Arts and Social Justice

From 2008 until 2015, the Arts and Social Responsibility Project sowed the seeds for pairing the arts with social justice issues. Times have changed. The need for social engagement has only become more urgent. Taking lessons from the earlier programs, we help promote new initiative that actively engage the arts in collaborative work across campus with a mission for humanitarian and justice issues.

Past programs and projects included the Boston College chapter of the Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), The Arts and Social Responsibility Project 2008-2015 (ASRP), Music Education Outreach, Climate SmART, as well as special film screenings, lectures, performances and numerous student services projects.

Please contact us if you would like to work with the Arts Council in creating, promoting or collaborating on an arts program that engages with social justice issues. Proposals must demonstrate how art can serve as communication, marketing, activism, education and/or therapy, and seeks to engage students, artists, scholars and faculty along with audience members in the creation of art and performance as a means to shape positive change in today’s society.  

Current programs:
Prison Arts Outreach
Arts and Social Justice Freshman Internship 

Prison Arts Outreach

The Prison Arts Outreach program is an opportunity for Boston College students to share their artistic gifts and talents with incarcerated persons. Whether you’re into sketch comedy, hip hop dancing, or just jamming out on your guitar, Prison Arts Outreach offers a way to share your artistic passion in a meaningful way. As part of the program you’ll meet regularly with BC men and women on campus to develop fun and creative workshops for people in local prisons. During this year long program you’ll travel to the prisons as a group to provide incarcerated persons with an interactive experience in art, dancing, music, and the dramatic arts.

In the past it's been really difficult when you're stuck in a classroom or stuck in a theatre to understand what it means to actually do this type of work. Being able to get out there and learn hands-on, and also get real human feedback about how something that's been really impactful in my life, which is the arts, can now impact other people.
Jennifer Martin '13

Any student, undergraduate or graduate, faculty or staff may apply to be a volunteer. They must be willing to lead or help facilitate workshops in any of the areas of theatre, improvisation, dance, music, art or creative writing. Volunteers must commit to the following activities:

  • Attend the one day educational retreat mid-September.
  • Help organize the themes of each of the workshops. For example, one workshop might focus on teaching step dancing while another may be working on theatre, acting out scenes, or voice lessons.
  • Attend the orientation at the prison where you will be volunteering. 
  • Participate in workshops throughout the semester
  • Tuesday nights:  approximately 5 PM to 8:30 PM including travel time (Need most volunteers here)
  • Sunday afternoons:  approximately 1 PM to 5 PM including travel time
  • Adhere to the dress codes at the prison facility.  Click here for the dress code.
  • Attend the retreat and reflection at the end of the academic year.

 Student volunteers will be chosen through an interview process in early September.

Prison volunteer orientation is necessary to acheive approval for your repeated entrance into the prison facility. It takes about 2 hours, plus travel time. You will be informed well in advance of orientation times and given a form to fill out. You must attend. No exceptions. 

There is also a link to the orientation handbook here.

The Prison Arts Outreach provides access to sustained and quality educational experiences in all the arts to contribute to the positive development of incarcerated persons. Volunteers will plan the topics of the workshops at the retreats in the beginning and end of the year and sign up for participation in a specific workshop. Workshops will be either Tuesday nights or Sunday afternoons for an entire semester. Transportation is provided.