Community Chest Spotlight: Arts Inside
The 2022-23 Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) Fund Drive is underway. Sponsored by the Sewanee Civic Association, the SCC raises money yearly for local charitable organizations serving the area. This year’s goal of $106,425 will help 17 organizations that have requested basic needs funding for quality of life, community aid, children’s programs, and those who are beyond Sewanee but still serve our entire community.
This week we shine the spotlight on Arts Inside.
Arts Inside uses art as a tool for expression, healing, and connection for incarcerated individuals and their families in rural Middle Tennessee. While being mindful of systemic injustices, Arts Inside aims to create spaces outside of and within correctional facilities for personal and communal healing through multidisciplinary creative programming.
Arts Inside currently administers regular arts programming in Grundy, Franklin and Maury County jails. In the past year, painting, yoga, photography, drawing, and creative writing classes were offered on a weekly basis at multiple facilities.
Striped Creations is a multidisciplinary narrative project part of Arts Inside creative programming. Over several sessions, participants complete journaling prompts about components of identity and create corresponding imagery. After several sessions, participants will have created images of themselves reflective of their whole selves. The final product is meant to be displayed publicly, celebrating the work of the artists and showing a more vibrant and whole image of incarcerated individuals to the outside community.
In partnership with Grundy Safe Communities Coalition and Grundy County Schools, Arts Inside is providing an arts-based after-school pilot program for children with incarcerated parents and justice-involved family members at Tracy City Elementary.
For the Storybook Project, Arts Inside volunteers assist parents who are incarcerated in recording a reading of a book to their child or children. The book is then mailed to the child so that they may hear their parent’s voice whenever they wish, connecting families despite the physical barrier of incarceration.
Arts Inside class participants are able to showcase their artwork in various community spaces through art shows. Arts Inside has held art shows in the Grundy County Courthouse, downtown Tracy City, and Stirling’s Coffee House and is currently planning shows in the Artisan Depot in Cowan as well as the Hart Gallery in Chattanooga.
Since the organization’s founding in 2017, they have continuously offered regular creative programming in the Grundy County Jail, which is a distressed county according to the Appalachian Regional Commission. Additionally, by request of each facility, Arts Inside has worked steadily to administer regular creative programming to Franklin, Maury, Giles, Wayne, Lawrence, and Perry counties.
Arts Inside uses large quantities of arts supplies in their classes. Arts Inside is requesting $500 from the Sewanee Community Chest to replenish the supplies and support their efforts and projects.
Since 1908, the goal of the Sewanee Community Chest has been to help citizens by funding the community. With Community Chest donations, local organizations provide for basic needs such as books, food, animal care, housing, scholarships, recreational spaces, elder care, children’s educational needs and more. The Sewanee Community Chest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and donations are tax-deductible. Send your donation to Sewanee Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375.