History of Reforming Arts

Reforming Arts began in 2009 with one woman teaching one theatre class at one prison. In 2010 it became one woman teaching two theatre classes at two prisons, then two women teaching two classes, and then back to one when Metro State Women’s Prison closed.


Along the way, our executive director, Wende Ballew researched the history of criminal justice in the United States, prison theatre programs, and prison education programs. What she found was a glimmer of hope buried within a disturbing history of punitive measures that profits a small group of stakeholders. This glimmer of hope was education. She also found women who longed to learn, who wanted to be challenged, and who wanted more for themselves than their current environment provided. Thus, Reforming Arts was born.


Officially founded as a Georgia nonprofit corporation in 2010, Reforming Arts has grown from one woman teaching one class to a thriving organization that provides top quality arts and humanities higher education classes to over forty students each quarter. In a short time, we went from a couple of concerned individuals to a growing movement of artists, educators, and citizens who are impacting the lives of imprisoned women and giving them the tools to change their lives.