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Art in Society Mission

“Nurturing Citizen Artists through community partnership and advocacy. By understanding that they are part of a global community, students discover the empowerment of being a Citizen Artist: having an impact beyond individual or isolated achievement.”

Art in Society (AIS) offers a weekly class where students earn one full arts credit under the InterArts Department. This class combines volunteer work in the community, work with guest artists engaged in social justice, and a curriculum focused on becoming a “citizen artist”. Activities include creating sustainable kits for unhoused families, developing original student works for the annual AIS Symposium, and individual presentations for the IDY Talks series that feature the stories of students’ creative evolution. Students from all disciplines and grade levels are eligible to sign up for AIS, and are encouraged to collaborate across majors and peer groups as they explore what it means to be part of a community, and their unique power to make a difference for others as artists.

Art in Society Symposium

Art in Society Symposium Is open to the public and involves all students and faculty in a day devoted to social issues and how the arts play a critical role in our global community. Our 2023 theme, “Finding Your Joy – What’s On Your Playground?” is an exploration of the essential connection between creative play and joyful expression. “Play is the gateway to vitality according to the National Institute for Play (NIFP). Play is uniquely “rewarding, it generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce and fosters empathy.” Play is also powerful in creating a sense of community.”

Guest artist Rachel Gartside of The Royal Shakespeare Company, and alumni guests Michael Dunaevsky and Carson Tanner join us for this celebration of the human spirit. AIS original student works include presentations of music, visual arts, film, poetry, theatre, and fashion design.

This all-campus, all-day event is free and open to the public through the generous support of Arts Enterprise Laboratory.

Art in Society Symposium 2023

IDY Talks

AIS showcases exemplary juniors and seniors in Its IDY Talks series that is open to the public, held in the village of Idyllwild. Students share the story of their creative evolution, and how Idyllwild Arts has shaped them as artists. IDY Talks provides an opportunity to learn public speaking and brings the community greater awareness of the lives of our young artists.

Field Work Fridays

In addition to weekly classes, AIS students spend Fridays volunteering in the local community. Organizations such as The Community Garden, Idyllwild Historical Society, The Green Nursery, and Idyllwild Nature Center partner with Art in Society by pairing community volunteers with students to learn about conservancy, allyship, sustainability, advocacy, and how creatives make a positive impact on community building. This program provides a hands-on connection for students as they learn what It means to be a “citizen artist.”


Idyllwild Arts Academy students from all disciplines volunteer to assist teachers at Idyllwild School to bring quality arts education to grades K-8. Our students are transported to Idyllwild School once a week for an hour to help in the classroom. smARTS meets throughout the school year, and students take part according to their availability. PTA parents created the smARTS Project in 2002 because “engagement in the arts is key to success in all academic subjects, the arts are fundamental in a complete education, and the arts are essential to the vitality and quality of life in our school and in our community.”

Outstanding Citizen Artist Award

Each year Art in Society recognizes exemplary seniors with the Outstanding Citizen Artist Award. This honor is given to graduating students whose participation in AIS has shown exceptional commitment to community service, and creative collaboration that furthers beneficial social change

Erica Nashan

Art in Society Director

Director, Community Arts Liaison, Performer, Teacher

With over thirty-five years of experience in the performing arts and professional training programs throughout the US, Ms. Nashan’s work encompasses international tour, collaboration with some of the industry’s finest in theatre, film, television and music, as well as award-winning development of grassroots arts programming for communities who deserve access to the arts. She continues to help others find their voice through her dedication to arts education and creative collaboration.

Faculty Advisory Committee

Erica Nashan,
Art in Society Director, InterArts Faculty

James Kent Arnold,
Film & Digital Media Faculty

Malissa Biber
LVN Health Center Nurse

Abbie Bosworth,
InterArts Department Chair, Creative Writing Faculty

Julie Roy
Associate of Idyllwild Arts Foundation

Christopher Stroud
Director of Dining Services

Denis McCourt Stryjewski,
Theatre Department Chair and Faculty

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