We want to reach out to our community to ask how we should move forward? We want to serve as a site of care for the field, and we can’t do so without direct input from it.  

We’ve been ruminating on the words There is always a better idea. We are open to leaving the form of the conference completely behind. We hoping to listen, to learn, and to change and to grow as our community needs us to. We are hoping to fortify OE as a site that imagines and realizes what does not yet exist, that we can be radical, and that above all that we care for and support this field.

As Open Engagement heads into an exploratory year of research, reflection, and regeneration we are asking ourselves what could OE be in the future? What’s missing? How can we generate resources that ensure everyone involved is valued? What do you want, what do you need? What do you want to give? How can we be a safe space for radical thought? How can we be and support the artists, activists, writers, organizers, witches, and punks that we want to be and want to see in the world?

These are just some of the questions that we’ve come up with — we are turning to you now to share your questions and current thoughts on the field with us. In the spirit of Sister Corita’s research-based quantity assignment where you generate 100 questions before you begin to do the work, we are reaching out to all of you to help us collectively generate 100 questions. Please take 5-10 minutes to fill out our Survey for the Field questionnaire and share your thoughts on funding for socially engaged art, institutional support, community-based practices, education and more. Anything that you’d like to share with us — your thoughts, your time, your resources to move OE forward — we would be so grateful to receive.

We look forward to sharing these thoughts and questions out with all of you, as well as the progress we make throughout the exploratory year. There will be a series of small public moments, conversations and gatherings that will happen organized by the core OE team in 2019. Look out for announcements and the full schedule of activities this fall.

Open Engagement is not a non-profit organization – it is an artist-run project that has always operated primarily with volunteer labor. OE has never had a full-time staff member, our founder/director is not paid for her contributions, and our operating budget doesn’t reach even half of the average funding for convenings a fraction of our size. We have never been in a financial position to compensate presenters, subsidy the cost of their travel, or pay staff a fair wage. As we imagine the future, we are searching for ways to value and sustain everyone involved. We currently do not have any funding.

Even though we are no organizing a major conference in 2019 remember that we are here with you. We are here to work hard, fight for change, and show up for one another in the continued struggles of our time.

With all the weirdness, magic, care, and love our hearts, minds, and spirits can muster,
Jen Delos Reyes, Crystal Baxley and Latham Zearfoss