Through innovative research and providing free resources the Center for Artistic Activism has helped build, sustain, and develop the field of artistic activism.

In 2009, the Center for Artistic Activism saw artists struggling to affect change, but without the pratical skills to implement their visions. Elsewhere we saw frustrated activists, repeating their traditional marches, petition drives, and vigils until they became frustrated and moved on. We saw movements for social change stagnating with wins coming more by luck than planning. The Center for Artistic Activism started bringing these practitices together to transform art and activism, using the best of each to leverage creativity and culture and successfully bring about social change.

But we knew creativity wasn’t enough. Training and organization is key.

From our very beginning we identified the fields of culture, art and creativity as key to social justice work because these elements create opportunities for people marginalized from other spheres of influence such as law, politics and business to use their own unique perspectives to gain power, representation and real political change. But we knew creativity wasn’t enough. Training and organization is key. Our decade of experience and research has evolved into theory, curricula, and programs for activists and artists to fully understand how to effectively deploy artistic activism methodologies and win campaigns.

We aim to work where we’re needed most and ten years later we have trained and mentored over 1500 artists and activists around the world across a range of issues. We’ve worked with avant-garde artists in Russia and art students in public High Schools in NYC, undocumented youth immigration activists in South Texas and Sex Work advocates in South Africa, Muslim-American activists in New York, Iraq War Veterans in Chicago, and mothers of incarcerated youth in Houston. We’ve worked on state corruption with artists from the Western Balkins and West Africa, making tax laws more just in Massachusetts, and expanding access to healthcare for marginalized communities in East Africa and across Eastern Europe. And more.

We’ve advised and trained arts and social justice organizations and the supporting funders on the best practices of combining arts and activism. We help staff and members of organizations like Open Society Foundation, Greenpeace, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philanthropy New York, and others understand how to promote and support high-quality artistic activism projects, artworks and campaigns.

Through innovative research and providing free resources we’ve helped build, sustain, and develop the field of artistic activism. We’ve built a user-generated database of case studies (at actipedia.org), produced a podcast on using pop culture for progressive politics, provided a webinar series, published interviews with artistic activists, staged street experiments, developed interactive assessment tools, given lectures and served as experts on artistic activism for press, governmental and non-governmental bodies, and published widely on artistic activism theory and practice. We have built a global network of practitioners and researchers in the field of artistic activism and work to institute and sustain the study of artistic activism as an effective and affective practice.

It is our dream to reach every artist in such a way that they instinctively ask: How can I make my work more effective in creating the change I want to see? And to reach every activist, so that they ask: How can I make my action more creative so that it can more profoundly affect my audience? And then provide the resources so these artistic activists can answer their questions for themselves and know how to use their creativity and passion to make lasting impact.

“This is the training I’ve been wanting to take but didn’t know existed.”

School for Creative Activism participant

“This training is life-affirming, it insists that artists can affect actual change, and gives us the tools.”

Art Action Academy participant

“Thank you. I have watched every episode… Grateful for what you are teaching. Better than any class I took in grad school.”

Center for Artistic Activism Webinar viewer

Who we are

Rebecca Bray
Rebecca Bray

Director

Steve Lambert
Steve Lambert

Director & Co-Founder

Jo Nelson
Jo Nelson

Manager

Stephen Duncombe

Research Director & Co-Founder


Board

Patricia Jerido
Patricia Jerido

Board President

Dipti Desai
Dipti Desai

Board Member

Terry Marshall
Terry Marshall

Board Member

Laura Raicovich
Laura Raicovich

Board Member


Advisory Board

Kenneth Bailey
Kenneth Bailey

Advisory Board

Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Ruskoff

Advisory Board

Marisa Mazria Katz

Advisory Board

Linda Sarsour
Linda Sarsour

Advisory Board

Aaron Hughes
Aaron Hughes

Advisory Board

Beka Economopolous
Beka Economopoulos

Advisory Board

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

Advisory Board

Keri Smith
Keri Smith

Advisory Board

Larry Bogad
Larry Bogad

Advisory Board

Jacques Servin
Jacques Servin

Advisory Board

Rev. Michael Ellick

Advisory Board

Andrew Boyd
Andrew Boyd

Advisory Board

Marlene Ramirez-Cancio
Marlène Ramírez-Cancio

Advisory Board

Phineas Baxandall

Advisory Board

Salette Gressette

Advisory Board


Friends and Supporters

Organizations who have supported our work

  • A Blade of Grass
  • Compton
  • David Rockefeller Foundation
  • Eyebeam
  • Garcia Family Foundation
  • Golden Artist Colors and it’s Employee Owners
  • Hurtubise Family Fund
  • Kathleen Sherrerd Charitable Trust
  • LUSH Charity Pot
  • Monasse Foundation
  • National Endowment of the Arts
  • Open Society Foundations
  • Pacific Foundation
  • Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation
  • Satisfactory Foundation

Organizations we’ve worked with

  • A Blade of Grass
  • Atlantic Foundation
  • Beautiful Trouble
  • Center for Story Based Strategy
  • Compton
  • Creative Time
  • David Rockefeller Foundation
  • Design Studio for Social Intervention
  • Greenpeace
  • Intelligent Mischief
  • Not An Alternative
  • Public Defender Association
  • Treatment Action Group
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
  • The Washington Heights Corner Project
  • Yes Lab

Individual Donors

Scott Oliver

Sean and Nancy O'Neill

elizabeth felicella

Hope Clark

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Nancy Nowacek

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Joseph MacKenzie

Maureen Milton

Barry Synoground

Eryn Rosenthal

Eryn Rosenthal

Cheryl Lewis

Ingrid Koch

Martha Loughridge

Shelley Leopold

Robert Ransick

Craig Schwanfelder

Laura Allcorn

Rita Lambert

Lea Seigen Shinraku

Jonathan Cohrs

Nan Schwanfelder

DIANE KARP

Ida Benedetto

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Naa Oyo Kwate

Lora DiFranco

Malaquías & Lezlie Salkowitz Montoya

Terry Sweeney

Prerana Reddy

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Dan Weise

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jim tindall

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Jason Tester

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gregory giannis

Jonathan Leland

Mechelle Rene

Deborah Fisher

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Laura Raicovich

Terry Marshall

Dipti Desai

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Ellen Rogers

Robert Daniel

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bianca bob miller

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nathan santry

John N

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Jamie Wilkinson Jamie Wilkinson

Bryn Orum

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Melanie Cohn

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Jo Nelson

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miriam songster

Katie Stevens

Laura Ferejohn

Patti Vick

Meredith Flynn

Weeda Hamdan

Cynthia Groya

Keri Smith

Catalina Diaz

Kate Gilbert

Lina Cherfas

Robert Ransick

MICHAEL MACDONALD

Philip Ugelow

Rachel Reid

Terry Marshall

Jo Nelson

Zeph Fishlyn

Kevin Hermann

Ida Benedetto

Laura Raicovich

Carole Mathey

douwe rademaker

Dipti Desai

Patricia Jerido

Anthony Lanzillo

Beverly Naidus

Joseph Brinkman

Mushon Zer-Aviv

Jakob Lund

Hilary Robinson

miriam songster

Scott Fitzgerald

Ivan Askwith

Ellen Rogers

Theodore Dawson

Rachel Karp

Olga Tsoudis

Chase Carter

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Karen Trommer

Caitlin & Misha Caitlin & Misha

George Perlov

Nancy O'Neill

Eric Olson

Amanda Mulcahy

Mengnan Wu

Nancy Adams

Brian Kasher

Angela Miskis

Amanda Wiles

Edwar Hong

Mahayana Landowne

Melle van den Berg

Leslie Birch

Ker Smith

Rebecca Bray

Steve Lambert

Cecilia Lim

Diane Karp

james tindall

Sebastian Uribe

Eve Mosher

elizabeth duncombe

Linda Stabler

Joey Juschka

Federico Hewson

MARGARET MCCARTHY

Mark Alston-Follansbee

Jonh Blanco

Eliz Corbett

James Shuman

Lara Schenck

Steve Lambert

Steve Lambert

N.D. Paoletta

Eric Olson

Steve Lambert

Jon Sewell

Zoe Barracano

Salette Gressett

Karen Deaver

Kohl Sudduth

Carole Arnold

Denise Brown

Joseph DeLappe

Deborah Fisher

Jordan Tynes

Ida Benedetto

Laura Perna

Lina Bassarsky

Laura Raicovich

Lynn Frost

gregory sholette

Deborah Weinreb

David Hart

Philip Ugelow

Mary Clare Rietz

Phineas Baxandall

Prerana Reddy

Lora Lumpe

Peder Anker

Melanie Cohn

Ryan Schwartz

Alan Irwin

Eric Corriel

Catherine Burgess

Jo Nelson

Jo Nelson

Sean Mahan