Introducing the Art for Social Change Network (ASCN)

The Art for Social Change Network (ASCN): A New Canadian National Community-Engaged Arts Network

Led by community-engaged arts organizations acting as regional hubs, ASCN is designed to connect and support hundreds of arts for social change (ASC) organizations and independent artists across Canada. The ASC sector in Canada and around the world works in service to the needs of diverse communities through artmaking, new forms of dialogue, and partnerships with local non-arts organizations.

We aim to:

  • Build bridges between diverse communities of practice, including those in both rural and municipal settings;
  • Promote and support local and national initiatives including exchanges and dialogues, advocacy, artist exchanges, professional development and national gatherings; address the challenges of inclusion, equity and diversity.
  • Nurture engagement and participation in community-engaged arts, specifically in the development of partnerships within the sector and with non-arts change sectors such as those focused on environmental, health and social justice and decolonization challenges;
  • Provide connections with scholars working in community-engaged arts research.

What is Art for Social Change (ASC) and why does it matter?

When people make art collectively about what matters to them, new insights, dialogue and actions for change become possible. We passionately believe in the untapped potential of inclusive, arts-infused practices to build and support healthy, sustainable, and more just communities. We believe that these practices nourish expression, dialogue, visioning and empowerment, all critically important for change that needs to happen, especially now. Our beliefs are founded on a substantial worldwide body of evidence that demonstrates the work’s positive impacts at individual, community, and systems change levels. As these approaches become more integrated into a wide range of change agendas, the work will reach many more Canadians, enhancing social cohesion, social and environmental justice, wellbeing, and providing new solutions to often-complex challenges.

Who are we?

Presently hosted by Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP) and the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC), ASCN is led by a Steering Committee whose members are:

Alberta: Calgary Arts Development, Calgary,
British Columbia: International Centre of Art for Social Change, Vancouver,
Manitoba: Art City, Winnipeg,
New Brunswick: Multicultural Association of Fredericton, Fredericton,
Newfoundland & Labrador: First Light, St. John’s,
Labrador Creative Arts Festival, Labrador,
Northwest Territories: Northern Arts and Culture Centre, Yellowknife,
Nova Scotia: Wonder’neath Art Society, Halifax,
Youth Art Connection, Halifax,
Ontario: ArtBridges/ToileDesArts, Toronto,
Prince Edward Island: The River Clyde Pageant, New Glasgow,
Quebec: National Theatre School of Canada, Montreal,
Saskatchewan: Common Weal Community Arts, Regina and Saskatoon,
Yukon: Nakai Theatre, Whitehorse,

What are our current projects?

  • Creation of an Indigenous-directed arts centre program;
  • Youth-created multidisciplinary theatre reflecting histories of their territory;
  • Mapping of Art for Social Change (ASC) organizations;
  • Mentorships of artists and community-based organizations;
  • A youth arts response to the National Day of Reconciliation;
  • Collection of stories about the state of community-engaged arts now;
  • Series of stakeholder roundtables on the role of artist residencies;
  • Decolonization of a former church, now an arts centre, through community-engaged artmaking;
  • Development of video documentation skills with theatre-making in remote communities;
  • A survey of new digital strategies developed during the pandemic.

SAVE THE DATE: On January 25 – 27, 2022, ASCN will offer its first national, online public gathering. Art for Social Change NOW will explore perspectives and questions through dialogues, presentations, and reports from across Canada. More information to come! Sign up to our ICASC newsletter to stay connected.

Find out more here:

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