Monday, August 6, 2018
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) hosted their annual meeting in Los Angeles with around 3,000 attendees. Each year, Americans for the Arts is one of a small number of organizations that are invited to sponsor a lunch for a subset of legislators. This year, the session was on The Arts for Incarcerated Youth. The session was a joint meeting/lunch of the NCSL Labor and Economic Development Committee (where the arts are housed at NCSL) and the Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. This is the first time Americans for the Arts has been in front of this committee. Speakers included Jay Dick, Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs, who gave a 5-minute talk about Americans for the Arts, our Social Impact pinwheel, and a few statistics from our Ipsos Poll. He then turned it over to Jeff Poulin, Americans for the Arts’ Manager of Arts Education who moderated the panel whose members included: Ayanna Cole from Carnegie Hall, Kalie Shilling from the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network and Amir Whitaker with Project Knucklehead. They were joined by a special guest, Jonathan, who was the subject of a 3-minute video that we played on how the arts had a profound impact upon his young life. When Jonathan was last arrested, at age 12, (he is now 19) he was given access to the arts while in secure detention. As he stated to the group, the arts provided him the ability to focus and find a release for his anger and allowed him to regain control of his life.
Approximately 200 state legislators self-selected to join the session most of whom have legislative oversight of their state’s criminal justice programs.
Because of this session, NCSL made Juvenile Justice a main topic for the committee during the entire conference. Finally, we were invited to participate in future Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety programming.
Photo: (Session Participants, Left to Right) Jeff Poulin, Americans for the Arts; Amir Whitaker, Project Knucklehead; Special Guest Jonathan; Ayanna Cole, Carnegie Hall; South Carolina State Senator Gerald Malloy; Jay Dick, Americans for the Arts and; Kalie Shilling, Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network.