As we commence our fourth year facilitating Arts in Corrections programs throughout the state, we are proud to announce the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections has doubled its investment in the Alliance for California Traditional Arts by expanding our offerings in seven different regions across the state for the 2017-2018 contract period.
ACTA will now be able to bring a new cohort of artists into this meaningful work, enhancing inmates’ creative abilities across California to tell their own stories, carry their cultures, and build bridges across racial, ethnic, and cultural divides—necessary tools for wellness and community transformation in 21st century America.
Founding Director Amy Kitchener states, “ACTA has innovated on the standard practices of arts in corrections for California’s inmates by employing traditional and tradition-based artists of color rooted in communities who feel called to re-weave the fabric of their communities by offering familial artistic practices to their incarcerated brothers and sisters. These artists are bringing culture, aesthetics, and community to foster a sense of belonging and “home” into a space of personal isolation. ACTA’s workshops lead to a sense of cultural belonging for many inmates, offering a bridge between cultural and social divides by interacting, creating, and understanding a range of deep cultural practice.”
Drawing on 20 years of experience working with traditional artists and cultural communities across the state, we look forward to fine-tuning our facilitation of ACTA’s AIC programs, as well as broadening the scope of traditional arts-based programming and the unique qualities it offers within correctional and rehabilitative institutions across California.
Some of the new programming facilitated by ACTA include classes like Songwriting and Singing with Gabriel Gonzalez and Matt Amper, artists who have led workshops for our Building Healthy Communities work in Boyle Heights, and Visual Poetry and Assemblage with Ofelia Esparza, a master altar-maker in our Apprenticeship Program, with her daughter Rosanna Esparza Ahrens, who has also collaborated with ACTA. Other classes include Guitar Ensemble: Mexican and North American Roots Music (Mary Alfaro and Lorenzo Martinez); Art Builds Us: Understanding and Making Murals (Wenceslao Quiroz); Tell You Own Story (Grace ‘Megumi’ Fleming); Chorus (Jose Jesus Hernandez); and, Chicano Theater (Luis “Xago” Juarez and Alfredo Avila), among others.
In addition to returning to the 7 state prisons in which we are already working, the 9 new facilities that ACTA will be reaching through Arts in Corrections programming are marked in bold below, totaling 16 facilities altogether:
- Avenal State Prison (Avenal)
- California City Correctional Facility (California City)
- California Correctional Institution (Tehachapi)
- California Institution for Men (Chino)
- California Institution for Women (Corona)
- California Rehabilitation Center (Norco)
- California State Prison (Corcoran)
- California State Prison, Los Angeles County (Lancaster)
- Central California Women’s Facility (Chowchilla)
- Correctional Training Facility (Soledad)
- Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (Blythe)
- Ironwood State Prison (Blythe)
- Pleasant Valley State Prison (Coalinga)
- Salinas Valley State Prison (Soledad)
- Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (Corcoran)
- Valley State Prison (Chowchilla)
Classes will launch in the fall and run for one to two 13-week sessions totaling 60 thirteen-week artistic residencies, ending in the summer of 2018. Keep up with ACTA as we continue to plan and refine our program; Contact Arts in Corrections Project Coordinator Marisa Martinez for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full California Arts Council press release here.