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Center for Arts for Activism

Arts for Activism Arts for Activism are arts that advance the goals of specific organizing campaigns and/or broader struggles for social justice. At YMPJ, Arts for Activism programming prepares youth to become “prophetic voices for peace and justice,” which is a goal of both social justice and youth development.


The arts advance social justice through the creation of radical culture, whether in the form of texts, movement, images, film, music, or performance. The arts:
  • Raise awareness about injustice
  • Humanize issues through emotive and provocative modes of expression
  • Inspire and mobilize those who experience the art
  • Empower and connect those who create the art
  • Build community through the expression of shared experience and tradition
  • Shift power relationships – art changes who has the power to speak about an issue
  • Arts for Activism


    Through engagement with the arts, youth acquire skills that increase employability, encourage creative and critical thinking, enrich academic performance, create a culture of reflection and exploration, foster performance and presentation skills, and provide young people with a sense of purpose and mastery.


    Through the practice of creating art that is socially conscious and rooted in personal experience, the youth learn about justice in a hands-on approach that places them at the center of their learning. Moreover, Arts for Activism programming offers political education that is continuous and broad in scope, beyond the highly specific issues of the Community Building and Organizing Projects (CBOPs) and the short duration of Core Curriculum.


    Arts for Activism is at the core of YMPJ programming: a constant element of the program schedule, like Grace Place, Liberation Hall, CBOP, Organizing Training, etc. Youth arts projects have or may include:
    • Drama
    • Collage & mixed media
    • Photography
    • Spoken Word/ Poetry
    • Creative Writing
    • Graphic Design
    • Video/Film
    • Dance
    • Music
    • Fashion
    • Quilting
    • Cross-stitching
    • Painting
    • Murals
    • Comics
    • Art installations
    • Sculpture
    • Stenciling
    • Silk screening
    • Street theater
    • Puppet shows
    • Zines/ D-I-Y Publishing
    • Blogging
    • Button making
    • Open Mic/ Speak Outs
    These different arts projects offer youth a wide range of opportunities to contribute to the work of YMPJ. Arts for Activism programming allows for youth who have not yet found a way to express themselves or lead in the CBOP structure, to discover their unique creative potential. The goal of these projects is to provide young people with the space to find, explore, and develop their gifts and voice.


    Arts for Activism exist not only as independent projects at YMPJ, but also as a component of campaign strategy. Arts for Activism coordinator(s) work with each CBOP to develop and implement media/arts strategy. Each CBOP will utilize the arts in order to raise awareness and grow grassroots support for the campaign. This practice will ensure that CBOP is project-oriented, creative, and collaborative.

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