California Arts Council Renames State Prison Arts Program ‘Transformative Arts’

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Arts Council has announced a name change for its state prison arts program, from Arts in Corrections to Transformative Arts. The new name is intended to better reflect the program’s values and to refocus the public perception of people experiencing incarceration.

The new name comes as part of a significant period of growth and change for prison arts programming in California, prioritizing efforts to break down barriers, challenge the status quo and create a culture shift within prison arts programming.

Transformative Arts Program Manager Mariana Moscoso and Program Analyst Roman Sanchez have spent the past two years engaging with prison arts organizations, artists, and members of the community via conferences, webinars, and surveys, gathering feedback and ideas for a new program name. The top five concepts were then sent via mail to program participants to make the final selection.

“We all know the power of words to shape our view of the world,” said Mariana Moscoso, Transformative Arts Program Manager. “It was important to us to shift the focus of the program, and its name, to something human-centered and positive, that incorporated the whole lives of our participants, which are complex and so much more than just their current experience. Art is a tool that opens up possibilities—that is the intention of this program, and now, the name speaks appropriately to that intention.”

Read more details about the program’s name change in a new California Arts Council blog written by Transformative Arts Program Manager Mariana Moscoso. 

About Transformative Arts
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 Transformative Arts 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 Transformative Arts website.

Media Inquiries:
Kimberly Brown
Public Affairs Specialist


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: Vice-Chair Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Stanlee Gatti, 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

Subscribe to the California ArtBeat weekly newsletter

Skip to content