Arts for Social Justice

Art. Justice. Action.

Santa Clara University's SCU-Presents Arts for Social Justice Program Recognized Nationally with NEA Grant Matching Grant Requires Community Support.

Arts for Social Justice is a collaborative, interdisciplinary initiative whose mission is to raise awareness about critical issues addressing the human condition, through the creation of and participation in a wide variety of art forms. Our goal is to support the creation of programs, both on and off campus, that use an art form to foster dialogue and action in the community.

The goal of Arts for Social Justice is to raise awareness of social justice and engage SCU students in topics that address the human condition—ranging from homelessness to racial inequality and social/economic inequality—and bridge the gap between life at SCU and other communities.

Ultimately, we are asking the question, “How can I be a catalyst for change?”


SCU Presents received a prestigious grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Our project, entitled The Creative Project | El Proyecto Creativo, was co-designed by Santa Clara University Professor Kristin Kusanovich and SCU Presents Director Butch Coyne. This project develops and presents interactive, multidisciplinary performing and visual arts to schools and in the community. Participants experience and create their own original work for an audience. The Creative Project included programs titled Street Canvas, Performing Our Environment, and Poesía en Movimiento, which addressed specific social justice issues such as racism, homelessness, immigration, the environment and bullying.

ASJ sees this grant as a catalyst towards dialogue about the power of the arts to engage students. “Receiving this prestigious national grant gives credence to the idea that the arts can inspire students to affect positive change across a broad range of pressing social justice issues. Our next challenge is to see this grant matched by the community at large.” (Butch Coyne, SCU Presents Director)

NEA Project 1
Poesia en Movimiento

In Poesia en Movimiento dancer Kristin Kusanovich and actor Mauricio Salgado engaged with 4th and 5th grade children in the Thriving Neighbors Initiative program at Washington School to explore Latin American poets and co-create original dances with bilingual narration to convey the themes of the poems such as non/conformity, nature and freedom of expression.

NEA Project 2
Performing Our Environment

In Performing Our Environment, dancer David J. Popalisky and theatre artist Jeffrey Bracco will empower community members to communicate their feelings about their environment. During structured walks, an assessment of the neighborhood in terms of aesthetics, litter, and other variables will inform the creation of dances and found object sculptures.

NEA Project 3
Street Canvas

In Street Canvas, designer Jerald R. Enos and painter Karen B. McNulty will encourage participants to identify economic issues in their neighborhood by drawing and photographing their surroundings, and learning the steps of large scale mural/canvas painting to help educate and influence positive change(s) where they live.