News Releases

Rehabilitative Arts Programs Expand To All State Prisons

SACRAMENTO – The California Arts Council (CAC) has awarded new contracts to 12 arts organizations providing rehabilitative services to California inmates through Arts in Corrections (AIC). Through a partnership of CAC and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), arts programming now reaches all 35 state adult correctional institutions – a significant increase from the 20 institutions served by the program in the previous fiscal year.

ISP hip hop dance class

Inmates participate in a hip-hop dance class at Ironwood State Prison led by instructor Cesar Martinez. Photo by Peter Merts.

Administered by CAC, the program enhances rehabilitative goals, improves the safety and environment of state prisons and combats recidivism. Services provided span the full spectrum of art disciplines, with organizations offering instruction in theater, guitar, dance, creative writing and Native American beadwork, among many others.

“The state’s continued support of Arts in Corrections is indicative of the positive change happening throughout California’s prisons,” said CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan. “We are proud to partner with the California Arts Council to provide these life-changing programs that promote positive expression while also guiding offenders to deeper understanding of their emotions and choices.”

AIC is made possible by funding from the Division of Rehabilitative Programs at CDCR. Since the program’s re-launch in 2013, CDCR’s investment has increased from $2.5 million in the first two years to an $8 million commitment. California’s AIC program has become internationally renowned for its high-impact, innovative approach to addressing the state’s critical public safety needs and rehabilitative priorities through the arts.

“It is a watershed moment to bring Arts in Corrections programming to all of California’s state adult institutions, building upon the momentum of its success,” said Ayanna Kiburi, Interim CAC Director. “Inmates have the opportunity to work with incredible California artists and arts organizations to find the power to effect change through creative expression – to change how they interact with others, how they see themselves, and the overall trajectory of their lives.”

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Arts-in-Corrections Program Contract Awards
FY 2017-18

The Actors’ Gang – Los Angeles, CA

  •  The Actors’ Gang, under the leadership of Artistic Director Tim Robbins, has provided theater arts programming with an emphasis on Commedia dell’Arte techniques for more than a decade. The Prison Project team works to facilitate highly physical, emotional, ensemble-based theater workshops through weekly as well as seven-day intensive sessions. The work endeavors to unlock the vast human potential of the inmates. Classes allow the participants to address and begin to heal their trauma, and learn to manage their emotions in a productive way.
  • Facilities served: California Institution for Men; California Institution for Women; California State Prison, Sacramento; California Rehabilitation Center; Ironwood State Prison

Alliance for California Traditional Arts – Fresno, CA

  • The Alliance for California Traditional Arts provides arts programming focused on the vast and underserved field of traditional arts, rooted in cultural heritage and community-based practice. The expressions of Native American beadwork, storytelling, songwriting, African drumming, and American folk guitar and guitarra ranchera are intended as familiar and culturally relevant art forms for participants.
  • Facilities served: Avenal State Prison; California City Correctional Facility; California Correctional Institution; California Institution for Men; California Institution for Women; California Rehabilitation Center; California State Prison, Corcoran; California State Prison, Los Angeles County; Central California Women’s Facility; Correctional Training Facility; Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; Ironwood State Prison; Pleasant Valley State Prison;

Salinas Valley State Prison; Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran; Valley State Prison

Dance Kaiso – San Francisco, CA

  • Dance Kaiso provides residencies in Afro-Caribbean dance. Teaching artists conduct Caribbean drum, percussion and dance classes taught in a geographical, historical and cultural context, culminating in a final presentation.
  • Facilities served: Correctional Training Facility, Salinas Valley State Prison

Fresno Arts Council – Fresno, CA

  • Local arts agency Fresno Arts Council values the role the arts play in all communities, believing in the benefits of increased self-awareness and success from participating in arts programming. The Council provides visual arts, music and storytelling instruction in California state correctional institutions.
  • Facilities served: Avenal State Prison; California State Prison, Corcoran; Pleasant Valley State Prison; Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran

KALW – San Francisco, CA

  • Built on the success of their San Quentin Radio project, KALW will produce a nine-day audio journalism and engineering training program. A team of radio professionals and their equipment will help inmates build skills and share their stories about their experiences. Curriculum will include training in conceiving stories, pitching stories to editors, developing outlines and plans for putting together stories, sound recording, interviewing, transcribing, writing, rewriting, working with an editor, voicing stories, working with digital editing software, and enhancing stories with music or other sound.
  • Facilities served: California State Prison, Solano; San Quentin State Prison

Arts Council of Kern – Bakersfield, CA

  • The Arts Council of Kern offers a variety of classes in a range of disciplines. Poetry students learn to speak more freely and present original and existing spoken word pieces, visual arts students learn the fundamental of painting and drawing, and music programs teach the skills necessary for beginner’s guitar or ukulele. All programs culminate in a final project or performance.
  • Facilities served: Kern Valley State Prison, North Kern State Prison, Wasco State Prison

InsideOut Writers – Los Angeles, CA

  • InsideOUT uses creative writing as a catalyst for personal transformation in numerous correctional facilities in Southern California. Professional writers will provide creative writing and literary arts programming.
  • Facilities served: California City Correctional Facility, California Correctional Institution, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, Ironwood State Prison

Marin Shakespeare Company – San Rafael, CA

  • The Marin Shakespeare Company has 14 years’ experience providing programs in California state prisons, inspiring inmates and shedding light on their great potential. The company’s curriculum incorporates drama therapy techniques, Shakespeare study and performance, and the creation of autobiographical theater by inmates. Classes include check-ins designed to encourage self-reflection, skill-building exercises to encourage creativity, study of Shakespeare and how the themes from the plays relate to our own lives, and small group decision-making exercises designed to allow for the practice of conflict resolution. The program will culminate in a final performance of a Shakespeare play with costumes and props.
  • Facilities served: California Health Care Facility; California Medical Facility; California State Prison, Solano; Deuel Vocational Institution; Folsom State Prison; High Desert State Prison; San Quentin State Prison

Muckenthaler Cultural Center – Fullerton, CA

  • Serving the at-risk and underserved members of our community has become the mission of the Muck’s expanding arts education outreach program. Through Arts in Corrections, Muckenthaler will provide intensive, mini-residencies at correctional facilities, with four artists offering instruction in visual arts, hip-hop dance, storytelling and music, focusing on traditional Yoruban rhythms.
  • Facilities served: California Rehabilitation Center

Red Ladder Theatre Company – San Jose, CA

  • Formed in 1992, Red Ladder Theatre Company has a long-standing history of serving incarcerated populations, using the tools and techniques of improvisational theater to help its participants develop positive life skills. Guided by Red Ladder Company members, participants are encouraged to examine and solve the issues and problems that affect and often derail their lives. Through the tools and techniques of improvisational theater, participants are able to safely come to terms with, and triumph over, the forces that hamper their lives while also actively developing their abilities to make positive choices, solve problems creatively, focus on tasks, work collaboratively, learn from their mistakes, and develop leadership and self-esteem.
  • Facilities served: California Health Care Facility; Central California Women’s Facility; Correctional Training Facility; Deuel Vocational Institution; Folsom State Prison; Folsom Women’s Facility; Salinas Valley State Prison; Valley State Prison

Riverside Arts Council – Riverside, CA

  • The Riverside Arts Council will offer sessions in contemporary and Shakespearean theater, incorporating exercises involving movement, voice, storytelling, improvisation, scene study and character development. Culminating performances conclude each session. Within the framework of this program is an underlying therapeutic value. The performance of these projects leads to a sense of accomplishment and pride.
  • Facilities served: California Rehabilitation Center, California Institution for Men, California Institution for Women

William James Association – Santa Cruz, CA

  • The William James Association has a 40-year history of developing, managing and funding multi-disciplinary fine arts programs for incarcerated and at-risk individuals, working with organizations from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office to provide fine arts services in correctional settings. WJA will provide Arts in Corrections programming spanning the fields of music, visual arts, theater, and writing.
  • Facilities served: California Correctional Center; California Institution for Men; California Institution for Women; California Medical Facility; California Men’s Colony; California Rehabilitation Center; Centinela State Prison; California State Prison, Solano; High Desert State Prison; Mule Creek State Prison; Pelican Bay State Prison; Richard J. Donovan

Correctional Facility; San Quentin State Prison; Sierra Conservation Center

CDCR Contact: Krissi Khokhobashvili, (916) 445-4950
Arts Council Contact: Kimberly Brown, (916) 322-6413