The Sanctuaries | Washington, DC



In the beginning

The Sanctuaries was founded as the first interfaith arts community in the country. In 2013, twenty neighbors were so frustrated by the segregation and isolation they experienced in Washington, DC, that they organized sacred spaces, or “sanctuaries,” where artists of different racial and religious backgrounds could build trust and take collective action.

Within three years, our community had expanded to over 100 visual, performing, and literary artists collaborating with dozens of local and national institutions to address some of the most pressing social issues of our time ⁠— from preventing the displacement of public housing residents, to securing legal representation for refugees, to mobilizing tens of thousands of youth to shift policies on climate change. 

In the process, we discovered that the people most impacted by these social issues were speaking out, but their solutions were not being heard. We needed to develop new ways to amplify their voices. 

So, in 2017, we incorporated as a nonprofit training community that equips and deploys multicultural artists on the front lines of grassroots organizing, civic engagement, and public advocacy to apply innovative strategies for healing social divides and igniting social change with over 100,000 people ... and growing!

Activating artists as civic leaders is the future.

Just look to the past. From the performance art of the Boston Tea Party to the freedom songs of Civil Rights, artists fuel our social imagination and shape our civic institutions. We’re renewing this legacy for the 21st century.


Artists bridge divides.

Our artists repair trust and foster cooperation across different communities and sectors.

Example: Creative Placemaking in Ivy City


Artists influence decisions.

Our artists shift the thoughts and feelings that underlie people’s choices and action.

Example: Lives of Commitment


Artists amplify voices.

Our artists equip people with creative tools to get their ideas and solutions heard.

Example: Youth Climate March


Artists uplift spirits.

Our artists enable people to process their pain and renew their hope in what is possible.

Example: U.S. Department of State

We’re in Washington, DC for a reason.


Urban Microcosm

Washington, DC, faces many of the same issues confronting every major American city: economic development, access to quality education, clean water, etc. However, as a historically Black city that was recently named the most gentrified city in the country, we are working particularly hard to heal social divides and create a more equitable city for all residents.


International Platform

Washington, DC, is also quite different than any other American city: it is the destination for national tourism and seat of national power. Every major social issue passes through the nation’s capital. We are using our unique location to train people from around the country, as well as shape the stories and decisions that impact people all around the world.


See how we’re doing it. Check out our model.