Center for Art & Social Engagement - University of Houston
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Centering Creativity, Impact and Community

Artists and artist-centered organizations play an essential role in shaping contemporary social attitudes, initiating bold ventures and conveying a community’s value.  Houston, with its culture of entrepreneurship and vibrant creative community, is home to numerous artists and arts organizations taking leadership roles in the city. By raising awareness of community needs, redefining the creative discourse and inspiring new public and private initiatives, effective arts leadership can have far-reaching cultural and economic impact. 

The Center for Art & Social Engagement (CASE) at the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts (KGMCA) is invested in civic and social engagement initiatives that link the College to the surrounding historic Third Ward neighborhood and the city at large. CASE, which was formerly the Center for Arts Leadership when housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, helped lay the groundwork for KGMCA priorities in civic and social engagement. With the establishment of the new College of the Arts in 2016, the center was renamed to clarify and emphasize the important relationship the College has with the city and with the national arts community.

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There is a wealth of knowledge and research about the arts and best practices in the creative fields. Though social media is a great aggregator, we are confronted with so many streams of information simultaneously that many of us have little time to process, much less incorporate, these new ideas into our daily lives. Find profiles, sessions and features below that relate to the three key themes we examine at the center.

  • Arts & Community Stewardship

    Arts leaders across the country are talking about ways to engage audiences, program relevancy and connectedness to the public. High-impact audience engagement starts before the show or exhibition and lasts long after. Connectedness between audience and cultural organization does not occur through a single transaction, but, instead, through a series of events that build toward an overall experience. The shift toward art as a relational experience demands new levels of skills, additional or alternative resources, and different end goals.

  • Creative Economy

    In a city of industry sectors such as energy, medicine and international trade, the contributions of creative businesses have on a city’s economy are chronically unrecognized. Creative businesses, such as advertising, film and video production, writing and design, are critical, elemental components of any traditional business. CASE works to raise awareness of the contributions of the creative economy to traditional industry.

  • Creative Placemaking

    The National Endowment for the Arts defines "creative placemaking" as "when artists, arts organizations and community development practitioners integrate arts and culture into community revitalization work — placing arts at the table with land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure and public safety strategies." CASE investigates place-based creative engagement in both hyper-local and ecosystemic frameworks, making the case for impacts across multiple sectors.