Empowering Individuals, Transforming Systems
The DU Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI) generates creative and collaborative learning experiences that enrich the lives of people who are incarcerated and shift the conversation about prison. As part of DU’s commitment to the public good, our programming opens dialogue between incarcerated people and their communities. We empower individuals to see themselves as leaders capable of creating meaningful change, both inside prison systems and well beyond.
"Arts involvement lets incarcerated students be part of something larger than themselves again. From that space comes the opportunity to create healing for self and community, which opens up possibility for transformation in people, spaces and systems."Dr. Ashley Hamilton Director of DU PAI
"This (DU PAI) workshop opened me up to realize how much I have changed through my incarceration. I’ve realized that I locked up the best parts of me years ago. I’ve been in a prison, while in prison. This class has helped release the best part of me and I hope to share that with the world."DU PAI Incarcerated Student
Theatre performances, podcast episodes, art workshops, leadership programs, newspaper issues — these are just some of the ongoing initiatives we offer across Colorado. Our programs deliver arts-based experiences that are educational, therapeutic and reflective. By facilitating dialogue and empowering individuals to tell their stories, we build communities that are changing the conversation about prison.
We provide therapeutic arts programming that builds collaborative communities and empowers individuals’ creative voices. Our workshops include playwriting, ensemble theatre, dance and movement, improvisation and creative writing among others.
At every facility, individuals who are incarcerated serve as group leaders who help guide programming and facilitate group dynamics. Cultivating leadership skills fosters community responsibility while ensuring our programs remain co-creative.
Families reunite through arts-based workshops, using creativity as a vehicle for joy and growth. Most events center around an illustrated book that captures a family-friendly theme we are excited to explore together.
Inside Out College Course
DU graduate students and incarcerated students come together in for-credit courses launching in Spring 2020. Our first course, Restorative Justice and Performance, will be co-taught by the School of Social Work and the Theatre Department.
The Inside Report Newspaper
Created in the Fremont Correctional Facility, this print and online newspaper has a statewide reach, giving voice to incarcerated people. The Inside Report serves as an intellectually challenging forum for information, entertainment and inspiration.
Performances and Events
Performances and events are collaborative efforts between DU PAI and the Colorado Department of Corrections. Performance cast and crew consist of incarcerated people—this means all design and technical elements are imagined and created inside.
Each episode of With(in) shifts the conversation about prison through meaningful dialogues with incarcerated people across Colorado. Reverberations from With(in) is a digital newsletter of critical and creative writing on the themes covered in the podcast.