Sobin is director of the D.C.-based Safe Streets Arts Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes communication through the arts for inmates and others involved in criminal justice.
What are the goals of Safe Streets Arts Foundation?
We seek to use the arts as a rehabilitative and therapeutic tool for men and women in prison, and more broadly as a means for others in the justice community to convey their ideas and feelings. We feature the work of prisoners in our Prison Art Gallery while our annual Justice Arts Program at the Kennedy Center is presented as part of the Kennedy Center's Page-to-Stage Festival.
How does engaging in the arts help inmates?
[It] helps inmates develop a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. It also helps them convey their message through their art: an apology, a call for reconciliation or a cry of innocence.
What upcoming initiatives does Safe Streets Arts have planned?
In the performing arts, 2010 marks our fifth annual Justice Arts Program at the Kennedy Center, and we intend to make it our best yet. We will be expanding our Prison Art Gallery while also bringing our collection into the community with the help of restaurants, retail establishments and other businesses that wish to display our socially meaningful pieces.
What challenges does the foundation face?
We are getting more art than we can display and sell. So we are expanding our gallery and seeking satellite locations. Another challenge we face is the stigma of people coming home from prison.
How did the foundation get started?
The Safe Streets Arts Foundation is an outgrowth of the Prisons Foundation, which sought to improve training and educational opportunities. But the discovery was made that no matter how much training and education are made available to prisoners, they will not succeed without self-esteem. So the Safe Streets Arts Foundation came about to give them that self-esteem.