Art for Social Change Takes Centre Stage in the First Annual Arts of Conscience Symposium

The Vancouver International Song Institute, in partnership with Instruments of Change and VanCity Theatre, presents Arts of Conscience – a five-day series of talks & films exploring the power of art as a catalyst for positive social change - June 11 to 15 at VanCity Theatre.

Online PR News – 18-May-2012 – Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI), in partnership with Instruments of Change and VanCity Theatre, presents Arts of Conscience – a five-day series of talks and films exploring the power of art as a catalyst for positive social change - June 11 to 15, 2012 at VanCity Theatre. The inaugural symposium is part of VISI’s SONGFIRE Festival of Song, an intense month-long celebration of Art Song – the fusion of global poetry and music.

“Art’s ability to generate well-being is something we’ve all known intuitively and created forever - but its use in healthcare and social change is now becoming increasingly recognized as a realm of training, research, and important mainstream practice,” says Rena Sharon, Artistic Director of VISI. “We are thrilled to offer a week of great conversation and discoveries, facilitated by Laura Barron, through presentations by internationally renowned Vancouver artists, philosophers, and project leaders, as well as films featuring amazing global arts initiatives. We believe that Arts for Social Change is one of the great movements of this generation, and we are honoured to present Vancouverites who are renowned globally as instruments of change.”

The Innovator Lecture Series, presented each day from 5:30pm to 7pm, features talks by:

• Judith Marcuse, internationally renowned dancer/choreographer and Director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change at SFU
• Reena Lazar, Executive Director of Peace it Together, a filmmaking program for youth
• Cyndy Chwelos, Program Director at Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre
• David Diamond, Artistic Director of Headlines Theatre
• Dr. Susan O'Neill, Professor of Music Psychology at SFU and Director of the Research in Youth, Music, and Education Project (RYME)

Tickets for the Innovator Lecture Series are $5 per session, at the door.

Max Wyman, O.O.C., past President of the Canadian Commission for Unesco, author of the iconic book “The Defiant Imagination”, and activist for arts advocacy, will launch the film series with a keynote speech on June 11 at 8pm, followed by the film Rhythm Is It!, featuring the Berlin Philharmonic’s music and dance project with German youth.

Throughout the week’s film series, distinguished community leaders will present ideas about work in diverse realms, including Sam Sullivan, former mayor of Vancouver, director of the Global Civic Policy Society, and founder of the Disability Foundation, and Susan Summers, President of the Music Therapy Association of BC and Board member of the Arts Health Network of Canada. Reena Lazar will introduce the films from the Peace it Together project.

The Ideas and Images Series includes talks and films presented each evening from 8pm to 10pm, and will explore how art is creating social change on the world stage. The line up of engrossing films include:

• Wasteland, a documentary of the three-year art project of Vik Muniz with the garbage workers of Brazil.
• Twelve Angry Lebanese, a film about the radical work of Zeina Daccache as she directs a theatre piece with inmates from a high security male prison in Lebanon.
• Favela Rising, following Anderson Sá, a former drug trafficker who establishes the grassroots Afro Reggae movement amongst the youth of the Rio slums.
• Rhythm Is It!, a film documenting the empowering work of Berlin Philharmonic in their outreach program, which enlisted 250 inner-city German school children to dance with their performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.
• A selection of short films collaboratively created by youth from the Middle East and Canada through the Vancouver-based Peace It Together project.

Tickets for the Ideas and Images Series are $11 at the door, or at

Full details on Arts of Conscience and all SONGFIRE Festival events can be found at

About Vancouver International Song Institute
VISI was ignited in 2006 as a renegade revolution to sustain the global archive Art Song for future generations. Linking daring artistic innovation to intensive traditional practices, VISI has become a global nexus for groundbreaking interdisciplinary research, training, and multi-media creation. As one of the world’s largest Art Song programs, students come from across North America and Europe for mentorship from great artists and scholars. Its Art Song Lab brings together poets, composers, and performers to create new songs, and its SONGFIRE Theatre is the first of its kind in the world,
Each June VISI opens its doors to everyone who would like to experience Art Song, through an immense spectrum of fascinating lectures, masterclasses, workshops, and concerts.

VISI’s home at the UBC School of Music and its advocacy from the Faculty of Arts, the Office of the Vice President of Research, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies has generated links across UBC and affiliations with many prestigious universities and institutions around the world. VISI is artist-run and exists – against all odds - through the extraordinary efforts of many partners and volunteers.