The Art for Justice Fund, created by Agnes Gund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a five-year initiative that uniquely connects the ingenuity of criminal justice advocates and the creativity of artists to address the crisis of mass incarceration in America.
“My hope is that the work supported by the Art for Justice Fund will help create a groundswell that drives reforms well beyond these specific programs,” said Agnes Gund. “The problem of mass incarceration touches every community across the country, and we need to work together to find creative solutions to build a better, safer future for all our children.”
Storycatchers has received a Prison and Diversion Arts Award from the Art for Justice Fund to expand Changing Voices, the company’s post-release employment program. Storycatchers launched Changing Voices in 2014, and has steadily expanded the program from 20 hours per week for 18 weeks that first summer to a year-round employment resource offering 30 hours per week to up to 32 participants at a time.
Young people between the ages of 17 and 24 work in groups of 8-10 with trained Storycatchers teaching artists to write, develop, and perform original musicals inspired by their personal stories. Through the company’s award-winning, trauma-informed approach to creative youth development, adolescents and young adults navigating reentry receive the support they need to become leaders and mentors.
“We are deeply grateful to Ms. Gund and the Art for Justice Fund for their visionary approach to criminal justice reform,” said Priya Shah, the company’s Executive Director, “and for Ms. Gund’s recognition of the critical role that the arts can play.”
Storycatchers Theatre is proud that the Changing Voices program is part of the Art for Justice Fund initiative that was created to support innovative advocacy and program interventions aimed at safely reducing prison populations in key states, strengthening education and employment opportunities post-prison, and supporting artistic initiatives that bear witness to and humanize the experiences of those impacted by the system. For more information, visit www.artforjusticefund.org.