization this September. 

*SPORATORIUM DEFINED:a) Ancient: Sporeio, a public space for germinating seeds b) Contemporary: from Spore, the reproductive units of fungal mycelium, an underground network of networks that anchors the soil and mingles with all matters of plants- sharing space and swapping nutrients. c) Colloquial: S.P.O.R.E: Special Projects Organizing and Research ExchangeWe are also amplifying our voices in the digital sphere!


#peoplesclimate  – for all People’s Climate March related events

#climateart – for all Arts-related efforts on Climate Change

#maydayspace – for anything related to the MayDay Artspace

A beautiful and creative way to talk about climate


A travelling-downloadable-power-point-meets-puppet-show, performable by anyone (including you!)

Currently in rotation in 9 cities across the USA and Canada (and online)!


Link to share: VIDEO


Download the images, print them out (or project them on a wall or building) and choose one of the scripts below, mix them up or write your own.

BUS PASSENGERS/CAPTAINS, CARPOOLS & TRAIN RIDERS This perfect to engage and inspire your fellow passengers or the public on your trip to NYC.  Simply print out the cantastoria art and one of the the scripts to read aloud while showing the art: perfect for bus or car rides to the mobilization.



San Francisco Bay Area spoken word poet James D’Albora wrote this rhyming poetry version. Here is the first presentation in Oakland, CA with Valerie Love:

Link to youtube

SIMPLE SHORT SCRIPT:  Same text as in the Video People’s Climate: A Cantastoria

LONGER VERSION SCRIPT: interpreted and performed to mobilize folks in Maine by Jesse Orr on Youtube here

WAIT, WHAT’S A CANTASTORIA? “Cantastoria,” in the words of leading US cantastoria maker-performer-researcher Clare Dolan, “is an Italian word for the ancient performance form of picture-story recitation, which involves sung narration accompanied by reference to painted banners, scrolls, or placards. It is a tradition belonging to the underdog, to chronically itinerant people of low social status, yet also inextricably linked to the sacred. It is a practice very much alive today, existing in a wide variety of incarnations around the world, and fulfilling very diverse functions for different populations. Picture-story recitation in its earliest form involved the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Originating in 6th Century India, this religious and then increasingly secular practice evolved as it spread both east and west. ”

Mayday for the Planet: Climate Change Resistance in Bushwick

By John Tarleton
August 14, 2014
Issue #

Tens of thousands of protesters from across the United States are expected to fill the streets of Midtown Manhattan on September 21. They will demand that world leaders take action on climate change at a U.N. summit to be held in the city two days later. More than getting large numbers of people into the streets, organizers of the People’s Climate March are turning to artists to drive home their message that pursuing business-as-usual policies while the planet burns is no longer acceptable.

The climate march will include hundreds of children carrying their own hand-made signs and banners, scientists in white lab coats, building trades workers with images of green buildings, Hurricane Sandy survivors holding aloft waves made of papier mâché, a bike bloc, a boat bloc, roving musicians, a climate march chorus, a “people’s treaty” mass public ritual at the end of the protest and much more.

“This is the place where we can show all the different ways climate change affects human life,” said Rachel Schragis, a visual artist and organizer with the environmental group

Much of the arts production for the climate march and other spin-off protests around the U.N. summit will take place out of the second floor of the newly opened Mayday community center in Bushwick, seven subway stops into Brooklyn and far removed from the wealth and power of Midtown. The space will also host working group meetings and possibly an online media center that would cover the climate mobilization.

On the first Sunday in August, the 4,000- square-foot Mayday arts space was already bustling with energy as People’s Climate Arts Team staffers and volunteers moved in donated furniture and supplies and painted colorful signs to be posted around the space. The expectation that hundreds more people will be pouring into the space in several weeks’ time was palpable.

“To see a space like this pop up feels right to me,” said Raquel de Anda, an arts team project coordinator and former curator of a radical Latino art gallery in San Francisco.

The People’s Climate March has been endorsed by more than 700 groups from across the country, including a number of New York City labor unions, faith-based groups and community organizations. The two biggest players behind the protest are and Avaaz, a global, online civic organization co-founded by

Planning for the climate march began early this year. Activists with past ties to the Occupy movement urged the protest’s leaders to put arts at the center of the event and to not make a large turnout the sole metric of success.

“For popular social movements to succeed, art and creative work must be at the core of their visions,” said Gan Golan, another arts team project coordinator.

Mayday_use me_web

Mission statement: People’s Climate Arts Team members believe everyone is an artist and look forward to working with groups across the city. Photo: Alina Mogilyanskaya

Putting art at the center of a movement, explains Golan, allows it to speak in a bold, unapologetic voice and to offer a galvanizing vision of not only what people are fighting against, but what they are fighting for.

Golan is on leave from his position as national training director for Beautiful Trouble, a network of artist-activists that trains grassroots movements in how to be more creative and impactful. In Golan’s recounting of U.S. social movement history over the past 40 years, the unraveling of the New Left and the counter-culture at the end of the 1960s prompted a shift toward more button-downed, professionalized forms of activism. This turn saw the rise of non-profits with corporate structures that focused on winning incremental victories. The cautious speech of well-educated professionals like lawyers and academics became ascendant while the utopian voice of the artist was cast aside.

That is beginning to change, says Golan, especially since Occupy’s success in bringing a vision of broad-based resistance to corporate rule into mainstream society, something others on the Left had failed to do for decades.

Occupy also helped to popularize a networked approach to organizing that creates real or virtual spaces from which people can self-organize their own actions. This approach, which Golan refers to as Organizing 3.0, is gaining more acceptance, he says, from people doing Organizing 1.0 (traditional Saul Alinsky-style community organizing) and Organizing 2.0 (Internet-based activism that relies on large numbers of people responding to appeals to carry out small tasks to achieve a larger goal).

“Each of these models is very good at very specific things,” Golan says. “Our goal is not to replace other models, but we can be the missing ingredient.

People’s Climate March leaders have committed substantial resources to the arts space, including funding for five full-time staff positions. In time, the march may be seen as a breakthrough in how activists from different organizing traditions can mesh their strengths to create a more powerful protest than any could do on their own.

“We have the perfect marriage of the grassroots and the funding of the 501c3,” said Oja Vincent, director of operations for the arts space.


Can capitalism solve the climate crisis it created? Or will addressing climate change require system change, i.e., a radical break with a socioeconomic model that values profits above people and the planet? Organizers with the NYC Climate Convergence believe the latter. They are hosting a Sept. 19-21 gathering that will feature movement-building workshops, skill shares and a roster of speakers that includes food sovereignty champion Vandana Shiva, Bolivian labor leader and water rights activist Oscar Olivera and 2012 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

The NYC Climate Convergence will host a fundraiser for the event Aug. 29 at the rooftop garden of the Brooklyn Commons at 388 Atlantic Avenue. For more information, see

—The Indypendent Staff

Climate march organizers have worked to make sure that the march and the arts space reflect the diversity of the city. Grants have been made to a number of groups, including Rockaway Wildfire, Right to the City Alliance, the Sunset Park-based UPROSE and the Immigrant Workers Art Collective. Each of these groups will be producing their own art for the march with help from the trained artists as needed.

For de Anda, the work going into the march will help to build relationships among a citywide network of groups that can be activated again in the future. Bringing the People’s Climate March art space to Bushwick has also been a boon for Mayday.

“This is our wildest dream come true,” said Ana Nogueira, one of Mayday’s co-founders. “It’s a great start to the space.

Nogueira, a journalist and documentary filmmaker who co-founded The Indypendent in 2000, and Mcnair Scott, her business partner, hope to launch a bar and performance space on the first floor by the end of the year. The revenues from that would be used to subsidize an ongoing non-profit social movement space on the second floor.

“Our movements need infrastructure,” Nogueira said. “Being in a movement building having face-to-face conversations with people makes our work more fun and effective.

For now, the focus at Mayday is on filling New York’s streets next month with politically charged art. Climate change has languished as a political issue while the planet has heated up at an alarming rate. For the People’s Climate March to have an impact, organizers know that it will take a whole lot of feet in the streets as well as visionary messaging that conveys why they are there.

“This is the incubator where people are coming together to create images that will last beyond the march,” de Anda said of the art space. “If we do this right, it will last in the perceptions that people will take with them from this event.”
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