Between October and December 2010, the first deliberative field experiment in Swiss direct democracy was conducted. The issue of the online experiment was the expulsion initiative („Ausschaffungsinitiative”) of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and the counterproposal of the government and parliament. The expulsion initiative was an emotionally charged issue with a populist dimension, and as such perhaps not well suited for reasoned discussion. At the same time, it is precisely this kind of direct democratic vote where deliberation is perhaps most needed.
The financial and economic crisis, of which we have heard so much discussion since 2007-8, is only one aspect of a whole series of underlying political trends which have been apparent for much longer: a crisis of (in)equality and of increased precarity of the workforce, a human rights crisis, a demographic crisis, an ecological crisis, a crisis in civil liberties, and above all a crisis in democracy.
The purpose of the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, Colorado was to include the inter-disciplinary arts community in a 21st-Century Town Meeting in an effort to construct a common agenda, create a multi-disciplinary infrastructure, and aid artists in advocacy. These goals would ultimately lead to those in the community being able to communicate the importance of the performing arts in the United States of America and having definitive methods for strengthening the future of the performing arts within the nation.