From Indian independence to marriage equality, history is packed with examples of large-scale social change. Behind many of these changes lies a social movement: collective action by ordinary people working outside existing institutional frameworks toward a common goal, with the intent to disrupt the status quo.

Downloads and Information

As the line between organizations and social movements continues to blur, leaders from each sphere increasingly stand to learn from one another. Leading Large Scale Social Change in Arts & Culture is a two-day interdisciplinary course held February 27-28, 2019 in the Bay Area that builds an understanding of the key levers available to those seeking to create major social change. Together we will also seek to understand how organizations interact with social movements in the Bay Area and beyond, and how we as individuals can continue to support and enact large-scale social change.

You want...  to look beyond traditional institutional growth and change theories and challenge yourself to work with different constituencies and levers for change.

You'll learn...  about disruption and challenging existing power structures while building loyal communities of brand advocates.

You will... examine social movements from around the world and here in the Bay Area, examining the effectiveness and limitations of different levers.

Participants will receive videos in advance of the session in order to prime them for collaborative learning, discussion and application.

Program Info

Dates: February 27-28, 2019
Location: The Open Square at Futures Without Violence, San Francisco, CA
Size: Limited to 50 participants

  • Leading Large Scale Social Change in Arts & Culture is best attended by organizational teams of up to six people per organization (board members, leadership, staff)
  • Want to transfer registration to a different team member? Contact NAS at

Seminar Cost

Thanks to generous underwriting by The Kresge Foundation, the fee for this two-day seminar is $150 per person.


  • Understand key levers used by social movements around the world and throughout history and apply them to current issues in the Bay Area
  • Analyze the uses and limitations of different instruments for large-scale social change
  • Identify challenges facing current social change movements locally and develop smart strategies to help them move forward
  • Provide participants with a toolkit of frameworks to take beyond the classroom


The levers we will study include:

  • Finance and Commerce
  • Law
  • Technology
  • Grassroots Organizing and Networks
  • Structure and Leadership
  • Communications, including Framing and the Media

Additional topics covered include:

  • The role of context and external threats, including violence
  • Reform vs. Revolution: the spectrum of social change and the role of disruption
  • Key phases and life cycle of social movements
  • Theory of Change: strategy, goals, and tactics
  • The roles of business, government, and the social sector in social movements
  • Leadership of social change


NAS piloted Leading Large Scale Social Change in Arts and Culture as part of its 2017 Summit for Change. Participants in the program included CEOs of cultural organizations from all over the world. Our faculty engaged with participants in advance to pull their stories into their teaching as examples of the great work already happening in this sphere. Participants walked away having a deeper understanding of what their role and their organization’s role could be in community social change efforts. As one participant put it:

“My NAS experience has been transformative in many ways - changing the frame of my work and of my understanding and conception of my sphere of influence as well as that or my organization. What does it mean to be a leader of a leading cultural organization in a community - and how can we maximize our impact and change people's lives for the better. That's powerful, challenging, scary, but important stuff!”
– Gretchen Dietrich, Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Outcomes included both collaborative efforts and individual actions. Many leaders told us that they were better able to shape their personal narrative used to invite others into their visions for change. Collectively, a subset of the leaders formed a working group on racial equity which collaborated for a year to craft racial equity principles they recently shared with a broader group of NAS alumni at the NAS Summit and intent to adopt within their own organizations.