California Lawyers for the Arts

Serving the creative arts community

Grantee Cohort Fall 2017, Spring 2019

Location California and National

Founded in 1974, California Lawyers for the Arts (CLA) provides education, representation, and dispute resolution while articulating a role for the arts in community development. Its vision is for artists and arts organizations to serve as agents of democratic involvement, innovation, and positive social change. It believes that an empowered arts sector is essential to healthy communities.

Through an Art for Justice Art and Advocacy grant, CLA will support artist-activists Stone Singh and Christopher Duffy in creating and installing a 12-foot high monumental sculpture, “In God We Trust,” in the multicultural Sacramento neighborhood of Alkali Flat, locus of Chicano activism. The Chicano movement, born in the 1940s and 50s, is a celebration of culture and identity among indigenous Mexican people born in the U.S. “In God We Trust” will call attention to the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that codifies the modern enslavement and involuntary servitude of individuals convicted of crimes. In short, Singh and Duffy’s work will speak volumes about the legacy of slavery and oppression that prevails today in the nation’s criminal legal system.

Art for Justice previously supported CLA’s Art for Justice State Forum project, which is advancing the agenda of reducing mass incarceration through six one-day forums that take place in states with high prison populations. The funding also helped CLA support the arts and justice community organizations that participate in those forums as they developed follow-up activities and work toward specific outcomes that benefit both sectors in concrete ways.

The Fund is also supported CLA and grantee partner Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) partnering with the Louisiana State Arts Council and the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development to hold 10- to 12-week art classes in at least three parish jails and/or transitional facilities. Once classes concluded, students took a survey and CLA wrote a report based on findings and presented it to Louisiana justice and arts leaders, with the hope that the state will continue to support arts education in jails. This project scales up California Lawyers for the Arts’ successful California demonstration project.