Art for a New Future: National Convening 2021

Art for a New Future: Justice Arts Coalition’s 2021 National Convening 

(June 24-26, 2021 online, 11:30am – 4:30pm EST daily)

The JAC community came together for interactive and embodied art experiences, skill-sharing, and conversation. Participants learned, created, and connected, harnessing the liberatory power of the arts as we reimagine justice.

Plenary 1: In Conversation with Nicole Fleetwood, Ndume Olatushani, Rachel Nelson, moderated by Sabra Williams.

Plenary 2: “Abolition is About Making Things” moderated by Mariame Kaba. Featuring Rachel Wallis, Monica Trinidad, Naima Thomas, Bianca Diaz, and Neta Bomani

Plenary 3:Poverty Scholarship: Poor People-Led Theory, Art, Words, and Tears Across Mama Earth” with Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia and POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE.

Publicly available content from the convening:

On YouTube, we have posted the Welcome Session from Day 1. If you want to participate in a community art project created by currently incarcerated artist Carla Joan Simmons, head here. Listen to featured interviews with JAC Network artists on Soundcloud here!

Every other Friday, starting August 6th, we’ll be rotating recordings of convening sessions. Enjoy Walking the Beat: Using a Design Thinking Framework to Ideate Alternatives to PolicingDescription below.

Walking the Beat is an applied and devised theater project where we study, from our curated digital library, the history of policing, law as a constructor of race, the policing of social movements, the way we police each other, and radical imagination to create alternative realities and cultures of care. We use a design thinking framework to build ensemble and a participatory approach to generating ideas and material. We first empathize and use stories, story circles, and interviews to learn about each other, document our experiences, and conduct field work to learn about what matters to those around us, concerning public safety. Then we define the problem in its essence. Do people want to get rid of police or do they want to feel safe? Is it anger they are feeling or is it grief? Throughout this process we are writing, documenting, and developing multimedia segments reflective of our creative process. In this conference presentation, we will talk about Walking the Beat and lead participants through some of the techniques we use for generating art and scaffolding difficult discussion. That said, we assert, creativity is a mindset; it is not necessitated by creating art works. Creativity is a required skill to build the world we want to live in.


View the full schedule of sessions. 

All workshops, discussions, and performances aligned with one or more of the central themes and core values of Art for a New Future:

  • Art as Abolition: the arts as a pathway for communities to imagine and build worlds beyond policing and incarceration; art as a tool for advocacy, nurturing community.
  • Art for All: increasing access to creative opportunities within carceral institutions; pedagogy; funding; trauma-informed arts education.
  • Solidarity and Community: building and nourishing connections and resilient relationships across our network.
  • Participatory learning: learning through and within community, through embodiment, through creative practice; artistic practice as a tool for healing, growth, connection, and fueling our radical imaginations.

Missed JAC’s Art for a New Future: 2021 National Convening?

Thank you to everyone who attended Art For A New Future! If you happened to miss it but are interested in watching the recordings of the sessions, the JAC team has put together an opportunity for donors to gain access to the entire collection of over 30 recordings of workshop, performance, and panel discussions by donating $50 or more by August 30th.

Art For A New Future Spotify Playlist Available Now: Thank you to everyone who submitted songs through our Whova request to create this Spotify playlist. A representation of the community felt during the Art For A New Future convening, this playlist was created for and by you! If you did not get a chance to submit a song, you can do so by sending us the name of the song and artist here. Happy listening!

Read our blog reflecting on the convening here.

It was essential to our values and mission that every effort was made for the convening to be as accessible and inclusive as possible. We are so grateful to HEARD DCPro Bono ASL, and Gloria Delgadillo, L. Miller, and Pao Lebron for helping us move toward full accessibility by providing ASL and Spanish language interpretation!

Thank you to the Convening Planning Team: Wendy Jason, Robin McNulty, Katie Adams, Jessie Glover, Kate Stank, Kanyinsola Anifowoshe, Page Dukes, Katherine Frost, Melissa Wang, Alden Eckman, Hunter Isenstein, Richael Faithful, Elida Ledesma, and Jojo Donovan. Thank you to all the speakers, facilitators, and panelists for their incredible sessions. And thank you, of course, to all of the attendees and supporters who make this work possible!