Artists Addressing Homelessness

Artists Addressing Homelessness

October – November 2018


From October to November 2018, Arts in Action’s inaugural project brought together music and design students from USC and a choir from Skid Row for a unique collaboration that applied the transformative power of the arts to L.A.’s most pressing crisis: Homelessness.

Using, for the first time in L.A., a successful model developed by London’s Messengers band, ten members of the Urban Voices Project who have been affected by homelessness collaborated with nine students from the Thornton School of Music on new work.

Working together intensively for one week, campus rehearsals were supplemented with Skid Row workshops at LA Community Action Network and the John Wesley Community Health Center, leading to performances at USC and the Skid Row History Museum & Archive.

In addition, using the musical ensemble’s lyrical theme of “shade” as a starting point, students from the Roski School of Art and Design worked with the LA Poverty Department to produce shade structures for the annual Festival for All Skid Row Artists. After the event, the pieces were donated to the community for future use.


Skid Row is the ripest of fruit, ready for a new level of creativity and justice. Collaboration and partnership are key and Artists Addressing Homelessness not only demonstrated collaboration and partnership but blazed a trail for others to follow. The bar is now raised both inside and outside Skid Row on how to work together for the good of all.


Urban Voices Choir member

To be with such a diverse group of people and have one common goal—to spread joy through music—was very fulfilling. It made me realize that with proper guidance everyone has the power to create art that is valuable and impactful, no matter what your background.


USC Thornton participant


Trained Urban Voices Project leaders in a method that convenes community and student artists in an equitable art-making process

Showcased the talents of the Skid Row artistic community for new audiences

Instated strong partnerships for future arts collaborations between USC and Skid Row organizations

Introduced and inspired students to develop their art in vulnerable community settings