Our final video addresses the way that art can be used to impact Policy. Jennifer Pelton from the Public Justice Center describes some of the ways that the PJC has incorporated art into advocating policy changes. Through the use of photography, music, youth created art, and other mediums, the PJC knows that art is an effective tool for providing a face to an issue and making the policy changes personal.
To view the complete interview with Jennifer Pelton of the Public Justice Center: Click Here
To view the rest of the Continuum of Impact videos please visit the Baltimore Art + Justice Project YouTube channel
The Continuum of Impact Video Series is based on the Continuum of Impact created by Animating Democracy, the videos each highlight specific ways that social justice and art collaboration create an impact.
October 23, the Just Kids Partnership will be hosting its second annual “Art with a Story” at the Creative Alliance, from 6-8 pm. This event features visual and performance art as part of Youth Justice Awareness month in an effort to raise awareness about the practice of automatically charging youth as adults. Art with a Story includes a gallery showcasing artwork by youth who have been in the adult system, an installation simulating a solitary confinement cell, and live performances by poets and musicians, including the nationally traveled spoken-word poetry meets hip-hop soul group, the 5th L.
But what is the Just Kids Partnership? Consisting of organizers and youth leaders at Community Law in Action and lawyers from the Public Justice Center, we are a collaboration seeking to end the practice of automatically prosecuting youth as adults. We use public education, community organizing, and legislative advocacy as we work towards this goal. Art is integral to our advocacy.
Youth 14 and up, charged with any of 33 enumerated offenses will be automatically sent to the adult criminal justice system, based solely on age and charge. Once there, youth are subject to adult jail, adult process, and adult sentences.
This policy is fundamentally flawed. The practice casts far too wide a net; almost 70% of the youth direct- filed to the adult system are eventually sent back to the juvenile system upon judicial review or are released outright, but this often occurs months after the initial charge. Youth charged as adults are usually held in adult jails where they are at serious risk of abuse, harassment and suicide. A youth prosecuted in the adult system is more likely to re-offend upon release, and offend more violently, than comparable youth processed in the juvenile system. In addition, this practice has a severely disproportionate impact on minority youth. Finally, youth charged as adults face all the collateral consequences associated with an adult criminal record upon release, including problems getting a job, housing, financial supports, and higher education. The practice doesn’t work to keep our youth safe or to make our communities safer. We can do better.
These statistics come to life with the stories and art that illustrate how truly harmful this practice is for our youth and our communities. Thus, Just Kids integrates art throughout our campaign in order to bring these stories to the public and the legislature. The artwork – from poems, to stories, to photographs and multimedia visual art – is how we reach the hearts and minds of the only ones who can push our representatives to change the laws that mandate automatic prosecution. One can see or hear the individual stories of youth caught in the adult system, who lose months if not years of their life to adult jail, before trial or transfer, and then must spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome the trauma of the experience and the barriers created by the charge alone.
This art, created by youth organizers and leaders, will be showcased at our October 23 Art with a Story event. So check us out – at the end you will have seen experiences great art, will understand why we are fighting so hard to end this practice, and learn how to take action! For tickets go to http://justkidsmaryland.org/ or http://artwithastory.brownpapertickets.com/
The Baltimore Art + Justice Project’s latest community dialogue brought together local artists, activists, practitioners, community members, and organizers to discuss building (and maintaining) collaborative, working relationships between artists and non-profits. The dialogue was held in partnership with the Public Justice Center who were not only wonderful hosts but provided insight into their own experiences of bringing together the non-profit sector and artists in multiple successful ways.
Jennifer Pelton, Director of Development at PJC, described the work they do as focused on targeting the roots of poverty. Pelton described how the advocacy driven organization had used powerful images and photographs of real life situations in Baltimore, such as tenant evictions, to convey the importance of taking action on specific issues. In addition to photography, the organization has collaborated with the Megaphone Project multiple times on films and brought in performers for their anniversary benefit. Pelton described that art makes individuals feel compelled do get involved in political advocacy, bridging the gap between the two communities: “Art makes us talk about difficult topics and justice gives us a course of action for those topics.”
Elliot Rauh and Jessica Garrett from Single Carrot Theatre also described in detail their experiences bridging artistic and non-profit communities. The members from the socially engaged theatre company described working to grow outreach and education programs through the theatre. One program in particular they discussed was their annual reading of the “Murder Ink” column from Baltimore’s City Paper. Without any fanfare the SC Theatre company has read aloud the names from the previous years’ column with the intent to not only bring up those individuals’ names again and have them remembered as Garrett stated that “every human being deserves to be acknowledged when they die.” Single Carrot also hopes to create a conversation through the readings explained by Rauh, “theatre sparks dialogue.”
The challenges of bringing together artists and non-profits were addressed during the dialogue and many thought the difficulties often rest in understanding the different communities, cultures, and priorities. Some artists might feel that non-profits have not provided the room for creative possibility while non-profits feel that artists might not respect their responsibilities or priorities. It was clear, however that the desire for collaboration was high and the need for a coalition was strong. Continually individuals discussed how necessary it was to build off of the assets that each community can bring, and make sure that we continue to maintain open communication. It’s clear that there are artists and non-profits working on the same issues in Baltimore City that can make incredible work when they collaborate.
Keeping the dialogue going:
What makes for a successful non-profit/artist partnership?
What are your experiences?
What do you think?
Baltimore Art + Justice Project has two exciting events coming up in the next couple months that you will want to look out for.
First, to say thank you to everyone who has participated in the project and supported us over the past year, BA+JP will be having a Happy Hour next Tuesday, April 23rd from 5-7:30pm at Millers Court. The Happy Hour is co-hosted by Wide Angle Youth Media and in addition to lite fair and cocktails, we will have a sneak peak of the Wide Angle Youth Media Festival. We ask that if you are interested in attending the event that you please RSVP by Friday, April 19th to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up in May we are having our next Community Dialogue! Connecting Art and Advocacy: Building Relationships that Work, will be co-hosted with the Public Justice Center. Our third dialogue in our series will continue to use a lively, interactive discussion to address the role of advocacy organizations in socially engaged art and design and how to find ways to make these relationships work.
Space for the event is limited so please make sure to RSVP to email@example.com.
Public Justice Center (1 N. Charles St. Suite 200, 21201)
The Baltimore Art + Justice Project
What’s the Word? Click to read!
- Artists Within Spotlight: Y-LLEAD – Healing the Self to Heal the Community
- Artists Within Spotlight: Single Carrot Theatre Arts Integration in an Uprising
- Baltimore Uprising Art Archive Series 4: North and Penn Visual Artists and More
- Baltimore Uprising Art Archive: Series 3 – Youth Voices
- Baltimore Uprising Art Archive: Series 2
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