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Prison Performing Arts is a multi-discipline, literacy and performing arts program dedicated to enriching the lives of youth and adults in Missouri’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. We foster individual and social change by providing incarcerated adults, justice-involved youth, and returning citizens with opportunities to participate in the arts as artists, students, and audience members. Participants learn creative and constructive ways to express emotions, build trust, and work in collaboration with one another. Our programs aim to improve literacy and communication skills, instill responsibility to self and others, and to promote non-violent expression of emotion.

A group of women at WERDCC dance during a performance of "First Impressions."

Prison Performing Arts involves incarcerated youth and adults in the performing arts to inspire intellectual curiosity and personal development. We nurture the discipline, teamwork and communication skills necessary for successful re-entry into society. We encourage members of the larger community to connect personally with program participants, and we offer continuing programs for participants who have been released.

A woman holding a skull performs the role of Hamlet in a production of "Hip Hop Hamlet" at NECC.

The Prison Performing Arts community is deeply rooted in acceptance, collaboration, and inclusion. We come from all walks of life and believe that embracing our differences makes us better artists, learners, teachers, staff, and board members. People of color and the LGBTQIA+ community are often unfairly and disproportionately targeted by the carceral system. However, our work within juvenile and adult correctional centers is an opportunity to heal these collective injustices. We denounce behaviors fueled by prejudice and are fully committed to being an anti-racist, anti-discriminatory organization. Our programs intentionally create opportunities for authentic self-expression that validate the worth and dignity of each person. All members of the PPA community have a responsibility to act with respect toward all. While PPA fosters a diversity of artistic voices, we recognize that we have much learning – and unlearning – to do as we strive to be more inclusive and equitable in all of our practices.

The cast of "Run On Sentence" pose with playwright Stacie Lents and former PPA Artistic Director Christopher Lmber.
Three men perform in "The Caverns of Wingwood" in front of an audience at NECC.

Division of Probation & Parole - District 17


Hogan Street Regional Youth Center

Missouri Eastern Correctional Center

Northeast Correctional Center

St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center

St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center

Transition Center of St. Louis

Women’s Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center

The offices of Prison Performing Arts and the facilities we serve are located on the ancestral lands of the Osage, Missouri, and Illini people, who were removed unjustly, and we in this community are the beneficiaries of that removal. We honor them as we live, work, and study today. Indigenous peoples have inhabited Missouri since time immemorial, and currently, there are over 183,400 Native Americans living in the state. To learn more, please visit the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies.

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