The Arts in Prison Program, throughout several prisons in Kansas and Missouri, create life changing programs for prisoners – using art.
The Arts in Prison program believes that the practice of art in a group setting can greatly enhance positive thinking habits and and behaviors for prisoners and that these attitudes and self-adjustments can help with successful re-entry into society.
The mission statement of the Arts in Prison program is to: provide educational and personal growth opportunities through the arts for inmates, volunteers and community to motivate and inspire positive change. This program is designed to induce positive behavioral changes in inmates – this is very profound – as positive change can change imprisoned people into successful, participating, contributing members of the community that they will be released into.
Arts in Prison’s goals of increased self awareness, improved ability to work collaboratively, increased ability to practice empathy and increased cognitive thinking create a new reality for inmates as they prepare to return home.
This innovative program believes that it is possible for inmates to change their lives and that this can be done with proper role models, new skills, new attitudes and most importantly – a nonjudgmental atmosphere.
The Arts in Prison program offers training in music, writing, gardening, yoga, visual and performing arts, photography and the spoken word.
One of the more popular programs is the East Hill Singers. The male chorus is made up of inmates located at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kansas. The chorus began in 1996 and as of 2012, now has 50 inmate singers as well as volunteer singers from the surrounding community. The chorus not only performs within the correctional facility, four times per year they give public performances as well.
The inmates of the chorus are housed in the minimum security section of Lansing state prison called the East Unit. They are taught vocal technique and choral literature. But even more, they are learning collaboration skills, being respectful of other’s abilities and efforts and making and honoring commitments to the group and the groups goals.
Inmates gain confidence and feel pride in a job well done in creating music and being able to share that with the community. Many of the inmate singers often return to become volunteer singers once they are released from prison. They can come back and help mentor new inmate singers – sharing similar experiences and providing encouragement.
Arts in Prison is funded by private donations, corporations and grants. To learn more about how one can contribute to this wonderful program, please read more here.