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Right of Return Fellowship
Frieze Impact Prize 2024
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Vision Statement

The Center for Art and Advocacy believes there is an abundance of uncultivated talent and exceptional creativity among individuals who share the lived experience of incarceration. At a time when our country leads the world in the criminalization of its most vulnerable populations, often made up of people with marginalized identities, we find that justice-impacted artists within the U.S. are especially at risk of being under-funded, under-mentored, under-resourced, and under-connected within the traditional institutions and arts communities. This is why The Center aims to improve these outcomes for our most vulnerable creatives by providing financial and community support via our catalytic flagship, the Right of Return Fellowship, mentoring and professional development through our capacity-building Academy and Arts Incubator program, and the opportunity for industry-wide recognition and dedicated time to develop their projects through our premiere Residency and Retreat in rural Pennsylvania. Their distinctive perspective makes this community specially equipped to advance change throughout the United States through the reframing of our society’s criminal legal narrative and advocacy for racial justice and equity, using the vehicle of art to build, organize, and support local and national movements.


The Center for Art and Advocacy (The Center) was established in 2022 to serve as a direct path to sustainability and equity for artists directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Built on the success of the Right of Return Fellowship (ROR), founded in 2017 by internationally renowned and formerly incarcerated artists Jesse Krimes and Russell Craig, The Center was created to provide a multi-purposed network that actively engages in the conversation about transformative justice practices–and the critical role they play in the arts community-at-large. 

As the fellowship grew, and with it the potential for national impact, it became evident that additional resources were needed to thoroughly support and develop this talented community. The Center is now a legacy project of the Art for Justice Fund, a six-year initiative (2017-2023) established by Agnes Gund and managed by the Ford Foundation and Rockerfeller Philanthropy Advisors to end mass incarceration and underlying racial bias through art and advocacy. Since 2022, the Mellon Foundation has also provided foundational support to develop and sustain the Center. 

We are proud of the fact that within the first five years of the establishment of the Center and the Right of Return Fellowship, our fellows have gone on to receive MacArthur Fellowships, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, Creative Capital Awards, and Art for Justice grants. A catalytic and first award for many of our fellows, the recipient’s work has already been collected and exhibited at museums including the MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and MoMA Ps1, amongst many others.

The Future

The Center is committed to prioritizing our formerly incarcerated artists as they develop their skills, innovate within their fields, and take on new leadership roles. We look to affirm their value and voice by creating a meaningful space where they can continue growing and thriving. Our growing initiative is comprised of three core programs: The Right of Return Fellowship, The Academy and Incubator, and The Residency and Retreat. Each features public components, including exhibitions, performances, talks, and convenings, which are held at The Center for Art and Advocacy hub in New York, online, and at collaborating cultural institutions around the country.



The Right of Return Fellowship

The first of its kind, the ROR Fellowship offers an annual award of $10,000 in unrestricted funds and $10,000 in project development funds to previously incarcerated artists. Fellows are invited to an annual retreat to network with previous fellows, advocates, industry leaders, and funders. During the retreat, they can present their project proposals to the cohort, receive feedback from their peers, and participate in New York City’s many cultural events.

Current and Previous Fellows

Academy and Incubator

A new initiative, the Academy and Incubator, is intended to provide non-monetary support to formerly incarcerated artists who are emerging or further developing their artistic practice by giving them the skills and tools they need to find sustainability and equity in the field. The curriculum includes foundational programming in craft and portfolio development; intermediate professional development in contract writing, personal finance, and resume building; and masterclasses in cultivating transformative mental health and wellness practices, social justice advocacy, and community capacity-building techniques.

Residency and Retreat

The residency, located in Northeast Pennsylvania, will serve as a generative space where our most pivotal artists and advocates can come together for reflection, learning, relationships, discovery, creativity, healing, and strategy.

It will offer short- and long-term stays to both our Academy and Right of Return alumni and leading social justice advocates from around the nation. Our programming will include intimate workshops, curated talks, strategic planning sessions, and two annual Right of Return retreats designed to uplift and empower attendees in a historical setting.

How to Apply

Please continue to check this website and follow us on social media for future application cycles and opportunities.
Please find us on X at @RightofReturnUS and Instagram at @centerforartandadvocacy.

To find out more about what our fellows are up to, please follow us on Twitter at @RightofReturnUS and Instagram at @centerforartandadvocacy.


Sta Nus re nonsenditi repudi iderum quissi odio omnissincto inctur, idelenda di nist eiciet raepe volore sitati corro tora sum ut eos aut alitio ma eos utaersp eruptus autest



Our board of directors are Dwayne Betts, Kate Capshaw, Russell Craig, Kate Fowle, Stephanie Ingrassia, and Daveen Trentman. As Executive Director, Jesse Krimes is ex officio.


For more information about our programs, our fellows, upcoming events, and media inquiries, please contact us at the email

For press inquiries, please reach out to the team at ALMA.

For more information about our programs, our fellows, upcoming events, and media inquiries, please contact us at the email

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