Coalition Building

Our National Collective

We recently hosted the inaugural gathering to explore the formation of a national collective — a virtual event to create relationships among artists, arts organizations, and arts practitioners to learn from each other, create shared language, and evolve an ecosystem for progress as our society works for non-punitive responses to harm.

This Collective is a shared initiative between Justice Arts Coalition (JAC) and the Arts Justice Safety Coalition (AJSC). JAC unites artists and allies inside and outside of prison to harness the transformative and liberatory power of the arts to reimagine justice. AJSC was launched in 2020 with the partnership of The Confined Arts, the Center for Court Innovation, and Conspiring for Good, and is made up of art programs and practitioners working at the intersection of art and justice reform to strengthen and sustain community resilience through advocacy and reform.

In the words of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “abolition is about presence, not absence.” We rely on each other in this work and cannot maximize the power of the arts in our movement towards abolition without broader synergy. The inaugural meeting was attended by artists and advocates from across the country. We discussed new ways of gathering and sharing resources, contribute ideas, and offer feedback to identity goals for a national collective. An organizing team is being formed to guide the Collective in its next steps.

To learn more or get involved, please email and request to join our Google Group, where information about these efforts is shared.

Wednesday Night Network Gatherings

At the start of the pandemic, JAC started hosting weekly Zoom gatherings to strengthen our community, provide support and learning opportunities for people whose work is focused on ensuring that incarcerated folks have access to opportunities for creative expression, 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 were 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. Our weekly Wednesday evening Zoom gatherings alternated between full group dialogue, guest presentations, and activities that deepen our sense of connection with each other and across our network. Wednesday night gatherings are currently on hiatus as we focus our efforts on the building of the National Collective.