The Actors' Gang and Avenal State Prison: A Collaborative Approach to Arts in Corrections (SiPC4)

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The acclaimed Actors’ Gang Prison Project has been successfully working at the forefront of arts in corrections in California for the past fourteen years. The development of their Alumni Network in recent years has marked a new approach to programming that has centered their work around the voices of returning citizens. The Actors’ Gang Alumni Network is a community established to support, train, and employ men and women who participated in programming while in prison with the aim to continue their involvement upon release. Jeremie Loncka, architect of the Actors’ Gang Alumni Network, has curated this panel to bring together the voices that were instrumental in the program’s development and who are currently at the forefront of TAG programming.

Three leaders and pioneers of the Alumni Network - Richard Loya, John Dich, and Major Bunton will be sharing a conversation with the visionary warden of Avenal State Prison, Rosemary Ndoh, and her nontraditional team. Richard, John, and Major will discuss their first-hand experience of establishing a class at Avenal State Prison and what it has meant to return as teaching artists. 

Rosemary and her staff will be outlining how they successfully implemented a supportive culture at Avenal State Prison and how that enabled custody staff to work seamlessly with The Actors’ Gang participants. Their combined efforts have led to ongoing Actors’ Gang programming at Avenal for over four years, the release of over 25 participants, and a 0 % recidivism rate for men who have been through the program.   

The Actors’ Gang invites you to join them as they continue to explore what makes arts programming effective inside prison and how programs can best support returning citizens as they re-enter society and return to their communities.