Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

The Singing Bank. Opera Bravissima at Pigeon Park Savings, Fall 2014. Photo: Colin Askey


Here are some organizations and university departments that are involved in innovative community engagement practices. We aim to foster learning exchanges with partners locally, nationally and internationally.

UBC's mission is building respectful relationships between communities and UBC. These relationships are foundational to excellent teaching, learning and research.

Urban Studies program at SFU offers students a broad-based, interdisciplinary graduate education preparing them to understand and address the diverse and interconnected opportunities and challenges facing cities today.

The University of Victoria is proud to partner with the community beyond their campus to make the region and our world a better place to live.

The York University-TD Community Engagement Centre supports the University’s commitment to build a more engaged university by facilitating mutually-beneficial collaborations between York University and the Black Creek community.

Student Activities and Leadership Programs' mission is to enrich and integrate students' leadership and academic experiences in order to educate students to be ethical, socially just, and civically engaged leaders on campus and in their larger communities.

The Service Learning Institute serves as the home of the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) service learning program. 

Tulane University has a long history of community engagement.  Their website highlights and defines the multiple unique community initiatives undertaken by the University.

Concordia is an innovative, urban university committed to being an engaged neighbour and an active community player.

Tufts University has received the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation, a prestigious recognition of the university's deep institutional commitment to civic engagement.

CityStudio is an experimentation and innovation hub for the City of Vancouver where staff, students and community members design and execute projects on the ground. These projects improve our city and enrich our neighbourhoods, making the city more livable, joyful and sustainable.

SFU Surrey - TD Community Engagement Centre offers programming at the Surrey City Centre Library, at SFU’s Surrey campus, and in various communities throughout the South Fraser region. Programs are provided in partnership with community groups to residents from a range of cultural backgrounds and a variety of ages.

Women Transforming Cities advocates for the use of a Gender/Equity Lens on all policies and programming in order to work toward their mission to transform our cities to work for all women and girls, through community engagement, inclusive policies and equitable representation.

The Writers’ Exchange makes literacy exciting and accessible for inner-city kids through free mentoring and creative writing projects. Their vision is that every child will have the literacy skills necessary to access a world where anything is possible.

Access to Media Education Society is a registered charity (est. 1996) based in British Columbia, Canada dedicated to using the media arts to support youth-led community development, encourage peer-based expression and education and promote social change.

Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement is a charity that develops and supports learning communities that help people to collaborate, co-generate knowledge, and achieve collective impact on complex community issues. Their vision is to build a connected force for community change.

Rich Mix is East London’s independent arts venue. It has a three screen cinema showing the latest releases and takes part in a number of independent film festivals. There is also a multitude of flexible performance spaces where they work with both emerging and established artists, and support them to deliver and develop their artistic practice.

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement. CUP projects demystify the urban policy and planning issues that impact our communities, so that more individuals can better participate in shaping them.

Station 20 West is a Community Enterprise Centre (CEC) in the heart of Saskatoon’s west-side core neighbourhoods. It works to reduce poverty and build healthy communities through a collaborative community development approach.

Art & Education was established in New York in January 2006 as a joint venture between e-flux and Artforum. Art & Education reaches an international network of more than 80,000 visual-art professionals and academics on a daily basis through its website and e-mail list.

Queens Museum provides pre-K-12 students with fun learning experiences that integrate in-depth observation and interpretation of art and historical exhibits, and hands-on art-making activities.

Broken City Lab is an artist-led interdisciplinary creative research collective and non-profit organization working to explore and unfold curiosities around locality, infrastructures, and creative practice leading towards civic change.

Jane Addams  Hull-House, Chicago's first social settlement was not only the private home of Jane Addams and other Hull-House residents, but also a place where immigrants of diverse communities gathered to learn, to eat, to debate,
and to acquire the tools necessary to put down roots in their new country.

Daniels Spectrum is a 60,000-square foot community cultural hub at 585 Dundas Street East in the Regent Park neighbourhood. It is the professional home of seven innovative cultural organizations and contains event, performance and exhibition spaces.

BRIC presents contemporary art, performing arts and community media programs that reflect Brooklyn’s creativity and diversity. BRIC also provides resources to launch, nurture and showcase artists and media makers. It advances access to and understanding of arts and media by presenting free and low-cost programming, and by offering education and other public programs to people of all ages.

Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is the premier venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for NYU and lower Manhattan. Since opening in 2003, the 860-seat Skirball Center has been an educational and community building resource, providing NYU's first large-scale, professional performance space on campus.

Les Subsistances is an international laboratory for artistic creation devoted to the performing arts. It is also a place for transdisciplinary creation, experimentation, and dialogue with audiences.

Open Engagement is an international conference and platform to support socially engaged art. The conference mission is to expand the dialogue around socially engaged art, as well as the structures and networks of support for artists working within the complex social issues and struggles of our time.

Creative Time commissions, produces, and presents art that engages history, breaks new ground, challenges the status quo, and infiltrates the public realm while engaging millions of people in New York City and across the globe. They are guided by a passionate belief in the power of art to create inspiring personal experiences as well as foster social progress.

Authentic Indigenous supports Indigenous artists in promoting and supporting authentic Indigenous artworks in the retail and wholesale marketplace. Their mission is to manage the Authentic Indigenous Arts three-tier authenticity certification program and to fundraise for Indigenous artist workshops requested throughout their communities.

The Des Moines Social Club is an innovative arts and entertainment venue located in a renovated, historic art deco Firehouse in downtown Des Moines. The non-profit provides a home for local artists, offers unique programming spanning all arts disciplines, and brings people of every age and background together under one roof — all for the purpose to use the arts as a catalyst to create unprecedented community engagement.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts serves as a catalyst for local and regional artistic activity. From its award-winning youth arts and activism job training program, Young Artists at Work, to the acclaimed triennial Bay Area Now multidisciplinary arts festival, YBCA has established its leadership role as a champion of living artists working in the Bay Area. 

Vancouver Moving Theatre creates art that celebrates the power of the human spirit; builds shared experiences that bridge cultural traditions, social groups and artistic disciplines; and gives voice to residents of the Downtown Eastside and beyond.

Netter Center for Community Partnerships was founded in 1992 and is the University of Pennsylvania's primary vehicle for bringing to bear the broad range of human knowledge needed to solve the complex, comprehensive, and interconnected problems of the American city so that West Philadelphia, Philadelphia, the University itself, and society benefit.

Demos is Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank, producing original research, publishing innovative thinkers, and hosting thought-provoking events. It has spent over 20 years at the centre of the policy debate, with an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people.

The Haas Center for Public Service inspires Stanford University to realize a just and sustainable world through service, scholarship, and community partnerships. It is the hub of Cardinal Service, a university-wide initiative to elevate and expand service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education.

East Van Roasters is the newest social enterprise to come out of the PHS Community Services Society. Designed to provide training and employment to the women residents of the Rainier Hotel, East Van Roasters creates organic ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate and coffee roasted and prepared on site.

The HAVE Culinary Training Society is a culinary training school that provides foodservice job training and work opportunities to individuals in Vancouver who experience barriers to employment. HAVE‘s students are youth and adults facing barriers that may include mental and physical disabilities, poverty, addiction, age, ESL and homelessness.

Potluck Café is an award winning social enterprise. Its mission is to transform lives by creating jobs and providing healthy food for people living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES). Potluck Café Society operates Potluck Café & Catering to create jobs for neighborhood residents with barriers to traditional employment and earn revenue to support its community programs.

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of our 501,000 member-owners and their communities. It has 57 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses $17.5 billion in assets to help improve the financial wellbeing of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy, sustainable communities.

Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables, available at farmer’s markets, local restaurants and retail outlets.

The Window Community Art Shop is a social enterprise art and craft showcase in Vancouver's downtown eastside. Created, owned and operated by PHS Community Services Society.

Strathcona Community Dental Clinic is a non-profit clinic that provides high quality dental care to children, their families and seniors. They also provide prevention and dental health information and nutritional counseling. 

Enterprising Women Making Art program was launched in 2003 as a development initiative of Atira Women's Resource Society. It has focused on supporting women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to work together to develop an alternative form of business or employment that is grounded in their needs and realities

RADIUS (RADical Ideas, Useful to Society) is a social innovation lab and venture incubator based at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University. In a world facing increasingly complex social challenges they are inspired by an emerging wave of entrepreneurs and innovators questioning the old rules and pushing forward new ideas about how our society might work.

Skwachàys Lodge is a boutique hotel and Canada’s first Aboriginal arts hotel. Located in the heart of Vancouver’s historic downtown this stunning addition to Vancouver’s urban landscape offers guests an authentic Aboriginal experience while providing the highest quality personalized service. Skwachays Lodge has been transformed using a sustainable model for supportive housing.

DTES Street Market runs every Sunday at Pigeon Park and supports hundreds of vendors on 52 market days per year to be more independent, less clientized, and to make much needed extra money for themselves to supplement welfare. It is a registered BC Society operated by the street vendors of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and the same vendors and volunteers that run the market also govern its entire operation.

Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? The research is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

Powell Street Festival Society’s mission is to cultivate Japanese Canadian arts and culture to connect communities. Their main activity is producing the Powell Street Festival in Vancouver’s historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood. The festival is an annual celebration of Japanese Canadian arts and culture. In addition to the festival, the society engages in co-presentations with arts organizations and produce an annual season of cultural and artistic programming.

International Centre of Art for Social Change was conceived by Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP) as a partnership between JMP and Simon Fraser University to support art for social change (ASC) communities in Canada and around the world.

WePress is an accessible, Community Artspace in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, BC, Canada on Unceded Coast Salish Territory. Their purpose to support learning, skills development and creative communications for personal and community benefit amongst residents and friends of the Downtown Eastside.

ICI Berlin (Institute for Cultural Inquiry) is an independent research centre dedicated to exploring how diverse cultures can be brought into productive rather than pernicious confrontation. The Institute enacts an expansive and deliberately dissonant understanding of culture that includes cultural formations as well as fields of knowledge production.

Evergreen believes we can solve even the most pressing urban environmental issues by bringing diverse people together, inspiring them with possibilities and engaging them in identifying solutions and taking action. 

Embark is an independent, student-led not-for-profit society working toward a sustainable future at Simon Fraser University campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey. It provides sustainability advocacy, programming, and academic and professional development opportunities for over 35,000 undergraduate and graduate student members.

The Sustainability Office was established to support the work of the Senior Sustainability Council in the development of SFU's Sustainability Strategic Plan. Its mission is to support and facilitate the University-wide effort to implement the plan, to maintain programs already established, and to develop new programs to support University-wide sustainability initiatives.

We Are Cities is a project launched by a number of organizations that believe that a prosperous future for Canada depends on thriving cities. For cities to succeed, citizens need to take an active role in identifying a path forward to achieve resilience, prosperity and inclusivity.

The Environmental Youth Alliance works to engage and empower youth to create meaningful, positive action for our community and environmental health. Their mission is to inspire children, youth, and young adults to connect with the natural world and become sustainability leaders in their communties. 

Five Borough Farm is a project of the Design Trust for Public Space, which offers a roadmap to farmers and gardeners, City officials, and other stakeholders to understand and weigh the benefits of urban agriculture.

Sustainable Collective presents thoughts and ideas on science, sustainability, and the environment from students and professionals alike. It provides a platform for passionate individuals to share their thoughts and innovative solutions.

CPAWS protects wilderness in every corner of B.C. and deep into the ocean. They create and safeguard large parks, protected areas and wilderness corridors – places like the Tatshenshini, Muskwa Kechika, Northern Rockies, Pacific Rim, Gwaii Haanas and Bowie Seamount. CPAWS is a non-profit, grassroots-based conservation organization. They remain the only national non-profit organization devoted exclusively to protecting Canada's wilderness heritage. is building a global climate movement. Their online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries. The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.

Jane’s Walk is a series of free neighbourhood walking tours that helps put people in touch with their environment and with each other. Since its inception in 2007, Jane’s Walk has been growing, with over 130 cities around the world participating in 2014. Jane’s Walk honours the legacy and ideas of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning. Jane’s Walk helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.

Culture Saves Lives is an awareness campaign to reconnect all people with their culture as a harm reduction and life saving health intervention, especially First Nations people oppressed by mechanisms of colonization such as residential schools and the foster care system, including those who are traditionally left out of the circle.

ArtsEverywhere is the latest program of Musagetes, a Canadian philanthropic arts organization founded on a deep belief in the transformative power of the arts. With this online platform and its related projects, we offer a new forum concerned with the role the arts can play in addressing the faultlines of modern society and the deep and perplexing problems that beset contemporary life.

Imagining America creates democratic spaces to foster and advance publicly engaged scholarship that draws on arts, humanities, and design. It catalyzes change in campus practices, structures, and policies that enables artists and scholars to thrive and contribute to community action and revitalization.

Southbank Centre is a world-famous arts centre on the South Bank of the Thames. Created in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, Southbank Centre draws on its heritage as a festival site, with art and activities inside and outside.

Ryerson University has a strong history of engagement with local organizations and has earned a reputation as a city builder. It is actively building a community of scholars, innovators and creative practitioners who contribute their intellectual capital to the development of the city, province, country and the world.