The Sanctuaries | Washington, DC


Get trained
to use your art
for social change.

If you’re a visual or performance artist who is committed to advancing justice and healing in your community, this program will equip you with the skills and support to earn money and make a lasting impact.


Over fifteen weeks, you’ll learn new techniques and strategies in arts-based activism, community organizing, and collective healing, while collaborating with other incredible artists to work on the front lines of a justice campaign. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself as a leader and how you can sustain yourself in this work for the long haul.

Upon successful completion of this Fellowship training program, you’ll have the opportunity to become a Teaching Artist at The Sanctuaries and earn money through projects, performances, and workshops in Washington, DC, and across the country.

Applications closed for 2019.
Thanks to everyone who applied!


Artists in our 2018 mixed cohort.

Is this program for me?

There are many ways to advance social change. That’s why each artist in the program is expected to focus on one track. Read through them and see if one of them sounds like you.


I believe communities know best what’s best for them. I want to use my artistic skills to work with the members of a community to advocate for policies that honor their dignity and dreams.


I believe the way we understand an issue shapes how we solve it. I want to use my artistic skills to put the voices, stories, and ideas of my experience and my community on platforms that shift popular culture.


I believe the world around us is a reflection of the world within us. I want to use my artistic skills to transform trauma, conflict, and pain into forces that make us more powerful and resilient.    

Found your track? Great, then keep reading…

How does the program work?

Start: February 2, 2019 | Finish: May 18, 2019

Many artists spend years learning how to make a social impact, so our intensive 15-week journey is designed to activate artists into a lifetime of growth! We take a high-commitment approach to this Fellowship training program. In other words, we expect artists to (i) make this program a top priority in their life for the 15 weeks they’re in it; (ii) attend all of the gatherings listed here; (iii) give it their very best at all times.

In-person gatherings will take place at our studio, 5301 North Capitol St NE in Washington, DC, which is a 5 minute walk from Ft. Totten metro.

NOTE: We recognize that life happens. Each artist will therefore receive up to three (3) “graces” for Sessions and Studios that they have to miss due to a life emergency. There are no graces for Retreats. If you’re absent for more than your three graces, you’ll most likely be asked to leave the program.

The program has a simple yet intentional structure:

1. Retreats

Three weekends: February 2-3, March 2-3, and April 6-7, from 10am-6pm each day. Not overnight.
You’ll build knowledge and skills in the curriculum’s core areas of practice (listed below) through lived case studies with elders and experienced practitioners.

2. Sessions

Twice per month (virtual): on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month, from 7pm-9:30pm.
You’ll meet with your fellow artists over video-chat for critical reflection and conversation on the curriculum’s core areas of practice (listed below).

3. Studios

Weekly: at a time of your choosing, for at least 3 hours per week.
You’ll have access to our art studio to create your own art and collaborate with your fellow artists on a 15-week project that puts your learning into practice by supporting a justice campaign.

4. Culmination

One day: on Saturday, May 18th, from TBD
You’ll participate in a Community Roundtable to help launch your future leadership.

Able and willing to make this work? Great, then keep reading…

What will I learn?

This Fellowship training program is focused on community: creating a multicultural community of learning for the artists involved, as well as teaching those artists how to respect, engage, and impact the multicultural communities around them.

In the process, you’ll be asked to rise to your best self, which will mean challenging the values of white dominant society that affect us all. We recognize that this can be emotionally heavy work, so we will work together to create a culture of care that ensures each artist is held in moments of strength and weakness.   

The program’s curriculum is divided into three core areas of practice:


Healing spirits

As artists, everything we create reflects who we are. By the end of the program, you’ll have developed a sacred connection to your social identity, artistic voice, and higher purpose as a leader, so that you can navigate difficult situations from a place of personal wellness.


Shifting culture

As artists, we have tools that others don’t. By the end of the program, you’ll have engaged a variety of techniques from arts-based activism and cultural organizing, so that you can create high quality art that advances your goals for social change.


Building power

As artists, we can’t just talk, we have to take action. By the end of the program, you’ll have collaborated with your fellow artists on an arts-based project with a justice campaign, so that you have the experience you need to get paid doing this work after the program ends.

Excited to learn? Great, then keep reading…

Who will be accepted?

We invite applications from emerging and established artists alike. We value experience in its many forms, including self-taught artists and artists who share their work outside of traditional platforms and venues.

NOTE: This program is only open to visual and performance artists. We define visual arts as: drawing, painting, graffiti, printmaking, digital media, photography, video, fashion, and textiles. We define performance arts as: music, spoken word poetry, hip hop, theater, dance, storytelling, cultural work. If you have a question about whether your artistic medium is included, please contact us by clicking on the “Contact Us” button at the bottom of this page.

We’re looking for visual and performance artists of all ages who can say:

I’m able and willing to lead.

This program is designed for people who are about this program. Whether you’re a full-time artist or someone who hustles on the side, we’re looking for artists who have the time, discipline, and maturity to get the most out of this program. Because it’s a long-term investment in yourself, not just a thing to do when you’re in the mood.   

I’m rooted in Washington, DC.

This program is designed for people who are about this city. Whether you grew up here or now call the D/M/V home, we’re looking for artists who plan to stay in and around Washington, DC for the long haul. Because this city is a destination, not just a stop along the way.

I’m called to this work.

This program is designed for people who are about this life. Whether you have years of experience or are newer to all of this, we’re looking for artists who will stay engaged in this work for years to come after the program ends. Because this is your life’s passion, not just as passing fad.

Ready to apply? Great, then keep reading…

How do I apply?

The Fellowship training program has a value of $3500.
It is offered for
FREE to you!

Even though you don’t have to pay to participate in the program, there are some minor costs that we want you to be aware of before you apply:

  • Application Fee: $15

  • Commitment Fee to cover program materials: $50

  • Transportation to and from the 3 x 2-day Retreats (not overnight)

  • Lunch for the 3 x 2-day Retreats (not overnight)

  • Artmaking materials not associated with your 15-week project

To receive a waived application fee due to financial hardship, submit a Statement of Financial Need to ahmane [AT] This statement should be at least one paragraph that explains why you would benefit from being awarded a scholarship. The Statement of Financial Need should be concise and compelling. All scholarships are awarded on a first come first served basis.

To apply, you must:

  1. Decide which track (Organizer, Visionary, or Healer) you want to focus on.

  2. Record a video (up to 10 minutes long; it does not need to be professional quality) that includes these three (3) parts: (i) Show us an example of your art and explain how it relates to the track that you want to focus on, i.e. Organizer, Visionary, or Healer. (ii) Tell us who you are and what you’re about through a piece of art that you’ve already created, or that you create for this application. (iii) Explain how you see yourself continuing this work after the program ends as a Teaching Artist with The Sanctuaries.

    NOTE: If you don’t have access to video on your or a friend’s phone, you may submit a written application.

  3. Fill out the short application below and submit your $15 application fee.

Applications closed for 2019.
Thanks to everyone who applied!

NOTE: The application process has two steps: (i) a panel of practitioners will select finalists from the online applications; (ii) finalists will be invited for a virtual interview in mid-January. If you’re accepted into the program and choose to participate, you’ll be asked to pay a $50 commitment fee, which is both a sign of your investment in the program and a way to cover your material costs.

Where do I go from here?

We’re looking for graduates who will continue the work as Teaching Artists at The Sanctuaries.
Past participants have worked with many different organizations, including…


Smithsonian American Art Museum


Justice for Muslims Collective


The Kennedy Center


Empower DC


DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence


Parliament of the World’s Religions


Maryland Institute College of Art


Foundry United Methodist Church


Harvard University


Asian American LEAD


Learn24 Youth Programs


US Department of State