William James Association - Prison Arts Project
The major program of the William James Association is the Prison Arts Project (PAP), created through the vision and efforts of Eloise Smith. A pilot project was set up in 1977 at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, with funding provided by the San Francisco Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. Eloise Smith’s vision was based simply on the value of providing all individuals with the most meaningful art experience possible; in her words, “that mysterious life-enhancing process we call the arts, a realm in which patient application and vivid imagination so often produce magic.” The success of this initial program led to the formation of Arts-in-Corrections, an administrative office within the California Department of Corrections, which oversees the staffing of artist-facilitators at all prisons in California. Unfortunately, in January 2003, all Arts-in-Corrections artists’ contracts were terminated as the result of a budget crisis in California state government. Through some limited funding from private sources, the William James Association has been able to hire a few professional artists to teach at San Quentin State Prison and the women’s unit of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco.
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