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Livable Lives:

Arts Education in the Prison Industrial Complex

What happens when Theater of the Oppressed meets the prison industrial complex? Wende Ballew, Executive Director of Reforming Arts, shares their work to bring high-quality arts-centered liberal education to women who must make their lives in and through contexts of state carceral control.

about our guest/s

Wende Ballew is the Executive Director of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit organization that brings theater-based and arts-centered college liberal arts education to women who are imprisoned in the state of Georgia or who have recently been released. They come to this work from a background in theater, business, and gender studies. Before coming to Reforming Arts, Wende worked with the Open Door Community to coordinate monthly visitation trips so that metro Atlanta area families could visit their loved ones imprisoned in Hardwick, GA. This work, as well as their experience teaching in the prison industrial system, led them to co-found the Georgia Coalition of Higher Education in Prison and the Southern Collective within the Higher Education in Prison Alliance. They have won numerous awards for their educational and social justice leadership. Learn more about their work by tuning into a public conversation they had with Ebon Dooley at ArtsXchange.

Above, they are pictured with the rest of the Reforming Arts staff — Wende stands to the middle-right wearing a baseball cap, brown vest, and horned glasses.