Artistic activism might be fun, creative and cutting edge but if it doesn’t deliver the goods in helping to transform the world, then what good is it? Research into making artistic activism more effective, and affective, is at the core of the Center for Artistic Activism.


We believe in building knowledge from the bottom up, and for nearly a decade we’ve been interviewing artistic activists about their creative tactics, strategies, and how they evaluate their impact.

Favianna Rodriguez with butterfly wings

Read how Favianna Rodriguez transformed a butterfly into a powerful symbol of how “Migration is Beautiful” in our Center for Artistic Activism interviews.

We also think it’s critical that we learn from one another. Five years ago, working with the Yes Men, we developed our open-source, user-generated database of case studies of artistic activism. There are currently more than 2000 examples from around the world with more being added each week.

the "war on smog" protest in china

Learn how Chinese environmentalists used artistic activism to get evade prohibitions against political protest on Actipedia.

Æfficiacy Project

But does it work? How do we know? And what does “working” even mean when we combine the arts and activism?” The Æfficiacy Project is the Center for Artistic Activism’s multi-year, multi-stage investigation into the affective and effective — or Æffective — impact of artistic activism. The project includes everything from a public experiment on the streets of Copenhagen comparing creative and traditional forms of activism to a scholarly white paper on “Assessing the Impact of Artistic Activism” to the development of free tools for evaluating and strengthening the æfficacy of artistic activism projects: our Æffect Planning and Assessment Toolset and the Æffect App.

Based on ten years of practical experience working with artists and activists around the globe and extensive research, including in-depth interviews with over 100 artist-activists, the Æffect App is designed to help artistic activists to plan, strengthen, and assess the æffective impact of their projects. 

Field Studies

In collaboration with the Danish activist-scholar Silas Harrebye, the C4AA staged the first large-scale public experiment comparing the impact of creative vs. conventional forms of activist intervention.

Traditional canvassers vs. farting cows in a public experiment testing creative forms of activism in Copenhagen.

Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions

Artistic activism can learn a lot from popular culture, so that’s why we do research in some pretty odd places: a zumba studio, over brunch, in a mega-church, getting a mani-pedi, or while watching a professional wrestling match. Though our Pop Culture Salvage Expedition Podcast we dive deep into popculture, and discuss its relevance for artistic forms of activism.

The Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions Podcast Art

Discover what artistic activists learn about participation and acceptance by working out to the latest dance exercise craze, Zumba!

Creative Resistance Series

To introduce some of the theories, methods and principles of artistic activism to new audiences we recorded Creative Resistance Podcast Mini-Series covering the basics of Artistic Activism,  Audience, Tactics & Strategies, Context and, of course, Success & Failure.

Creative Resistance Podcast

Explore the basics, or expand your knowledge, of what artistic activism is all about with the first episode on What is Artistic Activism?

Talks, Lectures, Publications

We frequently give lectures and talks and consistently publish our research to build scholarly and popular knowledge about the field of artistic activism.  We’re also always reading and learning from others. Here’s a reading list of some of the authors who have inspired our work here at the Center for Artistic Activism.

Watch Center for Artistic Activism Co-Directors Steve & Steve give a keynote address at the Creative Catalyst Symposium on Art & Social Innovation in Toronto.