In the midst of the uprising following George Floyd’s murder by police, the UW–Madison Division of the Arts was inspired to mobilize our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts in new, more concrete ways. Encouraged by students’ energy to create art-based interrogations of longstanding oppressions, biases and inequities, the Division of the Arts sought $20,000 in seed funding from UW–Madison’s Anonymous Fund to power the Artivism Student Action Program (ASAP).

With this funding, we have supported student-led endeavors—both individual as well as those in cross-campus and community partnership—that emerge from the intersections of art and activism to address social issues, facilitate dialogue and create spaces in which social transformation can be imagined and implemented. ASAP aims to fund a variety of projects and related expenditures for any creative action intersecting art and activism with particular attention paid to projects that feature, center, benefit and/or are led by community members experiencing identity-based oppression.

ASAP is a unique resource in UW–Madison’s campus community in that it provides students with direct and immediate financial assistance through a low-barrier application and reporting process. Over the summer, the Division of the Arts learned from colleagues across the country about similar offerings at their universities, which helped inform the development of ASAP’s application process and guidelines. Early in the fall semester, we hosted an introductory gathering where students looking to channel creativity into activism were invited to learn more about the grants available to them or their registered student organization (RSO), ranging from $100 to $5,000. We quickly learned from the deluge of inquiries and highly qualified proposals that programs like ASAP are wanted and necessary—perhaps now more than ever—to fund students’ voices and demands for the sake of our communities’ futures. We are thrilled that in our pilot year, ASAP funds were awarded within about one month’s time.

Please join the Division of the Arts in congratulating the first annual ASAP award recipients. The following project descriptions exemplify the breadth, depth and creativity of art and activism that ASAP strives to support.

Chai Stories | Praveen Maripelly

Performed by Praveen Maripelly, an MFA candidate in 4D, Chai Stories is a series of community-building conversations with homemade, vegan chai, occurring in the atrium of the Art Lofts. Maripelly aims to build community and investigate the meaning of social engagement, community and outside life in the context of other cultures through these performances.