Right of Return Fellowship for Formerly Incarcerated Artists
The Soze Agency is proud to announce the first year of the Right of Return USA Fellowship, funded by Open Philanthropy. This fellowship program will invest in formerly incarcerated artists to create original works that can further criminal justice reform in partnership with advocates and organizers. The first cohort will include five artists with diverse backgrounds, who will each receive a $10,000 prize, plus $10,000 for materials and production.
Artists as culture makers have a critical role to play in transforming society into one that is more just, and the push to end mass incarceration is no exception. Artists distill complex issues and emotions, helping us make sense of the world around us. By connecting their audiences to vivid expressions of truth, such as the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement, they inspire us to urgent action. Artists are organizers, connecting people together and building power to reimagine the world.
While many artists have explored the issue of mass incarceration, formerly incarcerated artists have an especially important role in exploring this issue. Speaking from their own life stories, these artists powerfully ground their audiences in the experience of incarceration, helping us to break through the wall of ignorance and shame that often disconnects the public from action. As such, they are critical strategic partners in efforts to challenge mass incarceration at all levels. The Right to Return project hopes that this fellowship will not only amplify the work of five formerly incarcerated artists, but will also help to build a wave of interest in the vision of formerly incarcerated artists for America after mass incarceration.
The Right of Return project encourages formerly incarcerated artists of all disciplines who seek to challenge mass incarceration through their creative practice -- including visual, performing, media, design, and other creative professions – to apply for the fellowship. The deadline to apply is April 21, 2017.