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The Prison Songwriting Project

This May we are facilitating a songwriting workshop for incarcerated women in our community who currently reside at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women. We believe that meaningful arts experiences should be available to everyone, especially people who have experienced very challenging events in their lives.

Since 1980 the number of women in prisons in the United States has increased by more than 700%. (The Sentencing Project, 2015) With your support, we can extend the reach of music based programs in the Asheville Area to the growing number of incarcerated women in our community.

At SCCW, as many as 85% of the women serving time there have been physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused. (Ministries Of Hope, 2018) Artistic self-expression can provide a safe and healthy way to release and cope with potentially destructive feelings. (Blacker, Watson and Beech 2008) Engaging with the arts in prison environments has been described as a “humanising" experience” (Allen, Shaw, and Hall 2004). Olivia Gude, in her 2009 Lowenfeld Lecture, affirmed the importance of art training and engagement in empowering incarcerated people with a sense of purpose and a belief that they are capable of realizing positive change in their lives. (Gude, 2009)

This program will ignite the resilience of our participants by providing an avenue for their creative engagement in the world beyond the prison walls. An added benefit of prison arts programs is the opportunity for artists within the
prison to reconnect with society. This program will culminate in the opportunity for willing participants to have their songs and stories shared with the public in a community education event outside of the prison. We know that all people, their culture, and their art contribute to the meaning and understanding of our humanity and should be honored and celebrated. This opportunity will help to bridge the gap in understanding between the women at SCCW and other people in and around Asheville.

Funded by Asheville, NC (April 2019)