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Madison non-profit connecting kids affected by incarceration to art grows

Updated: May. 30, 2021 at 11:36 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison non-profit connecting kids with a family member in prison to the arts is growing, with the students part of it inspiring a new mural.

Now in its third year, Cultural Connections Founder Pat Dillon says they serve roughly two dozen children impacted by incarceration.

“We not only support children affected by incarceration but we also talk about allyship for the kids who have not been affected by incarceration,” Dillon said.

The art club is also partnering with Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA), which is designing a mural that will be erected on the side of Madison’s Youth Arts Center. The new facility has not yet opened to the public.

Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA) works on mural for Madison's Youth Arts Center
Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA) works on mural for Madison's Youth Arts Center(nbc15)

While the pandemic hindered seeing one another in person, Cultural Connections Lead Artist Anwar Floyd-Pruitt lead workshops through zoom. The various projects done in those classes is being incorporated into DAMA’s mural.

“This world belongs to young people as well, so part of what we are interested is not just the physical art production, but then the conversations, listening to them and hearing what they have to say and how they view this world,” Floyd-Pruitt said.

Dillon, who started the organization in 2018, said the goal of the art club is to provide students the opportunity to learn and create in a stigma-free space.

“We are trying to create an equitable, inclusive environment where kids have access to something outside of their community,” Dillon said.

What started as an afterschool program of just over a dozen kids at Lake View Elementary, has now expanded to include Emerson Elementary and a space at the Goodman Community Center. Dillon said they plan to expand to Black Hawk Middle School in the fall and will also have a space at Madison’s Youth Arts Center once it opens.

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