California Arts Council Issues New Arts in Corrections Report

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Arts Council released today the findings of a needs assessment and process and impact evaluation of the state agency’s Arts in Corrections program.

The report, Flowers Grown in Concrete: Exploring the Healing Power of the Arts for People Experiencing Incarceration—demonstrates three major findings for California’s prison-based arts programming and instruction, with the objective of enhancing and expanding student-centered rehabilitation and reintegration efforts in the future:

1. People experiencing incarceration have endured trauma.

2. Family relationships are strengthened through Arts in Corrections programming.

3. Individuals’ connection to an arts community and important reentry services continues after prison through the programming provided by Arts in Corrections that aids participants in succeeding after incarceration.

The report was authored by a research team at the University of Wisconsin Justice Lab, in partnership with Dr. Linda Burton, Dean of the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. Contents include interviews with program participants and Coordinating Organization teaching artists and staff on the impact and value of Arts in Corrections, curriculum adaptations during COVID-19, and course retention and completion rate data.

The complete report can be viewed online at this link.

“This report exemplifies the power of the arts to remind us of our shared humanity, especially during this global pandemic,” said Arts in Corrections Program Manager Mariana Moscoso. “Alternative programming let our participants know we were thinking of them and that their lives and creativity mattered, even if we are not physically there to provide that programming.”

Report contributors include:

  • Dr. John M. Eason, Associate Professor
    University of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Chloe Haimson
    University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Dr. Tarsha Herelle
    University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Major Eason
    Swarthmore College

More details about this report can be found in a new California Arts Council blog written by Arts in Corrections Program Manager Mariana Moscoso.

About Arts in Corrections
Administered by the California Arts Council and made possible via an interagency agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), California’s Transformative Arts program is designed to have a positive impact on the social and emotional well-being of people in incarceration. Arts education can increase critical thinking skills, build positive relationships and promote meaningful interactions between participants and their peers, facility staff, loved ones, and other individuals and community groups both inside and outside of the boundaries of their institutions.

The Arts in Corrections program upholds the following values:

  • People experiencing incarceration are deserving of dignity and respect.  
  • Policies should dismantle the root causes of incarceration. 
  • Community-based interventions reduce harm and make communities safer by replacing state-sanctioned systems of retribution and punishment. 
  • Individual and collective accountability for harm, and the healing of trauma, can create a more safe and just society for all.

Services provided span the full spectrum of art disciplines, with organizations offering instruction in visual; literary; media; performing; and cultural, folk and traditional arts. Since the program’s re-launch in the 2013-14 fiscal year, arts programming has grown to reach all 35 state adult correctional institutions.

For more information about the program, including a list of all current Coordinating Organizations, visit the Arts in Corrections website.

Media Inquiries:
Kimberly Brown
Public Affairs Specialist

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The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez, Vice Chair Kathleen Gallegos, Jodie Evans, Jaime Galli, Stanlee Gatti, Donn K. Harris, Alex Israel, Consuelo Montoya, and Jonathan Moscone. Learn more at

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, visit

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