Staff Picnic Photo
From our annual holiday party 2018.

Mission Statement
Syracuse Cultural Workers' mission is to nourish communities that honor diversity and creative expression, and inspire movements for justice, equality and liberation while respecting our Earth and all its beings.

We see cultural work as an essential part of and support for political and economic change. Many of our materials celebrate movements for social change and their leaders, thus helping to legitimize history that is largely ignored or trivialized by commercial media and school textbooks. SCW also helps to unite socially concerned artists with a growing audience hungry for meaningful artwork.

Founded in 1982, SCW is a progressive publisher committed to peace, sustainability, social justice, feminism and multiculturalism. We create and publish visual materials, like calendars, posters, T-shirts, cards and postcards, and distribute them across North America. We also distribute selected products, like books, music and DVDs, to complement our offerings.

What We Believe
Art is a critical complement to activism, lending soul to a function which is often brain heavy and spirit thin. No matter how brilliant our attempts to inform, it is our ability to inspire that will turn the tides.

When we look for hope, we turn to works of socially responsible artists which address the richness, the sacredness and the crisis of the contemporary human family. We are inspired by work that relates matter to spirit, that transforms a chunk of honest reality into profound possibility by a change of tone or throw of light. Art created with a sense of integrity has a redemptive power, a healing power which helps us transcend the tragic particularities of our culture. We are responsible for creating a culture in our own image. Our work is not simply to expose the evils, display our disrespect for greed and violence, refuse to cooperate with a consumerist culture. We need to build a culture of change. We need political art that is visionary, visionary art that is political.

We are a vast community of resisters and believers, artists and activists. Though we are renewed collectively at political rallies, music festivals, Solstice rituals, what is it that sustains us when the candles are out and the crowd disperses? What is it that keeps us fueled for the fight in our day-to-dayness? Art reflects our visions back to us, bears witness to the triumph of our sensibilities, helps us remember what we need to remember in order to survive. Art and activism is like yin and yang, light and dark - one is nothing without the other.
- Jan Phillips, SCW Co-founder

What Are Cultural Workers?
This statement is from the 1979 Peace Calendar which opposed nuclear power and weapons. It was published by the Syracuse Peace Council, coordinated by myself. The statement holds up reasonably well after 30 years and, hopefully, answers a frequently asked question about SCW’s name.

“Cultural Workers” The term “cultural worker” may be new to some people. We use it to suggest several things. First, that the task of creating culture in a society is not the work of an elite, highly-paid few—which has become the case in our mass-market society; for example, if a restaurant needs a painting for its wall or a musician to entertain its customers, why not seek out the talents of local people rather than the highly-paid “notables that have made it..” Second, that people who create culture are legitimate workers who deserve to be recognized and valued for their work, not “patronized.” Third, that the process of creation is based in a desire to improve the lives of people not to just turn a profit. Fourth, that all of us, in some way, are capable of being cultural workers if we can only free ourselves from “I’m not talented” paralysis that elitism and competition produce in our capitalist society.

Most of the wonderful cultural workers that SCW works with are struggling. They need and deserve all of our support.
-Dik Cool

Where We Operate
Syracuse is located on the territory of the sovereign Onondaga Nation, a unique indigenous nation that has successfully maintained its traditional government through centuries of colonization and efforts at cultural genocide. While most of the Onondaga land was stolen in a series of illegal treaties and military incursions, the Onondaga have continuously maintained a community and way of life here in Central New York. We express our deep appreciation for their care for the Earth that we share and for their desire for peaceful and just relations with their neighbors. SCW works closely with people from Onondaga to share appropriate elements of their culture, teachings and our shared history. We are committed to working for justice for the Onondaga and all indigenous peoples.

Central New York also has a long, deep legacy of social activism - from abolition to women's rights, workers struggles, anti-war activism and much more.