There should be no dividing line between artistic excellence and social consciousness.

For 59 young artists interested in combing their artistic practice with their pursuit of a better world, ASTEP presented our 2nd annual Artist as Citizen Conference from June 7 – 12, 2015 at The Juilliard School.

At ASTEP, we work with children. We put artists in classrooms around the world to share their passion with kids.

In a larger sense, we’re part of an evolving, nationwide conversation on the role of the artist in society. There are articles published on the subject everyday – the landscape of the arts is changing and so are the opportunities available to artists. Meanwhile, the social emotional skills the arts help to develop are increasingly viewed as essential for success in today’s knowledge-based economy.

The Artist as Citizen Conference is an opportunity for ASTEP to help spread this powerful ideal nationwide — and with it, the remarkable culture of service it represents.

It’s been talked about for years. Innumerable blogs have discussed it. The New York Times recently chimed in. There is a movement afoot. A return to meaning in the arts. A return to impact. As one curator put it, “Marcel Duchamp’s toilet is being returned to the bathroom.”

The Conference is about putting the riches of the first network at the disposal of the second. Its mission is to celebrate, connect, and develop young leaders in the arts by providing them with a transformative artistic and educational experience in the heart of New York City.

Why? Because developing motivated young leaders in communities across America is a way for ASTEP to expand the reach of its mission exponentially.

Which means more kids. Exposed to more art.

Apply to the 2015 Artist as Citizen Conference TODAY!

June 7 – June 12, 2015


The Juilliard School, NYC

The Artist as Citizen Conference aims to identify and support young, motivated artists with a demonstrated capacity to take on leadership positions within their communities. Applicants must be between 18 and 25 years old to apply.

The artist’s specific skill-set can be in any discipline–we welcome applications from actors, dancers, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, administrators, educators, and more.

The application is in three parts — “Basic Info”, “Video Statement” and “Original Work” — each described below and all due by April 22, 2015. You should fill out the Basic Info form first, and then send all supplemental materials to

You’ll receive an official response from regarding your application no later than May 1, 2015.

Check out the Artist as Citizen Conference website for more testimonials and how to apply!

ASTEP + Kennedy Center

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ASTEP is thrilled to partner for a fourth year with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States. ASTEP will be leading two workshops, “Serving and Leading with ASTEP” and “Owning Your Artistic Identity”, and joining a prestigious panel of judges for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. (Check out our 2013 experience!)

Presenting at the eight regions are ASTEP’s incomparable: Abby Gerdts, Ali Dachis, Aaron Rossini, and Alejandro Rodriguez

Serving and Leading with ASTEP

Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) is a New York City based non-profit that provides artists with opportunities to share their passion with underserved kids, in the US and abroad. ASTEP places volunteer artists all over the world and maintains the Future Leaders Network, a support system for young leaders in the arts, which hosts the annual Artist as Citizen Conference at Juilliard each summer and supports the efforts of ASTEP Chapters around the country. Come talk to an official ASTEP representative to find out more about how ASTEP can help you pursue your dreams of changing the world through art.


Owning Your Artistic Identity

What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What could the world use more of? Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) wants to help you locate the perfect intersection between your unique passion and the needs of your community. We’ll veer away from the straight-and-narrow to consider non-traditional career paths, and to help you find what resonates deepest with you in order to use it to shape your life, your art, and the world around you.



We did it! ASTEP’s 1st Annual Artist as Citizen Conference!

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From June 2 – 6, 2014, ASTEP gathered 46 extraordinary young artists in NYC for four days of workshops, special guest speakers, group meals, and artist roundtables. We aimed to celebrate, connect, and develop young leaders in the arts by providing them with a transformative artistic and educational experience—and based on their feedback, we’re confident it was a success!

I meet a lot of people who just talk the talk. It was amazing to be around people who walk the walk. Thank you for an amazing opportunity to collaborate with young artists from around the country. This unity will last a lifetime.”

The workshops provided nourishment and encouragement for me to become a more selfless, more motivated human being of integrity. ASTEP is my new family. Thank you.”

There was a good progression of ideas on artistry, citizenship, and finally how we start putting our own plans in motion…I can never express my thanks enough for this conference – four days have never made such an impact on who I am as a human being/artist/citizen.”

Each participant is now an official Artist as Citizen Fellows, and we are certain that their leadership potential will lead them towards a path of responsible activism. Keep an eye out for information about the 2015 Artist as Citizen Conference!


Now announcing…The 2014 ASTEP Artist as Citizen Conference!

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June 2 – June 6, 2014


The Juilliard School, NYC

The ASTEP Artist as Citizen Conference is a four-day immersive retreat for young leaders in the performing and visual arts who have recognized the power art has to transform communities. The 2014 Conference will draw on ASTEP’s diverse community of supporters, partners and volunteers, as well as on New York City’s incomparable resources, to expose students to professionals in the fields of arts education, applied theater, and social practice art. Application deadline is May 15.*


$300 Participation Fee Includes:

Housing in the Juilliard dorms

NYC MetroCard

Meal Stipend

One Broadway Show

Six Workshops

Three Keynote Speakers

Two Roundtable Discussions

Apply Now!


 *Must be 18-25 years old to apply.
Applications received before May 1 are eligible for scholarship consideration.


Are you interested in our conference but couldn’t make the full four-day immersion work out? Below are three options that might give you an opportunity to participate after all!

1. Full Non-Resident Pass $200
Did you want to commit to the full range of conference activities, but couldn’t stay overnight with us at Juilliard for some reason? The non-resident pass gives you access to all four days of conference activities, from 9 AM to 6 PM, including three wake up sessions, three real talk speakers, six ASTEP workshops, and more. (Housing, meals, and evening entertainments not included.)

2. Single Day Pass $125
Are you leaving town mid-week, or is there one day of conference programming you especially want to take advantage of? A day pass grants you access to all conference activities from 10 AM to 6 PM, and includes all guest artist workshops, real talk sessions, ASTEP workshops, panel and roundtable discussions. (Housing, meals, wake up sessions, and evening entertainments not included.)

3. A La Carte Pass $35
Is there one speaker or event you’ve got your eye on in particular? Though some elements of the conference will remain exclusive to fellows and/or holders of day passes, several of our workshops will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. These include: Real Talk Sessions, the Artist Roundtable on June 3rd, the Citizenship Panel Discussion on June 4th, and several others.

Please contact Davinia Troughton, with your inquiries and interest. Just tell her who you are and which pass you’re interested in, and she’ll be happy to register you and arrange payment accordingly.

Third year partnering with The Kennedy Center!

ASTEP is thrilled to partner for a third year with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States.

ASTEP will be leading two workshops, “Time to Make a Change” and “Living Outside the Box”, highlighting creative ways to use the arts to transform lives and communities. In addition, ASTEP will be joining a prestigious panel of judges for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. (Check out our 2013 experience!)

ASTEP’s presenters at each of the eight regions:

Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of Programs

* Saginaw Valley State University – Region 3 (Jan 7-11)

* Boise State University – Region 7 (Feb 17-21)


Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Programs

* West Chester University of Pennsylvania – Region 2 (Jan 14-18)

* University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Region 5 (Jan 19-25)

* Hyannis, MA – Region 1 (Jan 28-Feb 1)


Ali Dachis, ASTEP Volunteer Artist

* Hollins University – Region 4 (Feb 4-8)


Alejandro Rodriguez, ASTEP Program Coordinator

* Los Angeles Theatre Center – Region 8 (Feb 12-15)

* Centenary College of Louisiana – Region 6 (Feb 25-Mar 1)

Unpacking Home: the power of the arts to impact a social issue

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Over the past four months, ASTEP has been collaborating with the theater professors and students at LaGuardia Community College and Kingsborough Community College on a service-learning project that would highlight the power of the arts to impact the social agenda of a community — homelessness, especially homeless youth.

After a series of ASTEP workshops and trainings, this ensemble of 18 students spent several weeks volunteering at four community organizations that serve individuals and families in transition — WINNYC, Covenant House, Sylvia’s Place, and Charlotte’s Place. They then devised a piece based upon their volunteer experiences, research, and exploration of the meaning of “home”.

“Unpacking Home” culminated in a series of performances from November 6 – 9, 2013 for diverse communities around NYC. There were many powerful moments shared during the show since the piece encouraged the audience to respond to prompts, most poignantly, “what does home mean to you?”.

Thank you to all of the members of the team that made this experience so unique:

Emeka Agada, Luis Alcantara, Joseph Andrade, Anjail Bakeer, Juan Collado, Brittany Candelario, Kaitlin Coffey, Mone’t Fuentes, Morin Golan, Valjean Guerra, Andy Jimenez, Eric Loehr, Viguens Louis, Yuka Taga, Fernando Torres, Max Wardlaw, Cydia White, and ASTEP Volunteer Artists Lili Froelich and Danielle Lencioni. Led by Yosefa Forma, Steven Hitt, Ryan McKinney, and Stefanie Sertich.

We welcome you to the ASTEP Community!

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Actors! Are you interested in doing an Equity Showcase with ASTEP?

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Unpacking “Home”

ASTEP has partnered with La Guardia Performing Arts Center and Kingsborough Community College on a service-learning project that will culminate in an interactive performance on November 6-9, 2013 in NYC. The project is called Unpacking “Home” and will include volunteer experiences at NYC homeless shelters for a cast of 16 artists between the ages of 20-30 years old.

The ensemble will volunteer at partnering homeless shelters in NYC to explore and better understand the meaning of “home” and why we choose to be without it; or what it feels like to have it taken away. The ensemble will then devise a play using material gained from their volunteer experiences.

Ensemble members will co-create the play so ASTEP is recruiting artists who enjoy improvisation and collaboration.

Dates: September 27 – November 9, 2013


  • September – November
  • Location: La Guardia Community College and Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn


  • Tuesday or Wednesday (once a week) in Manhattan and Brooklyn


  • November 6-9, 2013
  • Location: TBD

Audition Workshop:

  • September 19, 2013 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Location: La Guardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Ave, C Building, Room 401, Long Island City, NY. (Last building before the walking bridge to Court Square.)

This is an Equity Showcase contract. Stipend included.

Please email Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP Program Director, at for more details.

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Bring ASTEP to your school!

Cultivate Future Leaders Through the Arts!

Promote the arts for social change on campus while developing leadership skills and connections with a network of professional artists

Download the complete brochure

Since 2003, ASTEP has been cultivating a community of artists who make using the arts a tool to empower youth a primary part of their lives and practice. We would like to invite your school to be a part of this growing community and see first hand the transforming power of the arts.

Through a series of one, two, or three-day workshops, ASTEP will engage students at your school in an exploration of using the creative arts as a tool to support an individual or community:

  • What is Poverty? A discussion focusing on the many perceptions of poverty, how we relate to them, and the role of art in empowering the impoverished.
  • The Artist as Citizen A discussion on the role of the artist in the community and how to be active members
  • Standing at the Intersection of Culture, Community, and Creativity An exploration of how art is used for cross cultural encounter.
  • Creative Pedagogy in Community A focus on best practices and approaches to teaching the arts in a wide spectrum of community settings. Participants will engage in ensemble building techniques, diversity scenarios, activities for setting an environment, and explore.
  • Devising with ASTEP – Participants will create pieces around a common theme, drawing from their own personal experiences and ideas with a few inspiring prompts and techniques for devising.

Workshop Format

  • One-Day Workshop – ASTEP will explore the Artist as Citizen, present our methodology and volunteer opportunities, followed by a Q&A session | $550*
  • Two-Day Workshop – ASTEP will provide two separate workshops, present our methodology and volunteer opportunities, followed by a Q&A session. Interviews for summer volunteer placements can be scheduled | $1100*
  • Three-Day Workshop – ASTEP will provide four or more workshops designed specifically to your curricular needs, present our methodology and volunteer opportunities, followed by one-on-one meetings. In addition, interviews for summer volunteer placements and an ASTEP presentation to the larger student body | $1650*

* Fees do not include the cost of travel. Scholarships are available for qualifying schools

“The Devising with ASTEP workshop was the highlight of my week at KCACTF. Thank you so much for showing me what a strong future exists for artists hoping to help humanity. I know, with whatever I pursue in life, I want to help people. If I am able to help people through something I enjoy, well, there isn’t a better combination!”

– Maria Arvanitakis, Kansas State University