Student Chapter launches this fall at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University_Student ChapterwSanta Clara ASTEP student chapter members!

 

For the past several years, ASTEP has worked closely with the Social Justice and the Arts Program at Santa Clara University so we’re excited that the students there have officially created Santa Clara ASTEP, an ASTEP Student Chapter. Led by Co-Presidents Nick Manfredi and Tennyson Jones, the student chapter will focus on organizing the pre­-existing spirit of artist ­activism on campus into compassionate engagement with the Santa Clara and San Jose communities.

“When Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Programs, visited the Santa Clara campus last year, he sparked a new way of thinking for the theatre and dance artists on campus. Located just minutes away from San Jose, a city with over 15% of its population living in poverty, Santa Clara University and its artist ­activists are called to the ASTEP mission.” — excerpt from the Santa Clara ASTEP application

When asked what they plan to do, they shared the following:

  • To engage the Santa Clara University Community in active dialogue about the greatest needs of the world beyond our campus.
  • To locate communities, especially of students and children, who are not able to benefit from artistic engagement.
  • To confront the realities of social issues such as poverty, substance abuse, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, gang violence, and teen pregnancy in our extended community through creative engagement and arts-­based action.




Discussing the artist’s role as citizen with the Justice and the Arts Initiative at Santa Clara University

By: Mauricio Salgado, Director of Domestic Programs

From April 16-April 21 2012, I had the honor of being an artist in residence with the Justice and the Arts Initiative (JAI) at Santa Clara University. For the fifth year, JAI Co-directors and SCU Dance faculty members, Kristin Kusanovich and Carolyn Silberman (pictured left), invited me to connect with their community, which seeks to create an intellectual frame of reference for examining and fostering artistic processes that are critically bound to issues of social justice, and to support practices and methods of developing artist-activists at SCU. As usual, the experience was uniquely invigorating! Aside from the workshops I presented, I witnessed performances affirming the power of art and many one on one conversations considering the artist’s role as a citizen.

On my first morning there, I witnessed SCU’s production of “What Strangers May Know,” a play commemorating the 32 victims of the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. The outdoor event involved  76 members of the SCU community ( students, staff, alums and faculty members), focusing on 32 separate one act plays memorializing each of the victims. Aside from immersing myself in the 32 stories, I also found myself reflecting on the culture of mourning; a thought that I continued to explore while visiting class reflections and in personal conversations with students and faculty. From the beginning, I found myself enlivened by a community that is processing profound social issues.

The next day, I led the first of two workshops exploring the empathic process and its use in community development. About 40 students participated in the workshops, where we also discussed ASTEP’s practice of using Arts Education to develop empathy in students. Most importantly, the workshops provided a space for students to consider what it means to pursue justice for the oppressed and impoverished, and how artist activists should prepare for that pursuit.

While at SCU, I also attended the 2012 Bannan Fellow Lecture by Dr. Maeve Heaney. Entitled, “Beauty and Beast; the role of the arts in Jesuit higher education,” the performance landed the importance of the arts in higher education in order to broaden intellectual capacity. I specify that the event was more of a performance than a lecture, because it included scenes, music, dance pieces, and painting. As Maeve demonstrated, singing about beauty lands the point more effectively than speaking about it – and if so, it is equally more effective at relating social injustice.

As happens each time I visit SCU, I left inspired to deepen my own understanding and pursuit of Justice and eager to relate the stories that moved me. I left ready to take the next step in helping artists strive to end poverty.