Art for Social Change – Canada-wide research project launch (Judith Marcuse Projects)

5 06 2013

“The directors and staff of Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP) are delighted to announce the launch of a five-year, national research program in art for social change (ASC) in Canada. ASC refers to the broad spectrum of ways in which the arts are used to engage people and encourage positive change.

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through its Partnership Program, Art for Social Change: A Research Partnership in Teaching, Evaluation and Capacity-Building, is “the first large-scale, systemic project of its kind in Canada,” stated Judith Marcuse, the project’s lead researcher and the founder of JMP. “The work we complete and the resources we create will benefit not only artist-researchers, but also individuals and organizations in diverse sectors who are already using arts-based practices in their work for positive change as well as those who are interested in adopting these approaches.”

Sandy Jacobs, the President of JMP’s Board of Directors, added, “We are gratified by the receipt of this grant, which testifies to our long-standing leadership role in this burgeoning field. We are delighted to be part of an extraordinary team that will encourage scholarship and participation in the many ways that socially-engaged arts integrate and celebrate imaginative ways to perceive and act in the world.”

The $2.5 million initiative reflects the burgeoning interest in Canada and around the world in utilizing the arts as powerful and practical vehicles for achieving positive change in communities and many other settings.

Based at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University (SFU), the initiative developed out of the seminal work of the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC), a partnership formed by JMP and SFU in 2008. The team of ten artist/scholars is a “who’s who” of experienced researchers in the field. Joined by 20 individual collaborators and 15 partnering universities and community organizations, the team will map and develop teaching and learning in the field; explore approaches to evaluation; and develop ways to maintain sustainable collaboration between ASC artists and non-arts organizations.

The research program will involve the participation of community members, students and change makers from a wide variety of sectors, including the health and justice systems; civil society, environmental, intercultural, elder and youth-focused organizations; and professionals working in the fields of social innovation, social enterprise and public policy.

Case study projects involving arts-based dialogue, performing, visual arts and social circus, as well as the creation of a learning institute, will enrich both research and the resources to be created. On-line videos, publications, public gatherings, exhibitions and performances will contribute to the work of ASC practitioners while bringing knowledge of this potent and effective form of change work to a wider public.

For more information, please contact: Judith Marcuse at or 604.319.8436.

1. The ICASC/JMP website is at
2. The research team is comprised of lead researcher Dr. Judith Marcuse, Simon Fraser University; and co-researchers Dr. Katherine Boydell, University of Toronto; Dr. Lisa Doolittle, University of Lethbridge; Dr. Lynn Fels, Simon Fraser University; Professor Anne Flynn, University of Calgary; Dr. Michelle LeBaron, University of British Columbia; Devora Neumark, Concordia University; Rachael Van Fossen, Concordia University; and Dr. Annalee Yassi, University of British Columbia

– posted with permission from Judith Marcuse

To read other ArtBridges’ posts about Judith Marcuse Projects, please click here.
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