California Arts Council Offers Funding for Development of Prison Arts Programs

Pictured: Visual arts at the California Institution for Women, led by instructors Ashley Woods and Nancy Huitzil, provided by the Prison Arts Collective at California State University San Bernardino. Photo by Peter Merts.

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Arts Council has opened a new Request for Proposals for its Arts in Corrections program, intended to break down the barriers of prison arts programming and work in state correctional settings through support for projects aimed at program development.

Proposals may include professional development, mentorship, and training for organizations and teaching artists; training tool development; curriculum development; program assessment and evaluation; or innovative projects that seek to expand or challenge the status quo of arts education in state correctional facilities. Funding is available to both current Arts in Corrections Coordinating Organizations and to organizations interested in providing arts programming through the California Arts Council’s Arts in Corrections program in the future.

“This RFP is distinctive from those in our program’s past, and even from the programming RFP opened last month,” said Mariana Moscoso, Arts in Corrections Interim Program Manager. “Instead of a funding opportunity for new AIC workshops, this is an opportunity for proposals that will build the program’s capacity, break the mold and hold us to a higher standard. These projects will build skills for current and potential partners and explore new avenues for creative education to meet interpersonal and social transformation.”

Examples of proposed projects include the development of online training tools for new AIC Coordinating Organizations, a focus on the intersectionality between an art form and a subject not traditionally considered an art form (such as gardening or meditation), projects that build public awareness and support for prison arts programming, dispel myths about people in incarceration, or center on transformative justice approaches and methods.

Administered by the California Arts Council and made possible via an interagency agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), California’s Arts in Corrections program is designed to have a positive impact on the behavior and attitudes 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 institution.

Services provided span the full spectrum of art disciplines, with organizations offering instruction in visual; literary; media; performing; and cultural, folk and traditional arts. Now in its sixth year, arts programming has grown to reach all 35 state adult correctional institutions. For more information about the program, visit the California Arts in Corrections website.

As part of the California Arts Council’s effort to increase access, equity, and inclusion within its programs, the RFP includes plain-language and templated forms to simplify the submission process. Optional anonymous feedback and demographic surveys are also included to help assess the program’s equitable practices, clarity, and accessibility.

“California’s Arts in Corrections program is a model recognized across the globe for its approach to strengthening rehabilitation through arts and culture,” said Anne Bown-Crawford, California Arts Council. “As leaders in the field, it is our duty to look forward, think ahead, and think innovatively. The projects resulting from this RFP will be instrumental in reinforcing that momentum.”

Read the Program Development Request for Proposals and download available attachments here.

Questions regarding the RFP may be submitted through a two-round public inquiry process, due by 9 a.m. PDT on March 27 and April 8. Responses will be posted online at 11 a.m. PDT on March 29 and April 10, respectively.

The final deadline for submitting project proposals is April 22 at 4 p.m. PDT.
A separate RFP for Arts in Corrections Coordinating Organizations is open concurrently, with funding available for new arts workshops at state correctional facilities. The deadline for that RFP is April 8.

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The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Juan Devis, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at

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

Kimberly Brown

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