Arts for Social Justice

Program Sponsor: Ontario Trillium Foundation
Learning MaterialArts for Social Justice Resources

The Arts for Social Justice (ASJ) program is a three-year initiative that aims to promote the arts as catalysts to tackle social issues in society. It does this through high school workshops and emerging artists residencies.

In the ASJ High School program, VIBE Arts partners professional artists of two different disciplines, to deliver idea-led workshops in Toronto high schools. Students produce collaborative, community directed and generated artworks, that address an injustice or inequality that the youth are passionate about and would like to act upon. These projects provide an opportunity for youth to gain artistic experience and expertise from professional artist facilitators. Youth also develop a strong sense of agency by strengthening and amplifying their artistic voices and exploring oppressions and injustices through a creative advocacy lens, which focuses on personal action, systemic change and solutions.

ASJ residencies ask VIBE Arts emerging artists to bring forth a social justice issue they want to explore, select an art medium, and a relevant and unexpected public location where the art-making will happen. These residencies are intended to engage the public with contemporary art and artists while providing the emerging artist with a platform to raise awareness and mobilize change. Residencies have taken place in police stations, Salvation Army Stores, Community Centers, and empty storefronts, and have tackled issues of shadeism, homelessness, consumerism in fashion, and police-community relations.

The following resources have been put together to provide you with information on social justice and the arts, so that you may introduce social justice and activist art projects in your own classroom or unexpected community location.

Learning material

Racial Inequality and Arts Education
Gender Issues and Arts Education
Indigenous Knowledge and Arts Education
Ability, Inclusion and Arts Education
Environmental Issues and Arts Education

Arts for Social Justice Resources

Organizations and Resources for Social Justice in Education

Educator Resources  – Facing History

Canadian Civil Liberties Association – Education Trust (CCLET)

Education resources for High Schools – Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust

Education resources for High Schools – Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust

Teacher Resources – Hexagon Project

Organizations and Resources for Social Justice in the Arts

Art and Social Justice Working Group – Vera List Centre for Art and Politics

The Hexagon Project

Ontario Arts Council – A Community Engaged Art Workbook

International Centre for Art and Social Change – Report on Art for Social Change in Canada 2016

Image and Media Galleries

Feminist Art Base from the Brooklyn Museum

These are the Artists of the Civil Rights Movement

54 Musicians for Social Justice 

Artists as Activists: Pursuing Social Justice – Huffington Post article


Art and Social Change – PBS Learning Media

How Art Creates Social Change in 5 TED Talks

Powerful Art Activism – TED Playlist