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“Nurturing Citizen Artists through community partnership and advocacy.”

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 programs are open to the public and involve all students and faculty devoted to learning about social issues and how the arts play a critical role in our global community. Our 2021 theme, ART AND HEALING, arose from our students’ awareness of how sharing their art with one another over vast distances has helped them cope with the pain of the coronavirus pandemic, unpack the complexities of social movements, and what they have learned about how human beings find healing through creative engagement. Symposium I guests will share Indigenous rituals, medical treatment therapies, and artworks sparked by community activism that employ the arts to bring balance to our lives. Symposium II will give us a view of students’ exploration of these concepts through the lens of performing arts, visual arts, and creative writing.
Facilitator: Erica Nashan

IDY Talks

Every month AIS features exemplary students during an evening event that is open to the public, held at The Town Gallery in Idyllwild. Students give a presentation of their chosen discipline and talk about their evolution as artists. Selected students must have attended Idyllwild Arts Academy for at least two years and participated in Art in Society programs, volunteering their time in the community. IDY Talks provides an opportunity to learn public speaking and brings the community greater awareness of the lives of our young artists.

Facilitator: Erica Nashan


IAA Music students volunteer as mentors for younger students in the San Jacinto Public School System to bring private stringed instrument lessons to this needy area. Violin, viola, cello and bass instrumentalists give one-hour lessons once a week. IAA students are transported to San Jacinto, and also give lessons via Skype. IAA students not only gain experience in teaching, they also begin to understand the world in a broader way and how arts education functions at a grass-roots level.

The MUSICA Program is part of El Sistema, a socially conscious music education program that has served thousands of students globally. IAA students have participated in this local chapter of MUSICA since 2015.

Facilitator: Heather Netz / Music Faculty; Coordinator of Music Partnerships
Pierson Residence Dorm Parent

Side by Side

Idyllwild Arts Academy hosts a culmination concert in which elementary students from San Jacinto involved in the MUSICA Program come to our campus and perform side by side with IAA students. This is a special opportunity for families and community from both San Jacinto and Idyllwild to share in musical collaboration and celebration. The concert is given in the Spring on campus at IAA’s William H. Lowman Concert Hall and is free to the public.

Facilitator: Heather Netz/Music Faculty; Coordinator of Music Partnerships
Pierson Residence Dorm Parent


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.”

Facilitator: Ginger Dagnall

Erica Nashan

Art in Society Coordinator

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

James Kent Arnold,
Film & Digital Media Faculty

Shaliyah Ben,
Native American Arts Program Coordinator

Abbie Bosworth,
InterArts Department Chair; Creative Writing Faculty

Heather Netz,
Music Department Chair; Music Faculty

Shelly Short,
Film & Digital Media Department Chair

Denis Stryjewski,
Theatre Faculty

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