NEA to award CSUSB prison arts program $15,000

NEA to award CSUSB prison arts program $15,000

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The Community-based Art program at Cal State San Bernardino is among the prestigious programs across the United States that will receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The grant will go to the CBA Prison Arts Collective, a program founded and directed by Annie Buckley, an associate professor of visual studies at CSUSB.

The Prison Arts Collective began as a pilot program between CSUSB and the California Institution for Men in March 2013. At that time, the university offered four weekly art classes, including three beginning level classes in painting, drawing, and printmaking and design, and one advanced class in portfolio development, to 45 incarcerated men.

Work is done on a mural at the California Institute for Men in Chino. Community-based Art at Cal State San Bernardino recieved a contract from the California Arts-in-Corretion Demonstration Program that will support the CBA and its Prison Arts Collective. Photo: Courtesy of Annie Buckley/Community-based Art

Work is done on a mural at the California Institute for Men in Chino. Community-based Art at Cal State San Bernardino recieved a contract from the California Arts-in-Corretion Demonstration Program that will support the CBA and its Prison Arts Collective. Photo: Courtesy of Annie Buckley/Community-based Art

Since then, the prison arts program has grown to 15, 10-week art classes and workshops in a variety of topics.

In that first year, about 30 men, under the guidance of four teaching artists, also worked together to create a 45-foot mural over a period of nine months.

The Prison Arts Collective will use the $15,000 grant to set up multidisciplinary workshops at the men’s and women’s prisons in Chino and create an online exhibition of how they make their art.

“This will allow us to collaborate with a guest artist,” Buckley said, “and to engage our diverse teaching team — including CSUSB students and alumni — in collaborative artmaking about a social issue with participants at the prison.”

The NEA grant comes through the organization’s Art Works category, which focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

NEA awards are extremely hard to come by, said Rachel Weiss, director of research and sponsored programs at CSUSB.

“It is incredibly competitive on a national level,” she said. “In nearly a decade here, I only remember one or two awards made to the institution from NEA, including this one.”

“The arts are for all of us,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “And by supporting organizations such as the Prison Arts Collective, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts. Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

Visit CSUSB’s Community-based Art/Prison Arts Collective’s website for more information on the program.

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