Now, Krimes is serving not only as a fellow, but an advisor for the Right of Return program, as is Craig. Indeed the fellowship began to take shape only after someone from Open Philanthropy approached Krimes after a panel at “Truth to Power.” Soze soon joined forces with the organization, and the wheels were set in motion.
The goal of the initiative, Krimes says, is to go beyond “elevating” marginalized artists, and actually “help people get back on their feet doing something that they love and provide actual economic support.”
By partnering with nonprofits, the fellows can create work that has a chance of changing a criminal justice system that overwhelmingly imprisons minorities and non-violent drug offenders.
“Artists are critical in terms of strategy and providing a vision,” says Daveen Trentman, production director at Soze. “And it has to be formerly incarcerated artists to give us a vision for our path forward to a more just society. We’re honored to be following the lead of those who have been directly impacted.”
Applications are open through April 21st. As of last week, they’d already received more than 50 applicants, with more to come. The remaining three slots will be filled by a juried selection process, with both the members and the nonprofits participating to be announced in the coming weeks.
Though this year is limited to five fellows, Krimes and Trentman say the hope is for that number to grow in the future as more funding becomes available.
“The art field is one of the fields where you don’t have to allow that stigma of being formerly incarcerated to keep you silent or be a barrier,” Krimes says. “It’s a space where you can own it and develop yourself.”