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Arts for Social Change Jam 2018

Apply Today!

We invite you to the 2018 Arts for Social Change Jam, a creative gathering for people working at the intersection of arts and social change, to come together; share our challenges and breakthroughs; nurture ourselves; support and inspire each other; explore our identities as artists, activists and whole people; figure out ways to be more financially sustainable; find intersections for future collaborations; and build a more resilient network of artist-activists (artivists).


When and where is the Arts for Social Change Jam?

Monday, June 18 to Saturday, June 23 — at a beautiful retreat center, in the Santa Cruz mountains, California, about 75 minutes from the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is the Arts for Social Change Jam?

YES! Jams have been happening since 1999. YES! collaborates with other like-hearted peers around the world to co-create Jams where diverse visionaries and social change-makers combine their inspirations and skills to create something greater than the sum of their parts.


The Jam works on 3 three levels:

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  1. On the personal level, it is an open space for participants to reflect on our life journeys and what makes us who we are today. It is an opportunity to deepen our purpose, ask meaningful questions, eat nourishing food, unlearn our fears and blocks, access our hearts, and open our minds to move more boldly in the world.
  2. On the interpersonal level, we come together to share our cultures, our creativity, our collaborative spirits, our stories and our struggles so we can deepen in our understanding of, and connection to, each other.
  3. On the systemic level, we become clearer about the importance of our work in the world and its potential for even deeper, more meaningful impact.


“Thank you for bringing together such a diverse and thoughtful group of souls with so much to give and so willing to receive. This experience has allowed me to open up and release years of gunky emotions that were consuming energy and getting in the way of my growth. To be given the opportunity to build such a community was new to me and I will never forget the time I spent here.”

– Jose Cortez, 21, Multi-Disciplinary artist and student at Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, MA


arts jam 2015_150708_4883_AeronMillerPhotoEvery Jam is an open space for the gifts and needs of the people that show up to emerge. When a number of Jam alumni hosted Arts for Social Change Jams in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, we explored some of the following questions. This year, we anticipate deepening into them and adding yours!

  • What is my story as an artist?
  • How are we to be sustainable and valued for our artistic gifts?
  • What does success look like for artivists? Where am I challenged as an artivist? What does it even mean to be an artivist?
  • How do we collaborate as artivists across mediums, modalities, and issue focuses?
  • How do we create an enduring support network of people using their creative passions for social change?
  • How do our diverse identities relate to us as artists and as activists, and how do we build bridges across those identities with each other?
  • What feels like the purpose and value of artist-activists in these particular times?


“I attended my first Jam in 2006 and my life was changed… This Arts Jam was just as transformational. I feel like I’ve been to the mountaintop. Once again I had the honor of meeting diverse souls who shared my calling – Artivism! I leave this experience rejuvenated and grounded. I was given space to think, to plan, to question, to create and release.”

– Monica Raye Simpson, 34, Executive Director, Sister Song, Atlanta, Georgia

Who comes to the Arts for Social Change Jam?

Because we seek to bring together as diverse a group of people as possible we are looking for a range in:


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  • Artistic Modalities: Musicians, Dancers, Visual Artists, Filmmakers, Creative Facilitators, Writers, etc.
  • “Artist-ship” (leadership, from ‘person on the ground’ to ‘director’ and ‘founder’)
  • Years of experience (from ‘a couple years into the journey’ to ‘been at it for a good part of your life’);
  • Issue or work-focus (i.e. community media, local economies and globalization, indigenous issues, education, food sovereignty, cultural regeneration, interfaith, health and well-being, ecology, youth, sustainable living, human rights, etc.)
  • Identity and world view (i.e. class, ethnicity, race, religion, culture, sexuality, age, etc.)


“I could not have asked for a more nurturing and inspiring group… Thank you for creating a safe space for so many voices to speak their hopes, passions, struggles, pain and shame… I believe the Jam was a micro example of what should be possible at a macro level: nurturing, slow pace, warmth, abundant love and affection.”

– Shanti Ganesh, 41, PhD, research on creativity and resilience, UC Berkeley, California


Who is organizing and facilitating the 2018 Arts for Social Change Jam?

We are lucky to have an amazing team of organizers and facilitators for this year’s Jam:


Austin Willacy is a veteran member of The House Jacks, a 5-man all vocal band with whom he has produced 10 full-length albums and completed multiple world tours. For the past 18 years, Austin has directed ‘Til Dawn, Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group that empowers youth to find their voices in many ways.  Austin is also an award-winning singer/­songwriter with 4 CD’s and 2 EP’s to his name.  His music is soulful and raucous, tender and comic.  Austin’s music has been featured on “The Sing Off”, “Road Rules”, an Australian ad campaign and three feature film soundtracks.  He’s appeared in Rolling Stone and has performed with icons such as Bonnie Raitt and up and coming artists like Jem, Vienna Teng, Rachael Yamagata and Amos Lee.  He’s an organizer and facilitator for YES! and a former board member for Rainforest Action Network.  He even has a side career in soundalike singing voiceovers for games including Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution, Austin is a renaissance man. But, who cares about all that? Because what really matters is what Bonnie Raitt told him, “You can really F*ckin sing!”


IMG_6044If Nandita’s background were a dance, it might look like the jitterbug; all over the floor, sometimes upside down, yet always full of passion. Her need for creativity, heart for community, and insistence on impact has weaved her through nonprofits, schools, community art spaces, step teams, and the delightful terrains of others’ imaginations. She spent the last few years as a teacher in schools for under-resourced children in Boston and India, as a curatorial assistant at Elsewhere Museum, and as a community manager for Idealist.org. She now teaches independently in New York City while working on her writing, dance, artivism, and on being a whole, true, loving human. Nandita is deeply invested in the ways that art, healing, belonging, justice, empowerment, and innovation intersect. Through her work, she aims to sink further into those intersections in order to advocate for them in the social sector.


gino pastori-ng headshotGino Pastori-Ng was born and raised in Oakland, California, a city that provided profound life lessons on culture and social justice. The powerful connection between the former and the latter was illuminated throughout his childhood at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.  His formal education took place at UC Santa Cruz, where walks through the forest cultivated a passion for environmental stewardship, and a summer abroad in Barcelona inspired an insatiable appetite for global exploration.  After completing a B.A. in psychology, Gino spent two years in South America and Asia, teaching English, learning Spanish and Portuguese, attempting to learn Mandarin, and photographing everything in between.  Back in his hometown, he supported the launch of a new elementary school in East Oakland and educated thousands of California voters about environmental action before finding his purpose in youth social entrepreneurship.  Based on the belief that the people most impacted by the problems are the ones best equipped to create innovative and sustainable solutions, he co-founded Youth Impact Hub Oakland, as the first co-working space for youth-led innovation in a global network of over 90 Impact Hubs. Youth Impact Hub Oakland has funded and launched over 50 youth-led social enterprise projects since its inception.  Gino is a tree hugging, hip-hop artist and aspiring yogi striving to find creative ways to unite his passions for social justice, mindfulness, environmental awareness and youth development to inspire the next generation.


IMG_1091Annie-Rose London draws together the fields of sustainable design, community arts, and social justice through education, coaching and non-profit management. She recently found out her creative medium may be described as Social Practice. How bout that! She has called herself a dancer, an actress, a burlesque clown, a ritualist, an arts educator, a non-profit leader, an activist, a healer – today she calls herself happy to meet you. Annie-Rose is currently on sabbatical, facilitating InterPlay and practicing her bass guitar. She has worked as the executive director of Berrett-Koehler Foundation, community arts educator with Eden Village Camp, O.U.R. Community Association and Ecovillage, CityArts! For Youth, and founded the community dance organization BUME (Brown University Movement Experiments).


Kate Morales is a learner-artist, storyteller and visual architect. Early in life Kate blew across the world from the Blue Ridge mountains to the Himalayas, a little seed that picked up strains of resistance and resilience along the journey and now finds themselves asking the wind again where to plant themselves next.  As a political artist, graphic recorder and visual facilitator, they are passionate about illustrating ideas and deeply believe that artistic practices support a world in which our movement spaces are able to address the complex challenges of our time with increasing creativity, collaboration and strategic design. Kate is also a member of an emergent network of global leaders who are experimenting with remembering, reimagining and rebuilding learning spaces outside of institutions. Kate’s day to day is informed by capoeira, permaculture, building homespaces with rebel family, and being queer – politically and otherwise.


 “This work is so needed in these times. Bringing levity to the misery, courage to face the fears, love to confront the hate…these tools are what the world needs now more than ever, especially those of us trying to change it.”

– Jayeesha Dutta, 37, Multi-Disciplinary artists,  Cultural Organizer and Entrepreneur, Mind Power Collective, New Orleans, LA



Location, Travel and Costs of Attending

arts jam 2015_150709_0653_AeronMillerPhotoThe Arts for Social Change Jam will take place at the Ben Lomond Quaker Center, near Santa Cruz, CA. Participants will share rooms in doubles and triples, and delight in delicious and nutritious primarily vegetarian food for the Jam, prepared by Jocelyn Jackson of JUSTUS Kitchen.


Travel costs are the responsibility of the participants, though we will help in arranging carpools from the Bay Area and nearby airports, like San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.


The tuition for the program is $850 which breaks down into $425 for lodging, food, and local transport and $425 for program (materials, childcare, stipends for organizers and facilitators).


We never want money to be a barrier in participating in a Jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend.
 Some partial scholarships and work trades may be available. We also can create a monthly payment plan that works for you. Additional donations above the event price are welcome and help us provide scholarships to support the broad spectrum of participation on which this event thrives (they are also tax-deductible).


If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to write to us at <artandsocialchangejam[at]gmail.com>

APPLY today!


We cannot wait to JAM with you!

Austin, Gino, Annie-Rose, and Nandita


Arts for Social Change Jam 2015 Participants

Participants from other Jams sharing their experience…

“I love the dear friendships and network of support that have been with me since the first Jam I attended in 2001. The people I met at Jams have become advisors, board members, funders, collaborative partners, and among my closest friends… I appreciate the safe space created at Jams that allows each person to take risks at their own pace and in doing so empower one another to take greater risks in our own lives and work.”

– Kavitha Rao, 35, Cofounder of Common Fire Foundation, Tivoli, New York


“Because art might be the most powerful healing force we have, along with its partner, love, I am massively grateful as an artist to have had this chance to discover, network, brainstorm new work, heal old wounds, meet amazing talent who shared their big brains, courageous hearts and powerful gifts every day.”

– Ruth Kirschner, 69, Playwright, San Francisco, CA


“(The Jam was) a time to question, pull off masks, center myself, be inspired, and love. I have never been surrounded by so many incredible young people who live and breathe their radical center. I felt gently and safely yet firmly and fiercely moved through an experience of reconnection with myself and a community of social changemakers for justice. The Jam brought me into focus for myself and the work I am doing in the world.”

– Lisl Schoepflin, 24, Co-founder, Santa Fe Museum of Languages, Santa Fe, NM


Graphic by Nancy Margulies