What is “Art & Social Change”?

Many artists today are deeply committed to making work that addresses pressing social issues and changes the way we perceive the world. While some artists use traditional forms of visual, literary, or performing arts to make work that comments on, responds to, or advocates for the need for change, others are exploring new forms of “social practice” that engages communities in an interactive exchange. In the latter category, an artwork might take the form of a store, a garden, a meal, a website, a street performance, a story exchange, or an urban planning project. Socially engaged art can ignite outrage and demands for change, and/or provide a platform for reflection, collaboration, and building community. It can focus on the residents of a single city block, or reach out to a global audience.

The Challenge

The challenge for this category is to develop an innovative art projects that meaningfully engage with issues of advocacy, justice, and community-building. The projects may use any art form—visual/conceptual art, photography, new media, video, dance, theater/performance art, music, creative writing, or other forms. Art must be central to the project, and the proposal must reflect an informed understanding of the particular art form(s) being used, as well as of the communities being served.

Examples of proposals that would fit into this category include (but are not limited to):

  • Development of an after school expressive arts program that aims to provide a safe space and creative outlet to elementary school students who live in under-resourced communities.
  • Production of a documentary that raises awareness about public health consequences, detrimental social impact, and cost of imprisonment.
  • Development of a community garden that seeks to build community relationships in diverse neighborhoods.


The “Art & Social Change” category is open to all matriculated students across the 10-campus University of California system, as well all matriculated students from Makerere University.

Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.   For additional information about general contest rules, timing and how to apply, please refer to the Contest Application Requirements.

Past Winners

Amplify Impact

Amplify Impact

Responsive City Lights: Urban Streets as Public Spaces (UC Berkeley)

Responsive City Lights: Urban Streets as Public Spaces (UC Berkeley)

AfroArt East Africa: Artist Stories (UC Berkeley)

AfroArt East Africa: Artist Stories (UC Berkeley)

More Winners


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