Scene from a performance of Outside/In: The Connection Project

“My recovery was one day at a time…but something was missing. I wasn’t completely engaged in life and the world around me. But when I joined Outside/In I got a dose of energy that inspires me continuously… I’m doing this because I feel free from the chains that surround my soul…”

“To me, this program has been my biggest accomplishment thus far. It’s been the highlight of my life.”

Arts Justice was created in 2001 and identified a new strategic goal in 2013: to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Arts Justice soon became the leading arts program provider at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. As our students were released from jail, we wanted the program to support them during their re-entry transition. Outside/In allows students to continue the vital work that began inside rehabilitation and to support their transition to daily civilian life.

Today Outside/In is a transitional company of 100 members who create new, short works inspired by their personal experiences and current social issues. Returning citizens who have previously been incarcerated and people in residential addiction recovery programs are eligible for Outside/In. Conservatory students and alumni who have a deeply vested interest in art, theater and social good may volunteer to support the ensemble. Suzy PetchEam, who leads this program, was once a student and was the first alum to join the studio’s leadership team.

The Outside/In ensemble creates community, connection and supports self-expression, providing rituals for success in the form of twice annual performances. Suzy works with ensemble members to identify a theme that resonates with the group and write biographically inspired scenes and monologues. This program is a free, bi-monthly class that creates two shows each year which perform at the studio and in multiple locations across New York City.