Theater Artists Connect with At-Risk Teens through Restorative Justice Program

The Tennessean 

By Amy Stumpfl

We often think of theater purely in terms of entertainment. But thanks to a unique partnership between the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) and the Oasis Center, a group of local artists are making positive changes in the lives of young people.

“Research has proven that the arts dramatically improve outcomes for young people who are involved with the juvenile justice system,” says Rebecca Kinslow, community and organizational development director for the Metro Nashville Arts Commission. “Intensive arts participation improves education performance, civic participation and contributes to social emotional learning.”

The Restorative Justice & the Arts program started in 2017, when Metro implemented a new “Public Investment Planning” approach to budgeting that “challenged Metro departments and agencies to think creatively about how they can collaborate on pilot initiatives to better serve Nashvillians.”

“Judge Sheila Calloway is leading the way to reform Juvenile Court through restorative practices, and Metro Arts knew the arts were a proven tool for supporting healing and resiliency,” Kinslow says. “Along with Oasis Center, arts organizations and individual artists, we formed a coalition dedicated to supporting the physical, social, emotional and cognitive well-being of court-involved youth through the arts.”

Continue reading.