Fortune’s Annual Arts Festival: Celebrating Community and Healing

Fortune’s Annual Arts Festival: Celebrating Community and Healing


Last Saturday, our Arts team hosted Fortune’s 10th Annual Arts Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park!  

Our Annual Arts Festival is a powerful celebration of community and creativity’s healing and transformative powers, made possible with support from NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Throughout the day, nearly 2,000 visitors enjoyed immersive art-making workshops and listened to powerful live performances from over 30 talented Fortune artists.  

Our Director of Creative Arts, Jamie Maleszka, kicked off the festival with a few words, followed by several spoken word performances.  

Mario, a contributing artist and Fortune’s Arts Coordinator, shared a powerful poem detailing his experience after his release from prison. He expressed how art plays a significant role in his healing and connecting with his community, specifically at The Fortune Society.   

“Being able to reach people is my favorite part about performing. I get to share my art, the thing that I found that saved my life. It’s my passion and my purpose, and I can help people who come from the same place,” said Mario. 

After the festival kicked off, visitors explored activities set up around the park. At the crown-making workshop, visitors used pipe cleaners to create colorful crowns with the help of some festival volunteers. Looking around the park, many visitors proudly wore their new crowns while enjoying the rest of the festival.   

Our terrarium building workshop was another hit, led by artist, Fortune participant and gardener, Becky Jane Dunham! With step-by-step instructions and guidance from our festival volunteers, visitors created their own terrariums out of donated jars. Throughout the day, visitors were also encouraged to try out screen printing. Visitors could choose from several unique designs to print on a canvas or tote bag to take home with them.  

With the event’s impressive turnout, Mario was proud to share his work with a larger community and to represent Fortune’s mission for those who did not yet know about the organization.  

“I see people who I don’t know if they have any relation to me or being in prison, but they’re here to learn more. I think explaining to them about the organization is cool, to reach the outside world,” he said. 

Marvin, another contributing artist at our Annual Arts Festival, shared a similar sentiment. He sees his role as an artist as a representative of Fortune and a role model for others.  

“I’m a reflection of the brothers and sisters coming home, and people here can see that. People can grow and get a second chance, and my sharing here shows them that. I want to be that example,” Marvin said. 

Marvin also shared his original spoken word on stage and introduced many of the Fortune performers. He is a mentor for others in his community and can connect with them through his passion for writing and art.  

At an in-person, visual exhibition, visitors to the park were invited to explore and learn while engaging with art submitted by Fortune participant artists. 

Sarah, another contributing artist at this year’s Arts Festival, submitted her original art and performed a song on stage. She began drawing and painting at 13-years-old and has since used her creativity as an emotional outlet. At the Annual Arts Festival, she felt some nerves while preparing to go on stage, but the support she received from the community encouraged her to perform.  

“I was getting a little nervous, but my friends told me I could do it. I thought about my family next to me, and I started dancing and singing. Art helps me calm down my anxiety. It helps me feel better about myself and feel happy,” said Sarah. 

The encouragement Sarah received from the community and the joy she felt while performing are the goals of the Annual Arts Festival.  Visitors and contributing artists alike saw firsthand art’s power as an incredible healing tool.  

For many in our community, including artists like Marvin, art has become crucial to their lives. “Coming here to the Arts Festival and being here amongst all the people, sharing the energy with the art of spoken word is beautiful. It’s therapeutic, I love it. I’ll be here every year.” 

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

Thank you to Bob Krasner for capturing these beautiful photos from our Annual Arts Festival. 

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