New class: 'The Artist as Activist'

Starting Date: 01-14-2007

Loyola University
Theater Department
Chicago, Illinois 60626
United States
The course is based on the premise that creativity is an essential component of a vital democracy. Students will be introduced to the concept of the Creative Economy, which generates over $960 billion in annual revenues in the U.S. We will explore the idea of creativity as a national value capable of driving public policy and civic engagement. The class will explore several ways to be an organizer around issues of culture and creativity. During this course students are given an introduction to community organizing strategies and tactics and will be exposed to a number of cultural policy controversies and the key players who are working to make a difference in those areas. We will also examine the work of social change leaders who use the arts as their primary role of intervention. These practitioners are collectively known as Interventionists. This class combines readings, class exploration and an out-of-class research project where students will pick a social change cause that is meaningful to them, research that issue and do a performance/artistic-based presentation on that issue to the class. No prerequisite is required for this course.

The Instructor
Tom Tresser is a former actor, theater producer and community organizer. Based in Chicago, he has been working since 1990 to involve cultural workers and creative professionals to become active in politics and civic affairs.

He has spent the last two years organizing the Creative America Project (, a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan effort which aims to inspire and train creative professionals to seek leadership positions in public life. He’s written a book based on his cultural organizing work, "Win With Creativity! Why and How Creative Professionals Should Run for Local Office.”

Over the past year he has delivered a performance/presentation called "The Politics of Creativity - A Call to Service" for Arts Midwest, Arts Wisconsin, ArtPride New Jersey, ArtServe Michigan and the Detroit College of Creative Studies. It's a 90 minute piece that makes the case for creativity as the basis for a new, positive and winning politics and explains how creative professionals have the values, passion and skills perfectly suited for public leadership. He believes that many of our peers are already leaders who possess values, skills and experience desperately needed in the public sector.
Geographical Scope: Local

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