Program: Access to Arts
Area of Work: Arts
Grant Purpose: Assembly
Recess partners with artists to build a more just and equitable creative community. Their programs and space reimagine traditional studio, exhibition, and classroom platforms, offering artists, audiences, and program participants flexible frameworks in which to generate new works and ideas.
Purpose: To support Assembly, an artist-led “alternatives to incarceration” diversion program for court-involved youth that offers long-term pathways to employment in the cultural sphere.
Early involvement with the justice system begins a vicious and unjust cycle: those who already have limited access to employment are increasingly disenfranchised due to their court involvement. Assembly provides court-involved youth with long-term, paid arts training, employment, internship and job placement to address this gap. They also provide the creative space to dismantle the dominant narratives of the “criminal” through a series of artist-led visual storytelling workshops designed to lend agency and empower participants to tell their personal stories on their own terms.
Since the inception of the Assembly program in 2017, Recess has served nearly 250 individuals with 92% completing Assembly workshops, allowing prosecutors the opportunity to close and seal over 197 cases and enabled over 197 young people to avoid an adult record. Roughly a quarter of all participants have continued their involvement with the program in a paid capacity. 31 Assembly participants have completed their Fieldwork internships. Collectively, our participants put in 11,600 hours each year in arts training, internships and professional and personal development.