John Runowicz, Manager of Creative Arts at The Fortune Society

Creative Arts At The Fortune Society

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Creative Arts are flourishing and expanding at The Fortune Society! As our first Manager of Creative Arts, I am the point-person for all arts-related activities across the organization which include music, theater, drawing, video, and digital animation. The arts have been a part of The Fortune Society since its founding in 1967, when David Rothenberg formed the organization after producing the play, Fortune and Men’s Eyes. The play captured the harsh realities of life in prison and generated important public discussion about the need for criminal justice reform and reentry services for people upon their release from incarceration.

Nearly 50 years later, we are evolving our creative arts programs in numerous ways. This spring, we will be presenting our third annual Arts Festival with musical, theatrical, and video presentations at our Castle Gardens facility from March to June and a week-long series of events at our Long Island City facility (LIC) and Castle Gardens at the end of April. The festival will showcase the creative work produced in our various arts programs. For example, we are in our fourth year as a partner in the Public Works theater project, which includes weekly acting classes culminating in shows at our festival and participation in a series of performances at the end of the summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This year, we will be performing a new musical version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night!

John, holding a guitar, practicing his love for music

John Runowicz, Manager of Creative Arts.

Our festival will also feature participants from our monthly Music Café series where clients and staff perform in Pop, Rock, R&B, Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz and Classical musical styles. During the April festival week, participant art-work will be on display throughout the LIC facility. Much of this work is being produced in a weekly drawing class taught by emerging artist and Fortune client, Guy Woodard, whose exhibition was recently featured in a Fox News television report. The festival will also feature the following: digital animations by Fortune students created in a weekly workshop run by The Animation Project; video projects produced in our media lab at Castle Gardens, client improvisational theater demonstrations led by Cherub Improv teachers; original recordings produced in our LIC recording studio; and, much more!

The arts have proven to be a powerful vehicle for connecting and engaging with people outside of The Fortune Society community. One of the cornerstones of our arts program for the past several years has been the play, The Castle – an original Fortune production directed by David Rothenberg and co-written and performed by former residents of our Castle housing facility in West Harlem. The performers have presented their moving personal stories of crime, privation, and redemption Off-Broadway and in community centers, prisons, and schools all over the New York metropolitan area. Upcoming performances of The Castle are slated for the Fortune Arts Festival.

Finally, our arts outreach also includes educational programs with Museum of Modern Art and The New Museum and we continue to cultivate new relations with outside arts organizations to expose our participants to the ever-widening array of expressive culture offered in New York City.

If you have any questions regarding The Fortune Society’s arts programming and the upcoming Arts Festival, please reach out to me at jrunowicz@fortunesociety.org. Stay tuned!

Categories: Community

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