The Actors' Gang
Creating opportunities and community for recently incarcerated people.
The Actors’ Gang Prison Project recognized the rehabilitation process must continue beyond one’s release date and launched the Reentry Program in 2015 and provides participants with tools for emotional management, verbal communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and leadership. The Alumni Advocacy Project launched in 2017 to create community for returning citizens. The alumni help each other succeed in attaining parole, work in the community and build healthy relationships with others. Alumni grow as individuals and artists.
Describe the mission of your organization.
To present new, unconventional and uncompromising plays and dynamic reinterpretations of the classics. To restore the ancient sense of the stage as a shared sacred space. To introduce theater to children and help them find their own creative voices. To bring the freedom of self-expression to the incarcerated.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- South LA
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Justice involved people need support as they return to our communities throughout Los Angeles County. The Actors’ Gang Prison Project (TAGPP) recognized the need to continue rehabilitation and support beyond a sentence end date. As people return home, many face challenges during their transitions, including navigating modern systems (e.g., bank accounts, technology, DMV and other government agencies), managing relationships, securing employment and housing and dealing with emotional issues resulting from, and the stigma associated with, incarceration. Those who receive support are less likely to fall into destructive old habits and behaviors like substance abuse, gang affiliation and criminal activities. The recidivism rate in California is approximately 62%; it is 10% among TAGPP alumni. The employment rate for those who complete the reentry program is 77% - the recidivism rates for formerly incarcerated people who found employment shortly after their release are less than 9%.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
TAGPP provides support for returning citizens through its Reentry Program and Alumni Advocacy Project with training in emotional expression and control, verbal communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, leadership skills and other essential “soft/core” skills that significantly improve opportunities to obtain employment. The goal of these programs is to provide formerly justice-involved participants an opportunity to change the way they see themselves and others so that they can become actively engaged community members. Several studies have found that employment is associated with reduced recidivism. Becoming employable after incarceration requires many layers of support which TAGPP programs provide. TAG’s Alumni Advocacy Project helps alumni succeed in finding work in the community and achieve early release from Parole. The alumni provide each other with emotional support as they acclimate to the overwhelming pace of modern society. They help each other manage relationships with significant others, family members, and in public. TAGPP has hired two of its alumni in full time positions and another 15 as part time Teaching Artists (TAs). This employment history will help lay the foundation for them in pursuing other career opportunities in the future.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
TAGPP programs have already demonstrated success in prisons for 15 years and reentry programs for four years. The challenge now is securing resources to expand the programs to serve more returning citizens. Ideally, every returning citizen in the Greater Los Angeles Area will have an opportunity to participate in TAGPP programs. This will increase opportunities for employment, reduce recidivism, support successful reentry of formerly incarcerated people, and add to the economy and communities of Los Angeles.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
TAGPP has been working with Leap and Associates at UCLA for three years developing a longitudinal study. The third-year evaluation sought to understand long‐term outcomes of participation in TAGPP and examine the newly developed The Actors’ Gang Alumni Advocacy Project (TAGAAP). The results have been informative. The study ties the success of TAGAAP to continued success in the community. The study advises what we are doing well and what we can do better and helps shape the program creating a successful path for the Alumni. We have also seen incredibly positive numbers regarding recidivism rates among TAGPP participants and alumni. TAGPP is in development of a quantitative survey to understand the impact of the program on alumni and active members of TAGAAP and their families and ultimately communities in Los Angeles County.
Which of the create metrics will you impact?
- Employment in the creative industries
- Global cultural and economic influence (“soft power”)
- Economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
The Salt Eaters Bookshop
The Salt Eaters Bookshop brings the stories of Black women, femmes, and nonbinary people to the front.
The Salt Eaters Bookshop is creating a co-working component to the shop with four desks each equipped with a desktop computer, writing materials, and printer access for local Black women, femme, or nonbinary writers, students, entrepreneurs, creatives, or organizers in need of an affirming co-working space. The funding from this grant will help support the technology and materials required for the desks as well as assist with payroll for our first part-time employee to assist in bookkeeping and managing the co-working space.
Textile Arts Los Angeles
Los Angeles Textile Month
Textile Arts Los Angeles is developing our third annual Textile Month Los Angeles, a month-long, regional festival designed to celebrate textile creativity and promote textile awareness. This virtual (or multi-location, tbd), multi-disciplinary event will showcase a breadth of textile-related voices and expressions, bringing together museums, galleries, fashion and costume designers, curators, architects and interior designers, academia, students, and the general public. Find us in September 2021!