Re-Imagining Democracy: in search of silenced voices
Call for Submissions
Johannesburg, 3 July 2018 – What does democracy mean to you? How are youth in your community putting democracy into action? What do you see as threats to democracy today? What does your ideal democracy look like?
‘Through Arts and Imagination’ is a global contest seeking bold and original creative arts submissions – music, poetry, art, multimedia – that present youth perspectives on Re-imagining Democracy. To celebrate International Youth Day on 12 August 2018, the Youth Working Group at CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, would like to create space for the voices of silenced youth to be heard. CIVICUS wants to provide an opportunity for youth to express a vision of democracy reimagined. You will not only get the chance to make your voice heard by a global audience, but you will also get a chance to help a cause of your choice!
“In a world in which our democracy and fundamental freedoms are under increasing threat, a world where the voices of young people are silenced and marginalised, we believe that it is up to this generation to re-imagine the democracy we want to live in,” said Elisa Novoa, of the CIVICUS Youth Working Group.
The Symposium hopes to showcase pieces that present what democracy means to you – what it looks like and feels like in everyday life. We want to see that democracy is about more than just putting a ballot in a box, but instead involves actions such as: organizing, thinking and writing, working alongside others, protesting, expressing solidarity, being part of a community, and engaging locally. You are also welcome to submit your ideas and dreams about a democracy that is true to its name – ‘rule by the people’ – and how you imagine it would play out in your community.
What are we looking for?
The Youth Day Creative Symposium has three submission categories:
- Written arts: poems, short stories, essays (500 words max.)
- Visual arts: drawings, cartoons, paintings, photography, collages
- Multimedia arts: short films (2 min max), songs
The submission must relate to the overall theme of Re-Imagining Democracy. Submissions should present your views and feelings on the current state of democracy and your views, as a young person, on rethinking and rebuilding it.
Your submission should relate to one of the following sub-themes:
- Diversity- We are One! Art that celebrate, feature and empower people of many different intersectional identities (gender, race, sexuality, age, ethnicity, nationality, etc.)
- Culture and society - Breaking Barriers for all! Art that showcases intercultural-interreligious integration and “decoloniality”
- Economic justice. Art that speaks to solidarity economies, democratisation of labour, youth social entrepreneurship and just transition
- Democratisation of education Art that shares a message around access to education, different modes of learning, active participation and dialogue, education of multiple historical narratives
- Silenced/unsilenced youth - Hear my voice! The experience of driving a rights-based agenda: organising, speaking up, mobilising.
Are you Eligible?
In order to submit a piece in this contest participants and submissions must fulfill the criteria below:
- Creators must be 30 and under by 12 August 2018
- Submissions must respect the deadline (27 July, 2018)
- Only one submission per person
- Original content that hasn’t previously been published
- Agreement with the Youth Day Symposium Terms and Conditions and CIVICUS event principles
- Submission in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese
What’s in it for you?
- The top 15 submissions will be promoted on the CIVICUS social media pages.
- One-day workshop run by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation to support participants in their work to share powerful messages through creative mediums on Friday 10 August in online for the top 15 submissions.
- Cash prize and free CIVICUS voting membership to the organisations that the top 3 symposium participants chose to donate their prize to.
- 1st place: 300$US
- Publication of the best (3) submission in the 2018 State of Civil Society Report.
How to submit?
Please submit your application by filling in this form: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/international-youth-day-symposium. The deadline for submissions is 27th July 2018. For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at
How will your submission be evaluated?
- Creativity: The submission is created based on an original idea and the participant has showed the use of their imagination and has created something unique.
- Authenticity: The submission is reflective of the participant’s experience, a true lived experience, or a vision of potential experience. The piece is grounded in the reality of the topic of reimagining democracy as they understand it and creatively interpret it.
- Connection to the theme: The submission directly relates to one of the presented sub-themes and explores and relevant and pertinent issue within that sub-theme.
- Connection to struggle & contributions to community: The submission reflects a relevant challenge that is faced by youth based on the themes. It tells a story of an initiative creating a positive outcome for a community.
- Youth perspective: The submission presents and considers the youth voice and experience.
*Consideration will be given to ensure gender, ethnic and religious diversity of contestants.
 2018 Creative Symposium partners might be able to provide a physical space to run this workshop in their cities.
 Participants will select in their registration form an organisation contributing towards the solution of their selected cause to donate their prize if their poem, song or short story is selected in the top 3.