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The Artist as Citizen Initiative at Portland State University

The Artist as Citizen Initiative at Portland State University creates multiple pathways for aspiring artists to discover their potential to affect social change as members of local and global communities. We are committed to developing curriculum and community-based learning approaches to arts education that have social advocacy as a core principle.


Classes, community partnerships and creative response to social justice issues are at the heart of the Artist as Citizen Initiative. We've designed these pages to share some of the projects, ideas and guest speakers from our classes.  

Portland State University faculty Darrell Grant and Suzanne Savaria are the co-founders and builders of the initiative.


Darrell Grant

Since the release of his debut album Black Art, one of the New York Times's top ten jazz CD's of 1994, Darrell Grant has built an international reputation as a pianist, composer, and educator who channels the power of music to make change. Dedicated to themes of hope, community, and place, Grant’s compositions include his 2012 Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suitehonoring the civil rights icon and The Territorywhich explores Oregon’s landscape andhistory. Since moving to Portland, Oregon he has been named Portland Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalist Association, received a Northwest Regional Emmy, and received a MAP Fund grant and the Governor’s Arts Award. He is a Professor of Music at Portland State University where he co-directs the Artist as Citizen Initiative

Suzanne Savaria

 Suzanne is Co-Director and developer of the Artist as Citizen Initiative, an arts and social justice program , and a Performing Arts Advocacy and Classical Piano faculty since 2007. In the summers, she develops curriculum and leads international capstone fieldwork in  Spain and Chile, centered on topics of ethnomusicology and identity-formation. Outside of PSU, she teaches and manages her private piano studio.  Suzanne works to empower students to explore their creativity, discover the importance of their voice and be curious citizens of the global world

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