A Celebration of Art and Liberation: Fortune’s Annual Arts Festival

A Celebration of Art and Liberation: Fortune’s Annual Arts Festival


On Saturday, June 22, Fortune’s Creative Arts team hosted their 11th annual Arts Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park! Attendees showed up despite the weather to celebrate community, liberation and the arts.   

The festival is a powerful celebration highlighting art’s transformative and healing power. This year, visitors enjoyed hands-on art-making workshops, live spoken word and music performances, an immersive exhibit from The People’s Bus and more family-friendly festivities.   

John, Manager of Creative Arts, and Marvin, another talented member of the arts community, kicked off the festival, followed by live performances from over 25 Fortune artists. 

Daniel, Fortune’s Creative Arts and Literacy Advocate, joined Mario, our Creative Arts Coordinator, for a live performance of “The Basics,” featured on Success Stories Vol. 2 released by the arts community earlier this year. Daniel was thrilled to be a part of the festival for a second year.

“You see the looks on people’s faces when they see the exhibits. They ask questions about what we’re doing, who we are, and what we offer. It’s amazing that we’re bringing this to the community.”   

Throughout the day, Fortune volunteers facilitated several engaging art-making workshops. Lee Kim, a contributing artist, returned for a second year to conduct the crown-making workshop. With her guidance, festival visitors created colorful, towering crowns from pipe cleaners to wear around the park.  

Cinthia, Fortune’s Creative Arts Senior Associate, led a birdhouse and owl pot painting workshop. She provided paints and brushes to paint small owl pots and birdhouses and offered various seed options for attendees to take home to grow in their new pots. 

The People’s Bus, formerly used to transport people detained on Rikers Island, has been transformed into a community center on wheels. It is an initiative of New York City’s Civic Engagement Commission in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Public Artist in Residency program. In collaboration with Emancipated Stories, they offered an immersive experience for the festival’s attendees.

The Emancipated Stories project aims to bridge incarcerated individuals with people outside. Incarcerated writers across the country share one-page letters about their lives and volunteers on the outside write them back. Festival visitors read these letters and wrote heartfelt responses while viewing a beaded mural inside the bus.    

Jessica, a programming director for The People’s Bus, shared her thoughts on the profound impact of bringing these stories to community events like the Arts Festival.

“For so many people who are incarcerated, life is very isolating. I was reading these stories yesterday and almost cried, so it’s impactful for both people who are incarcerated and for the people who are reading their stories. People can learn about things going on inside that we don’t always talk about.”

We also saw a performance from the Fortune Singers, who debuted in June! The choir includes participants and staff, highlighting some talented individuals in our community.    

Helen, a participant and member of the Fortune Singers, shared that the Arts Festival is one of her most cherished events. For Helen, the festival creates a powerful feeling of boundless joy and community, and she enjoys sharing that feeling with the greater community. 

“I look forward to the Arts Festival every year. People enjoy us coming out here and performing for them. It’s like they wait for us each year, and I want to be a part of that because it makes somebody happy out there.” 

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Arts Festival! For many in the Fortune community, art has played a pivotal role. They are grateful to share their art with the community, and to continue spreading the message of art as a tool for healing and transformation.

“This is Fortune, our mission statement of building people and not prisons,” Daniel shared. “To see it happen in real-time is incredible. Even though it’s hot outside, we still have people who showed up to be here. They do it with us. That is powerful.”

To learn more about Fortune’s Art Community, please visit the Art Portal.   

Photo credit to Hollis Johnson/CRNY and Bob Krasner.

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