Dunphy, K. (1999). A creative arts performance program for incarcerated women: The arts of transforming shame. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 26(1), 35-43.
Author Affiliations: Community arts dance specialist, Melbourne, Australia
Artforms: Movement, visual arts, and writing
Program: Keeping the Faith – The Prison Project
Program Description: Keeping the Faith, a program of the Pat Graney Company, is a multi-arts performance program consisting of sessions in dance, creative writing, singing and visual arts: “The Prison Project is an arts-based educational residency program designed to enable incarcerated women and girls to discover a sense of identity and to develop that identity within the context of community—through the vehicles of performance, video documentation and a published anthology of their writings. The Pat Graney Company has conducted this three-month program of movement, writing, and visual art in Washington State Corrections Centers for the past 15 years” (http://www.patgraney.org/education.html ). Each workshop lasts three months (meeting twice a week) and culminates in a series of performances open to prison inmates, staff, families and selected visitors.
Program (Study) Location: Washington Corrections Center for Women, Gig Harbor, Washington
Participant Type: Adult female inmates aged 15 to 40.
Sample Size: NA
Study Published: 1999
Data Type: Qualitative/interpretive inquiry: Interviews conducted with program director, staff and participants; questionnaires administered to inmates and staff; participant observation; analysis of inmates’ creative writing
Evaluation Focus: The study focused on examining the benefits of participation in the program for inmates, artist facilitators, and staff, particularly in self-esteem, positive and creative life skills, and in the meaning of dance involvement.
Summary of Impact: Inmate participants self-reported increased self-esteem as a result of mastery of new skills. Other benefits reported were bonding with others, shared meaningful experiences, and deepened friendships. Improved skills in conflict resolution, bonding, trust, and intimacy were reported by inmates and corroborated by staff. Staff also reported an increase in group collaboration. The program provided positive links with the outside world, including, family and friends. Improvements benefited individuals, general prison population as well as the wider community.
KEYWORDS: adult, creative writing, dance, Keeping the Faith , music, self esteem, singing, visual arts