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A-lan Holt’s job is to help young people understand the immense power of art. In her new role as the Director of Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA), she helps train undergraduates in how to use art as a tool for organizing and for bringing about social change.

“For us, the arts are not just about how do you create a beautiful picture or how do you put on a moving performance,” she says. “They’re about how you test and take the temperature of a space, community, and environment, and how you work with that temperature to be able to create healthier cultures, healthier environments, and healthier situations for communities.”

According to Holt, IDA is the only organization housed within an institute of higher education that is focused exclusively on training diverse students in the arts and art leadership. In its current form, IDA was established in 2000, but its roots date back to 1969, when a group of students formed the Committee on Black Performing Arts.

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