Art for Social Change

exploring the power of art

judithmarcuseWhy Art for Social Change? As society grapples with complex issues, challenges and concerns, the arts are finding their way into education, business, government and many other areas. These arts-based processes help to expand and deepen knowledge, create insight and engagement, change behaviour, and create opportunities for cooperative enterprise.

Throughout the world, an increasing number of artists and social enterprises are working together to facilitate positive social change through art, whether the work explores issues of racism, facilitates conflict-resolution, educates about health and environmental issues, empowers women to assert their human rights, builds resiliency in youth-at-risk, empowers marginalized communities, creates effective public policy, celebrates local histories, or simply provides new opportunities for expression and dialogue.

Art practices are potent tools serving diverse agendas for social change by engaging people with issues and with each other in new, creative ways.

Judith Marcuse
International Centre of Art for Social Change


For the community of enterprises interested and creating social change with art and how we create social chnage with art and what are our artists contributing to social chnage and how could we as artists and how could we use art and the creative expression of our artists to contribute to creating social change, – and what social change would we like to contribute and how could art and artists increase our ability to create social change with art.


To explore art as a tool from  what we have learned about the contribution of art to creating social change -and what kind of change – and what kind of change we are pursuing as an idea that will contribute to our creative and cultural evolution and to our evolution as a community.


Theatre for Living – Headlines Theatre
Empowering Youth to Build Peace – Peace it Together
Instruments of Change


A professional arts organization established in 1979, – Artistic Producer: Judith Marcuse, LL.D (hon.)

Major Funding for Ground-Breaking Arts Research

3 June 2013, Vancouver, BC, for immediate release: The directors and staff of Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP) are delighted to announce the launch of a five-year, national research program in art for social change (ASC) in Canada. ASC refers to the broad spectrum of ways in which the arts are used to engage people and encourage positive change.

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through its Partnership Program, Art for Social Change: A Research Partnership in Teaching, Evaluation and Capacity-Building, is “the first large-scale, systemic project of its kind in Canada,” stated Judith Marcuse, the project’s lead researcher and the founder of JMP. “The work we complete and the resources we create will benefit not only artist-researchers, but also individuals and organizations in diverse sectors who are already using arts-based practices in their work for positive change as well as those who are interested in adopting these approaches.”

Sandy Jacobs, the President of JMP’s Board of Directors, added, “We are gratified by the receipt of this grant, which testifies to our long-standing leadership role in this burgeoning field. We are delighted to be part of an extraordinary team that will encourage scholarship and participation in the many ways that socially-engaged arts integrate and celebrate imaginative ways to perceive and act in the world.”

The $2.5 million initiative reflects the burgeoning interest in Canada and around the world in utilizing the arts as powerful and practical vehicles for achieving positive change in communities and many other settings.

Based at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University (SFU), the initiative developed out of the seminal work of the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC), a partnership formed by JMP and SFU in 2008. The team of ten artist/scholars is a “who’s who” of experienced researchers in the field. Joined by 20 individual collaborators and 15 partnering universities and community organizations, the team will map and develop teaching and learning in the field; explore approaches to evaluation; and develop ways to maintain sustainable collaboration between ASC artists and non-arts organizations.

The research program will involve the participation of community members, students and change makers from a wide variety of sectors, including the health and justice systems; civil society, environmental, intercultural, elder and youth-focused organizations; and professionals working in the fields of social innovation, social enterprise and public policy.

Case study projects involving arts-based dialogue, performing, visual arts and social circus, as well as the creation of a learning institute, will enrich both research and the resources to be created. On-line videos, publications, public gatherings, exhibitions and performances will contribute to the work of ASC practitioners while bringing knowledge of this potent and effective form of change work to a wider public.

For more information, please contact: Judith Marcuse at or 604.319.8436.
1. The ICASC/JMP website is at

2. The research team is comprised of lead researcher Dr. Judith Marcuse, Simon Fraser University; and co-researchers Dr. Katherine Boydell, University of Toronto; Dr. Lisa Doolittle, University of Lethbridge; Dr. Lynn Fels, Simon Fraser University; Professor Anne Flynn, University of Calgary; Dr. Michelle LeBaron, University of British Columbia; Devora Neumark, Concordia University; Rachael Van Fossen, Concordia University; and Dr. Annalee Yassi, University of British Columbia


November 2, 2016

Art for Social Change
Across Canada, community-engaged/art for social change artists and organizations

There are significant distinctions between the practices of professional artists who present their work to the public and those who collaborate with community members as creative partners.
Community-engaged art practice
“Community-engaged arts are considered as an established cross-cutting artistic practice that permeates all ‘fields of practices’. But this work will be subsumed in other arts

In Canada, there are over 200 organizations, as well as many more independent artists, actively engaged in community-arts practice, and offering training programs for a new generation of community-based artist/practitioners.

the principles, objectives, criteria, and ethical considerations that guide the practice of community-engaged arts

“Community-engaged Arts” should be included in the list of “Artistic Fields of Practice” in The Canada Council’s New Funding Model, and the web portal should clearly name the practice, and articulate its guiding principles, objectives, criteria, and ethical considerations.

Peer assessment committees and juries that are including community-engaged arts proposals should include at least one full-time community-engaged arts practitioner or expert in community-engaged artistic practice. of process-based work is an essential component of our field.

The work of community-engaged artists is recognized as an increasingly robust and important practice in Canada and around the world. Canada has the potential to be a global leader in modeling this work.