Safe Streets Arts Foundation, incorporating the Prisons Foundation and Victims Foundation

We Help Create, Show and Sell Prison Art

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Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and by citizens like you (please use donate button above), we are a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit organization. The Safe Streets Arts Foundation uses the arts to allow all segments of the criminal justice community to communicate with each other and with the public. We are especially committed to helping the 2 ½ million men and women in prison, 95% of whom will someday return to society as our neighbors. They receive our support in prison to use the arts to develop their self esteem and a positive attitude vital for successful reentry. (We also publish their books at www.PrisonsFoundation.org). The following 3 1/2 minute video about our work was produced by the Voice of America (Federal TV network) for translation into 44 languages and broadcast around the world.


The Safe Streets Arts Foundation, incorporating the Prisons Foundation and the Victims Foundation, is proud to sponsor the Prison Art Gallery with numerous satellite gallery locations, produce the annual Justice Arts Show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and operate the coming National Jail Mueseum and Art Gallery. We also exhibit our art at major art fairs and festivals. To learn about the background of our organization and the hundreds of artists we represent, please read the book Art on the Inside (click here for your free PDF copy of the book). For information about the personal journey of our founding director Dennis Sobin, please read the book From Prison to Kennedy Center Stage (click here for your free PDF copy of the book). Sobin, having spent years in prison, was exonerated after award-winning journalist Paul Krassner wrote a national magazine article exposing his false convictions, triggering an investigation by a Federal agency which affirmed Sobin's innocence. Here's the way the U.S. State Department introduced him when he spoke to foreign dignitaries at the Department's invitation: "After decades of political activism, Dennis Sobin spent years in prison when he was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit. While in prison, he developed his art and formed the Safe Streets Arts Foundation."

Safe Streets Arts Foundation does not overlook victims of crime. We help victims by giving support to groups such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance. We also produce a TV show, Safe Streets IQ, in which we interview victims of crime, allowing them to tell their story and to advise others how to stay safe. For more information about Safe Streets IQ, please visit www.SafeStreetsIQ.us

In addition to selling prison art in our retail outlets, we provide the names and addresses of our imprisoned artists to anyone who wishes to use their artistic services. This is ideal for individuals, nonprofits and entrepreneurs who have a need for art or graphics of any type, including logos, wall decorations, brochure and website illustrations, or custom-made portraits from photos. Whatever your want in the way of art, our talented imprisoned artists can provide it. Whether you use their artistic talents for your own or for your organization’s needs, you won’t be disappointed. Some artists will even work free for recognition and a thank you letter, which they can use for clemency applications (especially important to our lifer and death row artists). For more information, please write staff@SafeStreetsArts.org

At our galleries, we exhibit and sell the art of imprisoned artists. The proceeds of art sales go for inmate art supplies and restitution requirements, if any. At the Kennedy Center shows, we present the dramatic and musical work of prisoners and others in the criminal justice community. At our recent Kennedy Center show we featured several plays by prisoners, a dramatic piece by a probation officer, and music by a police band. (Click here to see a short video of scenes from this Kennedy Center presentation.)

 

Our organization has been very successful to the point where we are attracting more art than our galleries can accommodate. For that reason we have been establishing new satellite locations. Any business or organization can qualify to become a satellite location as long as it welcomes the public and has some available wall space to show prisoner-made art. Businesses and organizations exhibiting the art get to keep a large portion of sales revenue. This is a way for prison artists to give something back to their communities.

T
he support we give to imprisoned artists, writers and musicians include providing them with critiques of their work, sending supplies to their prisons (including musical instruments), connecting the inmates to mentors who will help them in prison and upon their release, and showcasing prisoner visual, dramatic and musical creations in our galleries and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. There is never a charge for our services. We are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, foundations, individual donors, and fees we receive from colleges, universities and other groups seek our programs or wish to arrange appearances by the ex-prisoner artists, writers, actors and musicians we represent. For more information, please contact Staff@SafeStreetsArts.info.

We have received substantial publicity in national media over the decade of our existence, including coverage in the Washington Post Magazine which you can read by clicking here, and an interview in The Washington Examiner which you can read by
clicking here. We have also received many awards, including the BleakHouse Publishing award given to our director at American University (click here for a short video of his musical acceptance speech).

                 Some Questions and Answers

What are the goals of Safe Streets Arts Foundation?

We seek to use the arts as a rehabilitative and therapeutic tool for men and women in prison, and more broadly as a means for others in the justice community to convey their ideas and feelings. We feature the work of prisoners in our Prison Art Galleries while our annual Justice Arts Program at the Kennedy Center which is presented as part of the Kennedy Center’s Page–to-Stage Festival embracers victims of crime, law enforcement officers, and corrections professionals in addition to the work of prisoners.

How does engaging in the arts help inmates?

Participating in the arts while in prison helps inmates develop a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, which are vital for a successful reintegration back into society. It also helps them convey their message through the art they create--an apology, a call for reconciliation, or a cry of innocence.

What upcoming initiatives does Safe Streets Arts have planned?

In the performing arts, we’ve had several Justice Arts Programs at the Kennedy Center and we are planning future ones we intend to make better than ever. Free and open to all, we will be presenting drama, comedy and music reflecting various justice and rehabilitation themes from all segments of the justice community. Concerning the visual arts, we are expanding our Prison Art Galleries while also bringing our art collection into various communities with the help of restaurants, retail establishments and other businesses and organizations that wish to display socially-meaningful and beautiful art.

What challenges does the foundation face?

The primary challenge we face is that, as result of our becoming well known to correctional staff and prisoners across America, we are getting more art than we can display and sell at our Prison Art Galleris. So we are expanding, seeking additional satellite locations. The public needs to understand that many inmates do not belong in prison in the first place, and that all returning prisoners need to be given a second chance.

How did the foundation get started?

The Safe Streets Arts Foundation is an outgrowth of the Prisons Foundation, which has long sought to improve training and educational opportunities for men and women in prison. The discovery was made that no matter how much training and education are available to prisoners, they will not succeed without self esteem. So the Safe Streets Arts Foundation came about to give them that esteem through the arts, realizing that everyone has talent waiting to be unleashed. We soon expanded to encompass all segments of the justice community, including law enforcement officers and correctional staff.

For further information, contact:
Staff@SafeStreetsArts.org
202-393-1511
For Addresses of Our Galleries
please click here.
Mailing address to send art and correspondence:
Safe Streets Arts Foundation
 
 2512 Virginia Ave. NW, #58043
  
Washington, DC 20037

 

 

 

 

 

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