USC Arts in Action

Message to USC Faculty

From: Robert Cutietta, Dean, USC Thornton School of Music and USC Kaufman School of Dance; Robin Romans, Associate Vice Provost

August 23, 2018

We are delighted to announce USC Arts in Action, a new program under the Provost’s Arts and Humanities Initiative. Arts in Action supports USC arts activities that facilitate positive social change and enhance our collective quality of life within the communities of Los Angeles. The program will leverage USC’s remarkable strengths in the arts and connect USC students, faculty and community partners to serve the public good. Today, we are excited to invite you to participate through the attached request for proposals (RFP).

In announcing USC’s commitment to confronting 21st Century challenges, Provost Michael Quick declared that USC, as a leading research institution, has a duty to solve the most intractable, multifaceted problems of our time. He appointed steering committees from across the university to lead USC’s response to these daunting issues, including one committee on Engaging Arts for Social Change led by USC’s arts deans and museum directors, and joined by faculty and students across the University.

Artists play an essential role in responding to and resolving society’s most intractable problems. Artists are storytellers through which such problems come to be felt and understood. Artists are mediators who create space for questioning, debate and reconciliation. Their studios, performances, exhibitions, screenings, and compositions are testing grounds for bold new ideas that drive change.

As the first program created under the Arts & Humanities Initiative, USC’s Visions and Voices event series has inspired many thousands of our students to become more aware of the arts’ ability to effect positive change. In addition, a considerable number of faculty, staff and students from across USC are already engaged in innovative arts projects that seek such outcomes, many of whom are international leaders in these areas of practice. Arts in Action challenges us to turn that energy and creativity outward in partnership with the communities with which USC shares its home.

Through Arts in Action, members of the USC community will have the opportunity to become actively engaged in this critical work. It will offer a chance for USC artists to collaborate in meaningful community partnerships and to engage with our neighbors in Los Angeles.

A number of Arts in Action activities are already in development. This fall, we will sponsor two innovative pilot projects. The first pairs USC musicians and designers with the Urban Voices Project (a Skid Row choir comprised of adults who have experienced homelessness). For the second, USC theatre practitioners will partner with the Reform LA Jails Coalition in a series of public performances to raise awareness of prison justice reform. We are also creating a new set of arts education student placement opportunities in partnership with Dornsife’s Joint Educational Project. Arts in Action will continue to grow from this first year of activities, responding to the passions and needs of our faculty, students and community partners.

We invite USC faculty and students to submit preliminary proposals to the inaugural Arts in Action Grants Program for community-based projects that address social issues through artistic practices. Please see the attached RFP for details. We encourage you to forward it to students who might also be interested.

We are thrilled about the possibilities of this new program and encourage you to review the attached RFP and consider submitting a proposal. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.


Dean Robert Cutietta
Associate Vice Provost Robin Romans