Coalition Building

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 the following task forces based on our coalition members’ areas of interest and expertise. Our weekly Wednesday evening Zoom gatherings alternate between full group dialogue and task force breakouts. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Cat at and request to join our Google group, where information about these efforts is shared.

  • 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.


    • 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.

  • LEGAL AND RE-ENTRY ORGANIZING – The very urgent and necessary push to decarcerate and thin the prison population brings up tasks and issues surrounding re-entry: ensuring people have places to immediately self-quarantine and live, access to resources for food, money, employment, etc. Can we connect with organizations currently working in re-entry? This may (maybe should) overlap with prisoner database expansion and amplifying voices from inside as no one on the outside can better speak to the needs of those incarcerated than people who have been there.