Coalition Building

Weekly Network Gatherings

Through JAC’s current coalition building efforts, our aim is to strengthen our community and form a bridge for people not involved in this work to see and understand the urgency of what is happening inside facilities in light of COVID-19. We are thinking about the ways in which we, as artists, advocates, and allies, can inspire action on the outside and continue to provide people inside with opportunities for creative expression, and have organized task forces based on our coalition members’ areas of interest and expertise. Our weekly Wednesday evening Zoom gatherings alternate between full group dialogue and activities that deepen our sense of connection with each other and across our network, and task force breakout sessions. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Cat at justiceartscoalitioninfo1@gmail.com and request to join our Google Group, where information about these efforts is shared.

Active task forces include:

  • RESOURCE-SHARING AND FINDING FUNDING SOURCES – Focused on watching the funding landscape. Group will consist of development folks who are skilled in making connections and finding the money; those knowledgeable in grant writing, fundraising, pulling in money to support the work of other focus groups.

  • AMPLIFYING VOICES FROM INSIDE

    • Pooling our independent lists of contacts inside facilities, as well as reaching out to other organizations to acquire more contacts, to create a unified database of people inside facilities. The idea is to expand our access to incarcerated voices and stories from across the country.

    • This is vital now as teaching artists do not currently have access inside prisons and jail facilities. JAC is unique in that we are still able to make contact with those incarcerated. Since we do not have any programs inside, our contact is not suspended. Our current capacity is not large enough to handle the work of sending letters, emails, making phone calls (if possible) to an expanded prisoner database. However in expanding our network, can we in turn expand our volunteer capacity for communicating with people inside and become a channel for sharing information from the inside to teaching artists?

    • How can we broadcast the stories of the people inside? How can we ensure we’re focusing on the women and children who are incarcerated as well as the men? How can we connect with and talk about the families of the incarcerated people in the network? By taking everyone into account, the concentric circles necessary to advancing the reach of the movement will form.

  • CROSS-PROGRAM SUPPORT/ POLLINATION – How can we direct, inform, educate, serve, build upon the connections between existing programs? How can we try to disseminate information through this work? How can we grow our network and reach out to other teaching artist groups outside of the JAC network? What can we contribute that is new? The role from the inside is that of a navigator. We don’t want to consider ourselves as the creators of programming/reinventing the wheel. Rather, we at JAC are meant to hold programs together, create a bridge.

  • ALTERNATIVE ED/DISTANCE PROGRAMMING – What programs have gained access to their participants and students? What kinds of tools and in-roads are some facilities approving that may be viable options to request at other facilities where access is still fully denied? How do we integrate restorative justice, and acts of healing into our work? Perhaps there may be more openness from DoC to allow some form of communication as a concession for the mismanagement of the pandemic.

  • DATA MINING – Collecting data that supports our work to expand opportunities for creative expression within carceral institutions.

Monthly Distance Learning/Alternative Programming Curricula Discussions

JAC holds monthly discussions about curriculum for remote arts instruction and programming.

We usually invite 3-5 teaching artists to share how they have modified their materials/assignments for correspondence-based instruction, how they provide feedback to students, and the biggest challenges they have faced during this shift. We will also discuss whether they are including assignments that allow students to reflect and react to the current events of Covid and the protests for racial justice. Join us to learn from these speakers and share your experience, whether you are currently providing distance programming, just getting started, or aren’t currently teaching but want to learn strategies for developing alternative programming. Calls usually run 90 minutes but feel free to join us for any length of time. To join our Google Group and receive notifications about these meetings, and/or to If you would like to present a few sample lesson plans, worksheets, student responses, student feedback, etc., please email Cat at justiceartscoalitioninfo1@gmail.com.