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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 9:36 pm | Fair 50º


Ex-Offenders’ Poetic Justice Project Gets Boost from The Fund for Santa Barbara

Theater company based in Santa Maria receives $10,000 grant

The Poetic Justice Project, a theater company for formerly incarcerated people, begins 2012 with a $10,000 grant from The Fund for Santa Barbara.

Based in Santa Maria, the Poetic Justice Project engages formerly incarcerated cast and crew members from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, aiming to unlock hearts and minds with bold, original theater.

“We are extremely grateful to The Fund for Santa Barbara,” Artistic Director Deborah Tobola said. “These funds will allow us to pay key staff members who have been volunteering for three years, since we began.”

In addition to producing theater that examines crime, punishment and redemption, the Poetic Justice Project offers workshops to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

Past productions include Blue Train, Off The Hook and Women Behind the Walls. The Poetic Justice Project also performed Of Mice and Men last year at the 31st International Steinbeck Festival in Salinas. The company is currently in production of Planet of Love, which will be performed in March in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria and Lompoc.

On Feb. 11, the Poetic Justice Project will present the second “Art of Justice” public forum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 313 W. Tunnell St. in Santa Maria.

This year’s theme is “Inside/Out: Looking at Prisoner Realignment” and features a keynote address by Santa Barbara County Chief Probation Officer Beverly Taylor.

From 6 to 9 p.m. that evening will be “Bleeding Hearts Valentine Bash,” a fundraising event for the Poetic Justice Project, also at the Veterans’ Memorial Center.

The Poetic Justice Project, based in Santa Maria, is a program of the award-winning William James Association, based in Santa Cruz, which provides arts instruction to people on parole and probation, prisoners and youth at risk of incarceration. For more information, click here or click here to connect with the Poetic Justice Project on Facebook.

— Deborah Tobola is artistic director of the Poetic Justice Project.

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