ArtSpring, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Florida, believes in the power of art to transform individuals and strengthen communities. Our mission is to use arts-based educational programming to develop self-growth and effective life skills for incarcerated women, men and youth as well as other at-risk populations in underserved communities. Our faculty empowers participants to redirect their lives, resulting in a healthier and safer society.
ArtSpring, Inc. was founded as Leslie Neal Dance, Inc. (LND) in 1992. Initially, this company of female artists created dance theatre works that were performed throughout the Southeast. From 1986 to 2007, Leslie Neal was a choreographer and associate professor of dance at Florida International University (FIU). Her research became focused on the value of art in community settings. In 1994, LND’s activities began to increasingly shift to serving the community by teaching arts to incarcerated women. As a result, LND changed its corporate name to ArtSpring, Inc. in the summer of 2000 to more accurately reflect its community-based efforts.
ArtSpring has achieved national recognition for the longest ongoing arts-in-corrections programming in Florida, providing quality arts-based, educational workshops to over 600 inmates and juveniles per year. ArtSpring maintains a faculty of artists, teaching a variety of disciplines including dance, theatre, music, visual arts and creative writing, utilizing a unique collaborative process based in community arts education. Over the years, ArtSpring has proven that the arts increase self-esteem, reduce negative behavior and create a positive environment within facilities where our programs are offered. ArtSpring aids participants in their reintegration back to society. Of the women who enrolled in ArtSpring’s programs for at least one year and are now released, not one has been convicted of a crime and returned to prison. This represents a 0% recidivism rate for those who involved in our programs.
Arts in Community
Based upon the belief that art has the power to heal and transform lives, ArtSpring has offered high-value programs at no cost to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), delivering ongoing interdisciplinary arts programs that promote personal growth, self-esteem, and effective life skill development to women in correctional settings since 1994. In addition ArtSpring has an ongoing partnership with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice serving girls and boys at the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center, as well as an emerging collaboration with The Service Network for Children of Inmates. Throughout the years, ArtSpring has delivered programming in residential facilities for girls in foster care, adult residential substance abuse treatment facilities, homeless shelters, public school programs and local community centers. Our programs for incarcerated women remain our core vision, focusing on building community by assisting them to overcome obstacles that led to their incarceration in order to become productive citizens upon release.
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Pinellas County Jail,
Inside Out Participant 2001
walked into a group of people, of all races from many
different backgrounds, who together had formed a family.
I learned how to address my anger in positive ways.
I learned how to lift my spirits by just changing the
way I walked. Each exercise was a lesson on inner self
and I was taught so may things without even realizing
the lesson until it was pointed out to me…. I
found a place where I could be human again. Where I
could be myself and it was okay. I found a place where
I could work on putting myself together and forget
that I’m just a number. I’ve learned to
cry again. I now have hope and faith in society where
once I had none. If someone can volunteer to teach
me and others the things I’ve learned and continue
to learn, then I can truly believe that there is hope
for me, as well as society, because one day I will
be free again. I’ll become a part of society
once more. And thanks to Inside Out I will be a better,
Homestead Correctional Institution,
Inside Out participant 2001