Arts in Practice
Project Reset is an early diversion program for people arrested on low-level misdemeanor charges. Police and prosecutors offer them the opportunity to attend a three-hour workshop at an arts institution in lieu of attending court and being formally charged. Arts-based Project Reset programming is offered at the New Museum in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Museum. At both sites, a teaching artist uses art in the museum to encourage participants to reflect upon their arrest and their responsibility. This creates the possibility for them to reflect on their choices, relationships, self-perception, and past experiences that may adversely affect them. Upon completion of the workshop, the prosecutor’s office declines to prosecute.
The Brownsville Community Justice Center provides instruction in deejaying, graphic design, lighting design, and photography as part of its youth programming and provides participants with opportunities to build their own businesses. Many of these artistic endeavors provide positive outcomes for the individual while strengthening the community. In Ville Illuminate, young people learned about the role of public lighting and safety, then worked with New York City officials to design, build, and implement responsive lighting that now brightens a shopping corridor. The Marcus Garvey Clubhouse, which converted a vacant lot into a community space, not only provided a new location for young people to gather, it also taught participants how to work as a team, how to engage with city officials, and demonstrated that by working together they could affect positive change.
Neighbors in Action operates Arts to End Violence, which uses community-generated artwork to engage in conversations about the roots of gun violence and encourages participants to make their own artwork. Completed projects are displayed in a local gallery and in laundromats, barber shops, and the lobbies of buildings to continue the conversation and encourage community members to join a larger anti-violence campaign. The project gives people of all skill levels a chance to share their voice and increase civic engagement.