News, Resources, and More
Do you have a loved one in prison?
We have put together this creative care package for people, with the hope that it will help them connect to their creative selves. Feel free to take, use, and distribute!
Are you an artist?
Are you a returned citizen?
Here is our Arts and Culture Resource Guide for central Ohio! (and more on the way, for other regions in Ohio.)
Interested in learning more?
You can find all kinds of news articles, digital storytelling, and other information below.
Call for art in all mediums: Bridging the Distance
Aug. 31, 2021
Calling all justice-impacted Ohio artists! As our lives continue to be disrupted by and shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will host this exhibition to explore things that keep us apart, things that allow us to be connected, and the resourceful ways we adapt to and resist isolation and separation.
OPAC Update, August 2021
Aug. 26, 2021
"Art rages to be born from within me and is my refuge!"
Columbus group hosts poster exhibit featuring fomerly incarcerated artists
Aug. 12, 2021
"I thought it was a good idea and a way for those inside to get their message out to the outside world. And for those of us on the outside to let people know who we are."
Writers in Residence is Hiring!
July 28, 2021
Are you the right person to join their staff as a teaching artist, a graphic designer, or their full-time Director of Re-Entry, Community Outreach, and Advocacy?
Poetic Reentry: From A Rooftop, A Beacon Of Light
July 27, 2021
"In a space of incarceration, everybody's got their guard up. So with me with writing, now I can express myself."
Radio OPAC: Music Breaks Barriers
June 23, 2021
"I recognize that there are stories that are yet untold that if they were told, they would transform all those that would hear them." - Valerie Colman
Radio OPAC: Stories Are Medicine
May 12, 2021
"Putting it on paper freed me from what was tying me down."
Call for Entries: ART FOR A NEW FUTURE
April 27, 2021
Art for a New Future will bring together artists impacted by criminal legal systems, teaching artists, arts advocates, and allies to build community around our shared commitment to reimagining justice through the arts.
Radio OPAC: Art Moves You
April 14, 2021
"The trustbuilding process, taking the time...and letting the space be responsive and representative of the people who are in the room."
Radio OPAC with Eric Gardenhire, Charlsie Banks, and Pam Braddy
Feb. 24, 2021
"They want a seat at the table. They don't want to be defined by their crime. They want to be seen as a person, an artist. They want the artwork to speak for itself."
February 2021 Newsletter
Feb. 16, 2021
“Watching and being part of a group of individuals, and to have a voice, and hopefully an impact on upcoming doctors is a privilege I will never forget.”
Radio OPAC with Sheila Okere
Feb. 3, 2021
"Not seeing people through a glass window, but actually be in the room with them."
January 2021 Newsletter - Part 2
Jan. 22, 2021
“You can always educate yourself. You can always develop yourself. You don’t need nobody to tell you, you know, hey, work on you."
Radio OPAC with Sheirra Haines
Jan. 13, 2021
"With everything going on today, it's important we check in on our heart."
January 2021 Newsletter - Part 1
Jan. 4, 2021
"Music has pretty much been a lifeline."
Radio OPAC with Vicky Gaston
Dec. 9, 2020
"Many say that artistry kept them sane, gave them a sense of purpose, and helped them to thrive and in some cases flourish."
Radio OPAC with Mary Cohen
Dec. 2, 2020
"This is the time to think about music education in new ways."
Radio OPAC with Sara Abou Rashed
Nov. 25, 2020
"My strength comes from my mother, it comes from my experiences, from history, ancestry, politics...but also from the fact that I stopped looking at my identity as a limitation, and I truly truly embrace it now."
Newsletter - November 2020
Nov. 22, 2020
"I was lucky enough to stumble upon the fact one day that poetry can be very healing."
Radio OPAC with Emily Steinmetz
Nov. 18, 2020
"I think if you go into a prison and really sit, and listen...you begin to understand how easily we could be in different places, that we could be in each other's shoes."
Radio OPAC with Wendy Jason
Nov. 11, 2020
"At the core of this is relationships - and art is a vehicle to create connection."
Radio OPAC with Ethan Heard and Daniel Schlosberg of Heartbeat Opera
Oct. 21, 2020
The experience "refreshed, for me...that [singing together] - something I often take for granted - actually satisfies a deep human need to connect, and share, and harmonize."
Radio OPAC with Michael Powell
Oct. 14, 2020
"My supporters had a grim outlook on themselves, but a rich outlook on me."
Radio OPAC with Holly Smith
Oct. 7, 2020
"People who have been through trauma tend to become very narrow in their emotional experiences and in their memory...using the arts can help to expand."
Radio OPAC with Barbara Fant
Sept. 30, 2020
"I think the only way we can actually overcome something is to face it, and face it head on."
Radio OPAC with Kari Gunter-Seymour, Ohio's Poet Laureate
Sept. 23, 2020
"I was lucky enough to stumble upon the fact one day that poetry can be very healing."
Radio OPAC with Raymond Smith and Mary Johnson
Aug. 28, 2020
"Redirecting ourselves to get back on track, and loving ourselves to get to where we were."
Radio OPAC with Dr. Chris Dum
Aug. 21, 2020
"There is so much that is out of our control, and we are all connected in very important ways, and we can do a lot to help other people in our lives - and I try to bring that through my work."
Radio OPAC with Larry Smith
Aug. 14, 2020
"When we ask people to get to the essence of who they are...constraint doesn't get in the way of creativity, it fuels creativity."
Radio OPAC with Heidi Arnold
Aug. 7, 2020
"What I really wanted to do was to let the voices of the women be heard."
Bringing the Arts to Prison, Even in a Pandemic
Aug. 5, 2020
“Everything we’re doing [at RTA], it’s to feel like we’re still with the participants even if we’re not there in body.”
Radio OPAC with Deron Bell
July 31, 2020
"It's all about getting to the why and preventing harm, or repairing it."
Radio OPAC with David Brown
July 24, 2020
"The key was that I didn't go in with a prescribed set list of music. The goal was not to teach them to read music and to perform music beautifully....for me it was about storytelling and finding songs that told their stories."
Radio OPAC with Jonathan Platt and Mary Evans
July 17, 2020
"The magicality of the voice."
July 2020 Newsletter
July 10, 2020
"I use the arts to have safe but necessary conversations to bring about systematic change."
Radio OPAC with Richard Duarte Brown
July 10, 2020
"We feel like controlling people is a way to lead them, but they've been controlled for so long....If they can discern a person is genuine or authentic or honest about who they are...they'll be suprised they noticed something they care about."
Radio OPAC with Dr. Patrice Palmer
June 26, 2020
"Art helps me look at my life and I can express things and talk about them - even painful things."
Radio OPAC with Alma Robinson
June 19, 2020
"We convinced the legislature that [the arts] are cheap medicine."
Radio OPAC with Annette Dominguez
June 12, 2020
"These women become ambassadors. They make the most of it (when people come in to bring new skills and opportunities), they learn to trust, and they just grow."
Radio OPAC with Edward A Julian Sr.
June 5, 2020
"We've got to start somewhere. Then we've got to believe we can make that change. And we become by putting in the work."
Black Lives Matter.
June 5, 2020
We stand against systemic racism and violence and we stand with those who oppose them. We believe in the humanity, dignity, and expressive capacity of every person, incarcerated and free.
Radio OPAC with Evan Rausch
May 29, 2020
"We have amazing artists and musicians [in our program] who need to create."
Radio OPAC with Nicole Fleetwood
May 22, 2020
“The history of people being held in captivity is the history of people making art and dreaming of freedom.”
OPAC Creative Care Package
May 20, 2020
Send writing prompts, drawing prompts, or other creative prompts to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line " OPAC Creative Care Package."
"Inmates at Ohio Reformatory for Women Turn Their Experiences Into Music"
May 15, 2020
"The theme was resiliency and overcoming, which is something they’ve all had to do in their lives."
Radio OPAC with Nick D'Andrea, Amber Knicole, and Aimee Wissman
May 15, 2020
"They came ready to work, ready to create, ready to heal and move forward and make that music."
Radio OPAC with Drea Mitchell
May 8, 2020
"As long as I have a song in my heart, I'm going to find way to sing and create melody."
Radio OPAC with Zachary Thomas
April 24, 2020
"Encouragement, trust, and respect are huge - and always build one on top of the other."
Radio OPAC with Gwen Garth
April 17, 2020
"I was born to do this, and I have no Plan B."
When The Arts Go Dark Inside Correctional Facilities, Poetic Justice Goes Old School
April 15, 2020
"Poetry gives women who are incarcerated a voice, and by having a voice, they can begin to have hope, and by having hope, they can begin to change."
Radio OPAC with Zach Ruppel
April 10, 2020
Jessie speaks with Zach Ruppel of Central Ohio Restored Citizens Collaborative about art as the antithesis of othering, and our dreams for arts-infused and arts-informed re-entry experiences.
April 2020 Newsletter
April 5, 2020
"You never know how talented you are until you sit down."
Radio OPAC with Aimee Wissman, Kamisha Thomas, and Latisha Ellis
April 3, 2020
Weekly, Fridays at 11am EST, on Facebook and Instagram Live
Aimee Wissman speaks about Ohio Prison Arts Connection to the Wexner Center
April 2, 2020
Curator's Tour from Returning Artists Guild
April 2, 2020
Work by formerly incarcerated artists that was going to be included in the (now postponed) April 3 statewide gathering at the Wexner Center. Curated by Aimee Wissman of Returning Artists Guild. Follow the Returning Artists Guild on Instagram and Facebook.
Radio OPAC, first edition
March 27, 2020
Introducing a new weekly series of stories, performances, and learning opportunities. Fridays at 11am EST on Facebook and Instagram Live.
Call for Participation: The pARTner Project
March 25, 2020
Unlike typical penpal programs, the pARTner project’s focus on the arts provides an immediate point of connection — a common ground shared by all who have felt the power of creative expression in shaping who we are, how we see the world around us, and how we see ourselves.
Our 2020 Statewide Gathering is postponed.
March 13, 2020
Watch for updates - we will announce a new date when we are able to do so.
"Through the Wire" exhibition recap
March 8, 2020
A collaboration between the Returning Artists Guild, Fringe Coffee House, and the Ohio Innocence Project - art exhibition, performances, and advocacy.
February 2020 Newsletter
Feb. 28, 2020
"I'm gonna take everything I learned in this class home with me."
Take Your Freedom: A Play About Slavery Pushes Boundaries in a New York Prison
Feb. 22, 2020
“You just try to feel how uncomfortable can this get, how much can you push the envelope to create meaningful art, to create dialogue, to bring up issues without going too far given the environment.”
Excerpt from The Hamilton Project at Marion Correctional
Feb. 17, 2020
Call for Entry: Trust the Process at Fresh AIR Gallery
Feb. 3, 2020
In creating and submitting work for this exhibit, artists are encouraged to trust the process, whatever form that takes. Show us your process, your journey, your voice, your art! The deadline for submission is May 31, 2020.
January 2020 Newsletter
Jan. 26, 2020
"You have all these emotions inside you, and you want to get them out, and you create this beautiful art or you write this story...or you put together this collage...and you have this thing, this way of getting that thing out."
First Artist in Residence at a DA’s Office Explores Human Toll of Incarceration
Jan. 16, 2020
"Because most of the organization’s murals are created on fabric (in sections) and then applied to walls, many incarcerated individuals participate in the art-making process, even though some of them will never see the completed public works once they are installed in the “outside” world."
December 2019 Newsletter
Dec. 26, 2019
"This is the first time I have stepped this far out of my comfort zone and then found it safe and fun."
The Room Where It Happens: Performing Hamilton In Prison
Dec. 24, 2019
"I think even though I am sentenced in prison, I still can write my narrative. You know, it’s this small window in my life where I’ve made this mistake that I strive to reconcile, that I strive to make an atonement."
November 2019 Newsletter
Nov. 30, 2019
"Through theater I've learned about my anger, my impatience, my reliance on others...but most of all I learned about a love for myself and a way to forgive myself."
October 2019 Newsletter
Oct. 29, 2019
"Life sentences are what we speak into each other's lives to bring about right thinking and right action."
September 2019 Newsletter
Sept. 8, 2019
“Seeing the work of other artists awakens my imagination and motivation to use my gift."
Some of SC's most notorious convicts are studying music in maximum-security prison
April 13, 2019
“One family member made a comment at end that this was just amazing,” he recalled. “‘Out on the street, I would have paid $100 to see an event like this.’”
A Role for Theatre in Criminal Justice?
Jan. 2, 2019
"When you get to Shakespeare, it’s like being free for two and a half hours. It’s like you’ve been holding your breath all week, and when you walk into the auditorium for rehearsal you can finally exhale."
On-going Arts-Based, Educational and Therapeutic Workshop Program
Jan. 1, 2019
DU PAI workshops provide high-quality therapeutic arts instruction in facilities across Colorado. Participants are empowered through workshops that focus on topics such as playwriting, ensemble theatre, arts and spirituality, and more.
The Power of a Theater Performance in Prison
July 29, 2018
“It helped me to get my humanity back, to let me know that I wasn’t as bad as the decision that I had made.”
Incarcerated Women Find Solace in Clay Making with InsideOut Creatives
May 8, 2018
Empowerment, that’s the buzzword, but it really does begin to empower them,” Tinapple says. “They think, ‘Oh, if I could do this, what else could I do that I didn’t think I could?'”
Beethoven's 200-Year-Old 'Fidelio' Enters Today's Prisons
May 4, 2018
Three prison choirs in Ohio collaborate with a New York opera company. "These choirs are about accessing humanity through community."
Inside-out looks to break down cell walls
April 9, 2018
“Every semester that I’m here somebody says to me that they learn more about themselves and about the other group than they did before and that’s the purpose,”
Exactly what gets a book banned from prison, is one US state's spreadsheet
Jan. 17, 2018
Books are important for everyone, but access to books is crucial for prisoners. Inmates have no or very limited access to the internet, so reading is a way to stay connected to society, if not to pass the time.
Program helps inmates find peace in prison
Jan. 2, 2018
"We go out in this compound that can be so negative and we can change things here. Negativity spreads, but so does positivity."
Otterbein programs empower the incarcerated
Dec. 28, 2017
“There are people in prison who are working hard to be agents in their own transformation and rehabilitation,” says Glover. “I see people who are grateful and are striving.”
Transforming Inmates Through the Drama of Shakespeare
Oct. 17, 2017
"Prison theater programs can be a crucible for transformation," he [Jonathon Shailor] said. "Prison theater programs are places of refuge where the imaginations, hopes, and humanity of the incarcerated can be more fully expressed."
Columbus resident Piper Kerman talks prison inequalities ahead of Ohio State engagement
Jan. 27, 2017
“Unfortunately...two Americans cannot count on being treated the same way in the criminal justice system — which is our expectation under law.”
How drama is helping prisoners to change Lebanon's penal code
Jan. 17, 2017
“The play is like the cherry on top … The prisoners have already gained, but the play is therapy for the whole society, because you’re making people aware of what it means to commit a crime, and why we become criminals, and that these people deserve a second chance.”
Play tells inmates' stories
March 31, 2016
"The place where the women keep coming to is a place of discovery, of self-illumination."
Ohio inmates find inner artist in hope for redemption
Nov. 2, 2015
"By us doing this, I feel like we're expressing (to the community) just because we came to prison and are criminals, that's not the label that should stick with us forever."
Windows on Death Row: Art from inside and outside the Prison Walls
Oct. 22, 2015
Using art as a tool for social awareness, it opens a window into an often hidden part of the ongoing conversation about capital punishment - exploring the system through the eyes of the incarcerated.
Prisoners perform Shawshank Redemption
Oct. 21, 2015
"It was exciting to see something come from almost nothing,"
Students and prisoners grow from joint education
Sept. 30, 2015
“These numbers show how badly we need to change."
The exchange program that puts college kids in classrooms with prisons
Jan. 29, 2015
"They dealt with some of things personally that the students had only read about in books, so it made them feel like they had just as much to offer, if not more, than some of the [university] students taking the class."