Promoting Social Change Through the Arts: My IVLP Experience

By Osaze Efe

Being selected to be part of the 2022 International Visitors Leadership Program on promoting social change through arts is an opportunity I will always be grateful for, as it marks a high point in my career. The program afforded me the rare chance to sit in the room with artists and art experts from 25 countries, including Uganda, Bolivia, Nepal, Israel, Lithuania etc., sharing ideas and experiences about steps they are taking to promote inclusion, conduct civic dialogues, amplify voices of youth and marginalized groups, and support institutional frameworks in their various countries using the arts.

The program took place December 3–17, 2022. I visited three cities in the United States (Washington DC, Colorado Springs, and New York City) and met with art leaders who took us on tours of their spaces and shared with us how their work is shaping social change in the United States and beyond. The visit expanded my understanding of the U.S. arts community and provided inspiration on how I can design my artistic work to better support creatives to make works that amplify social justice, shine light on the challenges faced by vulnerable communities and individuals, amplify advocacy for good governance and contribute meaningfully to building a stable society. Experts shared learnings about designing art programs, fundraising, art activism, and leading art organizations effectively.

The IVLP program provided a unique opportunity to learn about the U.S. system of government and the decision-making process across the various arms and levels of government. It also exposed me to the geographic, ethnic, and religious diversity of the United States and how the various forms of arts are critical to fostering community integration; managing conflicts; building leadership mindset and conflict resolution skills in young people; supporting individual and community healing; and promoting mutual understanding.

Our sessions were held in various historic locations such as the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Southern Colorado Public Media Centre, Manitou Art Centre, and Centre for Artistic Activism. We also met with local organizations like Poetry 719, Finding our Voices, and Youth Documentary Academy.

One of my highlights of the program was site visits to various iconic landmarks, across the US cities we visited, that hold significant memories and history for the United States. As a first-time visitor to America, the tour was remarkable for me. We visited the White House, the US Capitol, Lincoln and Martin Luther King Memorials in Washington DC, the Garden of the Gods in Colorado and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

My appreciation goes to the Embassy of the United States of America in Abuja for nominating me for this program as it has provided me the needed knowledge, resources, and network to contribute meaningfully to the Nigerian art space and strengthen my efforts to use the arts as a tool to advocate for social change in Nigeria.



United States Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria. For official information visit

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