The Confined Arts


The Confined Arts (TCA) is a program that cultivates and showcases the talents and creative voices of artists directly impacted by mass incarceration and intersecting social justice issues. TCA enables artists to express their voices through the visual and performing arts, poetry, and music as a means to abolish inhumane narratives and socially degrading stigmas that are used to describe the past experiences and limit the futures of individuals impacted by incarceration. Through artistry, collaborative activism, research, education and training, TCA equips artists to influence policy change, and use their artistry and knowledge to advocate for a world anchored on empathy and saturated with healing and prevention-based policies.



TCA has a 2-part mission:

  1. Counter and change the dehumanizing narratives that are driving criminal justice policy to empathy based narratives that enable the imagination and implementation of scenarios and solutions transcending the stigmatizing and unjust  status quo;
  2. Recognize and elevate the role of the arts in touching people emotionally, fostering human connection, building empathy, bridging worlds, changing the hearts and minds of people able to influence policy, and building activism, envisioning a world different from the one currently existing and enabling people to make it a reality.



The role of art in activism must be elevated to the level of its capacity to change the hearts and minds of people. Art is at the forefront of change. The process begins when we imagine a new world, one that is devoid of stigma and inequality. Resourceful artistic creativity within social change is one of the most influential and sometimes overlooked methods of problem solving. When rational lived experiences are not enough to change people's minds, attitudes, and behavior, art and popular culture have the potential to touch people on deeper levels of consciousness.


How We Work 

The Confined Arts forms strategic collaborations enabling multi-dimensional advocacy strategies. With the help of our partners, we are in a unique position to build the capacity for:

  • Artists who are directly impacted by the criminal legal system to become more effective advocates 
    • By providing them with advocacy tools 
      • By connecting them to opportunities to utilize their artistry for ongoing advocacy efforts 
      • By honing artistic craft to create effective and impactful artistry 
      • By advising them on connecting content to form for increased effectiveness
      • Network building & social capital (relationship building)
      • Research access
    • By providing to them with leadership training/Development 
      • By providing to them with entrepreneurial support
      • By providing to them with Artistic Development Support  


  • Students and Researchers at Columbia University to create and conduct more accurate and culturally responsive/aware data and methodologies 
    • By fostering relationships where researchers and students can preliminarily discuss research topics, and strategies with people who are directly impacted by issues they are researching
    • By providing opportunities to conduct and apply research 


  • Advocates and advocacy organizations to integrate more creative and artistic methods of strategic engagement to advance the outcomes of their ongoing advocacy efforts
    • By fostering relationships between artists who are directly impacted and advocates 
    • By designing projects that convert statistics, stories, etc. into living, emotional testimonies that encourage a call to action
    • By working directly with artists and advocates who are currently incarcerated to develop grassroots strategies for policy engagement


To learn more about The Confined Arts, please visit our website.