Arts in Prison uses the arts to inspire positive change in the incarcerated, to reduce
recidivism, and to reconnect ex-offenders with their communities.
Our Guiding Principles:
- We believe that it is possible for offenders to change their lives;
- We believe that, in addition to new skills and attitudes, offenders need an inclusive, non-judgemental atmosphere in order to change;
- We believe that involving trained community volunteers delivering arts classes and programs provides effective mentoring and helps offenders shape their behavior patterns;
- We believe that powerful experiences through various art forms can help transform the thinking and aspirations of offenders, volunteers and community.
Elvera Voth organized the East Hill Singers, a men’s chorus of inmates from Lansing Correctional Facility and volunteer singers from the Kansas City area, in 1995. They gave their first performance outside the walls in 1996 at Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, KS.
The chorus revealed undeveloped talents in the prison population and the need for arts programming to tap into these latent gifts as an empowering and creative tool for rehabilitation. In 1998 maestro Robert Shaw traveled to Newton, KS to conduct a sing-along concert to benefit Voth’s fledgling organization. That year, Arts in Prison was incorporated as a not-for-profit, tax exempt, 501(c)3 organization.
Since then Arts in Prison has offered programming in music, writing, gardening, yoga, visual and performing arts in all units at Lansing Correctional Facility as well as at the Topeka Correctional Facility, The United Sates Penitentiary at Leavenworth, and juvenile detention centers in the area.
Arts in Prison is funded by private donations, corporations and grants. Arts in Prison is currently funded by donations and grants from the Arts KC Fund, the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, the Francis Family Foundation, the Kansas Humanities Council and Storage Mart.