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.


Have a passion for the arts? Want to do something meaningful with them on our campus or in the community at large? Struggling with figuring out how to find the money to do so? WELL, we're currently accepting applications to support the creation of projects, programs, presentations and events, both on and off campus, that use a performing or visual art form to foster dialogue and action in the community around social justice topics.

The deadline for proposals for ASJ Grants is 5p.m. Friday, November 11, 2016.

Download ASJ Partnership Program Application

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?”

Partnership Program

The ASJ partnership program supports students, faculty, and  staff by supplying the means and opportunity to be a catalyst for change.

HAPA CUP OF SUGAR-Combating Racism through Theatre

Marissa Martinez '16, a senior undergraduate here at SCU at the time, wrote and produced this theatrical production that was shown in the Fess Parker Studio Theatre November 18-19 2015. She tackled issues of identity in a story where her main character finds pride and challenges in being "Hapa" or biracial. Through the support of her family, friends, and community, she navigates all she learns and ends up finding a confidence in herself.


An SCU initiative founded by SCU Alumna Katie Fitzgerald '09 to implement a performing and visual arts program in the village of Villa Catalina, Nicaragua. It promotes social justice through arts education. Students spend a week dancing with, teaching, and learning from youth in the village during the SCU spring break between Winter and Spring quarters.


The department of music presented this musical exploration of the 192 countries in the United Nations at the time to celebrate 70 years of the UN's existence. Each piece makes a political or environmental statement about each country.

Visiting Artists

ASJ brings professional artists to campus and aims to enrich the educational experience found at SCU by educating, encouraging, and engaging the SCU community in dialogue.


This annual event brings together the art of music, talented and passionate musicians, and social justice concepts together in one exciting series of events. The most recent festival was hosted January 27-28 2016 through collaboration among the Department of Music, Center for Arts and Humanity Salon, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Tim'm West, poet, performer, and activist was the featured guest artist that year who presented a talk as well as his insight into the 2005 documentary Pick up the Mic in which he was heavily featured.

Community Outreach


SCU Presents received a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for 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.