The California Arts Council received quite the Valentine's Day surprise from one of its fellow state agencies last February. The head of rehabilitation programs for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) called with a proposal: help coordinate an 18-month, $2.5 million Arts-in-Corrections pilot program in California state prisons. CDCR would provide the funding, and the Arts Council would provide the know-how and coordination. Like most Valentine’s Day proposals, CDCR’s was happily accepted.
By June the first phase of the program was launched. The Arts Council contracted seven arts organizations with dozens of artists scheduled to provide more than 10,000 hours of arts programming in 14 state prisons in the first year, and even more planned for the following year.