The Creative Advocacy Partnership (CAP) is a collective of Australian advocates, artists, designers and curators who use creative practice to bring heart and humanity to advocacy work. The CAP has 4 core members Tasman Munro, Arunn Jegan, Caitlin Gibson and Simone Chau, and on each project we invite 3 or 4 people from the community who are the focus of the advocacy work.
The established in 2022 with support from a range of orgs including Médecins Sans Frontières, and Amigo & Amigo.
“Creative advocacy does not take away from our engagements with decision-makers, but aims to raise awareness in ways we haven’t tried before”
- Arunn Jegan (MSF Humanitarian Affairs Lead)
SKETCHING A FRAMEWORK FOR CREATIVE ADVOCACY:
Creative advocacy is an approach that partners with community and uses creative practice (e.g. art, design, poetry and performance) to advocate for positive change. Our Ingredients for creative advocacy include:
Advocacy: This is the core objective and practice - bringing power to disempowered communities and building and sharing messages to inform positive change. Where traditional advocacy may highlight critical needs and articulate clear asks (e.g. policy changes or donations) creative advocacy works in a more nuanced way, it aims to cut through the figures, politics and media stories and remind us that within these situations there are real people with real stories, and if we connect with these people we might just start to care. This care and connection can be a powerful force for change.
Partnerships: Advocacy happens in partnership with the communities who are the focus of the advocacy. This enables relative lived experience to drive the project, and aims to strengthen community leadership and relationships within community and between community, supporters and decision makers. This is reflected in the governance (e.g. half the CAP seats are Rohingya folks), the process (we use co-design and as our core process) and the sharing of work (storytelling, exhibition or events are hosted together with the makers and their broader communities).
Creative practice: the partnership building, crafting and sharing of stories happens through creative practice. We say creative practice rather than art as it feels more open, we have diverse backgrounds in design, making, audio producing, poetry and performance. We’ve experienced that collaborative making can enable transformative experiences and relationships to form and the creative outputs can engage audiences and decision makers with the stories and the situation in new and impactful ways.
Storywork: we focus on stories as they are a powerful tool for building relationships, connections and influencing change. We use storytelling as a practice within the co-design process as well as a tool to share messages with decision makers and the public. Often communities in need of advocacy have have disempowering narratives placed upon them, these narratives can have tangible influence on their reality. We utilise ‘Re-authoring’ practices (from narrative therapy) to support communities to strengthen and share their lesser known stories, stories that paint richer pictures of community and open new directions forward.
WORKING WITH THE ROHINGYA COMMUNITY:
Since 2022 the CAP have been collaborating with the Rohingya community to share experiences of statelessness and support the community to strengthen a culture that is at threat of disappearing. Three Rohingya advocates and artists joined the CAP for this work including Asma (poet and human rights and youth leader in Sydney), Sujauddin (poet and community leader in Malaysia) and Ruhul (advocate in Kutupalong refugee camp). We have run a series of creative projects and events in Sydney and Bangladesh.
Collaborative workshops (Kutupalong Refugee Camp)
Two weeks collaborating with Rohingya storytellers, families, bamboo weavers to create a large artwork and series of films celebrating Rohingya folktales and sharing messages of living for 6 years in a refugee camp.
Rememberance events (Kutupalong Refugee camp)
A week of creative events with schools and families in hospitals involving storytelling and art to support the community to mark 6 years living in exile.
A night to celebrate Rohingya Culture (Sydney)
Exhibition, film screening, poetry performance, dinner and discussion. The event shared CAP’s work in Bangladesh, and brought artists, advocates and the Rohingya community together to discuss creative approaches to advocacy.
Creative Advocacy panel discussion (Sydney)
A produced discussion between CAP members Sujauddin Karimuddin and Caitlin Gibson at MSF to support organisational development.