What does it mean to be counted? What does it mean to belong? How do we stand with those who are not seen, heard, and included?
The United States Census—a count of our national population—is the only fully-inclusive act our democracy offers to assess and meet the needs of each person living in our country. Everyone, citizen or not, has the right to safely participate. When you fill out the Census, each person in your household brings $20,000 into your community over the next ten years for affordable housing, healthcare, education, essential emergency services, infrastructure, job training, and more. You also protect your voice, voting power, and equal representation in government.
With the belief that art has the capacity to move people to act, YBCA partnered with Art+Action—a cross-sector coalition for civic participation—to explore how artists can inspire all communities to ignite the 2020 Census as an opportunity for agency, belonging, and resistance
The 2020 Census saw historic obstacles to a safe and accurate count. Significant threats such as escalating anti-immigrant rhetoric, language barriers, digital literacy, and cybersecurity concerns put all of our communities—and especially those most vulnerable—at risk of not being counted.
YBCA engaged Bay Area artists working across a range of disciplines to offer ruminations on identity, visibility, and citizenship against the backdrop of a region that many marginalized and undercounted communities call home. Ranging from site-specific and participatory installations to paintings, films, ceramics, and photographs, the works interrogated the social, political, and cultural implications of being counted.
Pivoting to an online presentation at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, YBCA reimagined the physical opening for a virtual space, in the hope that we could all strengthen our communities and secure our collective future. The Come To Your Census digital engagements took a variety of forms, including interactive video games, virtual gatherings, and newly commissioned written and filmed artist responses, to underscore the Census as an essential service which ensures our communities’ long-term health and strength.