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Creative Opportunities at ASTEP – Artists Striving to End Poverty

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ASTEP, Artists Striving to End Poverty, was conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.

ASTEP’s Artist as Citizen Conference is an annual summer retreat designed to identify, connect and develop extraordinary young leaders in the arts.The six-day conference is hosted by The Juilliard School in New York City and borrows its name from a book by the school’s president, Dr. Joseph W. Polisi, who writes “there should be no dividing line between artistic excellence and social consciousness.”Inspired by Dr. Polisi’s vision and powered by ASTEP’s experience and international community of volunteers, the conference serves as a clearing house and launching pad for the next generation of leaders in the arts, by focusing on three pillars of proficiency: artistry, activism and entrepreneurship.


First and foremost, one’s work must speak for itself. Through daily Arts Perspectives classes, electives, and a four-day multidisciplinary creation process that culminates in a presentation for invited guests at Juilliard, the conference allows artists of all artforms & backgrounds to explore diverse vantage points and to continue to hone their chosen craft within the confines of the inspiring Juilliard rehearsal studios. Previous Perspectives classes have included Improvisation, Clown, Art in Public Spaces, Puppetry and more.



Activism is the use of vigorous action to bring about political or social change. We take a wide view of what might constitute activism but are uncompromising in our belief that artists should play a part in bringing about a more just, more humane world. Previous presenters have included journalists, community organizers, civil rights activists, faith leaders, representatives from the United Nations, and many more, all facilitated by ASTEP, a global nonprofit with over ten years’ experience using art as a tool for social justice.



If an entrepreneur is a person who manages and assumes the risk of a business or enterprise, then all practicing artists should conceive of themselves as entrepreneurs. It is no longer tenable, if it ever was, for an artist to divorce themselves entirely from the realities of the marketplace. As such, the more financially literate a young artist is, the more likely they are to find support, stability and success in their careers. Through partnerships with NYC’s The Financial Clinic and Dr. Bill Baker, author of The World’s Your Stage and President Emeritus of WNET, the conference provides fellows with an economic snapshot of the industries they’re seeking to join, as well as practical tools to navigate the ups-and-downs of choosing to monetize their passions.

If you’re wondering how we accomplish this triple-helix of instruction, spend some time on our Past Presenters page and get to know our incredible team, or peruse a previous year’s Conference Program. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at and we’ll get them all sorted out.

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Artist As Citizen Conference


As ASTEP grows, the number one question we get asked by students is, “How can we carry out the ASTEP mission in our own communities?” Through the ASTEP Leaders Network, ASTEP is connecting with like-minded artists around the country, ages 16 – 25 years old, providing them with the tools and support necessary to bring their visions to their communities. Our network currently supports ASTEP Chapters in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Austin, St. Augustine, Des Moines, Boston, Portland, Oakland, Austin, and more. Your school can be next.

ASTEP Chapter Leaders:

Are recognized as official ASTEP Leader
Receive up to 8 hours of mentorship support from ASTEP Staff
Receive a comprehensive ASTEP Leaders Resource Guide with helpful tips, activities, sample lesson plans and tons of other valuable info
Take part in free monthly webinars with experts on a broad range of subjects, such as Career + Life Balance, Responsible Volunteerism, and many more!
Gain access to the private ASTEP Leaders Network Facebook group.


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