Artistic Activism: Connecting Social Activism and Artistic Practice

Over the years, social issue campaigners and activists have employed a variety of marketing and communications efforts to attract public interest to their causes, to varying degrees of success. More recently, activists have turned to the arts for inspiration and as a way to engage audiences, through deep and emotional connections, to bring about change. At the same time, more artists are imbuing their work with social and political messaging to advance the issues they feel most passionate about.

There is a growing body of work, and growing interest among grant makers, about the intersection of arts and activism. This two-panel session, organized in collaboration with Philanthropy New York and New York Grantmakers in the Arts, will provide an opportunity to develop common definitions, best practices, and methods of assessing impact.


Introduction from co-directors of Center for Artistic Activism

  • Stephen Duncombe is professor of media and culture at New York University.
  • Steve Lambert is associate professor of new media at SUNY Purchase.

Panel 1: Marrying arts with campaigns for social change

  • Rashida Bumbray is the senior program manager of Arts Exchange.
  • Deborah Fisher is executive director of A Blade of Grass.
  • Katy Rubin is founding executive director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC.
  • Nato Thompson is artistic director of Creative Time.
  • Brett Davidson (moderator) is director of media and narratives for the Open Society Public Health Program.

Panel 2: The impact and evaluation of artistic activism

  • Jan Cohen-Cruz is director of field research at A Blade of Grass.
  • Pam Korza is co-director of Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts.
  • George Perlov is principal of George Perlov Consulting.
  • Rise Wilson is director of philanthropy at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
  • Stephen Duncombe (moderator) is professor of media and culture at the New York University.
Date: March 30, 2017
Time: 9:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.
Rashida Bumbray, Jan Cohen-Cruz, Brett Davidson, Stephen Duncombe, Deborah Fisher, Pam Korza, Steve Lambert, George Perlov, and Katy Rubin
Sponsored by: