The full potential of art exists when it falls in perfect harmony with community engagement.

For nearly a decade, The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Program has helped initiate civic dialogue, address contemporary social issues and engage people in meaningful community-building practices.

The important, topical issues explored by each Creative Catalyst artist illustrate the role that the arts can play in social impact and cultural equity.

During the most recent Creative Catalyst grant cycle, we asked artists and nonprofit organizations to explore social interaction and consider how their work might engage audiences that have historically had less representation within the arts.

Learn more about the artists and projects from 2018-2019 Creative Catalyst grantmaking: Erica BuechnerEvan ApodacaMatt MorrowMaxx Moses, and Thelma Virata de Castro.

As the Americans for the Arts explains, “Many existing systems of power grant privilege and access unequally, and that equity is crucial to the long-term viability of both the arts and culture sector and communities-at-large.”

We recognize the many important efforts of our local arts organizations and artists to engage our community in civic dialogue, and we applaud our 2018-19 Creative Catalyst artists and their sponsor organizations.

In the past year alone, the 2018-19 Creative Catalyst performances and installations brought 1,877 attendees together through 42 public engagements throughout San Diego County.

Tackling Domestic Violence Through Art

One example of such impact can be found in the work of Creative Catalyst artist Thelma Virata de Castro.

Thelma is a Filipino American playwright whose work explores a variety of subjects and styles, such as underserved communities, including immigrants and incarcerated individuals.

Her Creative Catalyst project with Asian Story Theater utilized performance art to broaden multicultural awareness around domestic violence in San Diego’s Filipino community. During the course of the project, Thelma worked directly with individuals closest to the topic of domestic violence, including survivors, family members, law enforcement and legal advocates.

When asked about her work, Thelma noted, “People ask if there is a lot of domestic violence in the Filipino community. I tell them that domestic violence is a problem in every community.”

The stories and conversations from those impacted by domestic violence helped inform Thelma’s script, which was shared with more than 400 people at three events hosted across the region.

Through art, Thelma was able to give a voice to the voiceless and connect the audience to the issue of domestic violence in a safe, intimate setting.

As one participant shared, “Today, I felt vulnerable and strong. Today, I found more hope and a sense of community. Today, I felt liberated knowing that my story, like many other stories in Thelma’s play, was heard.”

Engaging with the Artists

The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Program works to grow the creative economy, advance artist careers and strengthen community engagement by increasing opportunities for San Diegans to experience arts and culture.

Since its inception, the Program has supported more than 45 artist fellows, 30 arts and culture organizations, and engaged over 170,000 community members.

Help strengthen arts engagement in the region by supporting the Creative Catalyst Program.

Support the Creative Catalyst Program