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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS)

Prison Arts Initiative

Prison Arts Initiative

University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI)

The University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative promotes access to high-quality therapeutic arts programs to incarcerated people in Colorado with the goal of empowering individuals to improve the quality of their lives and prepare to make positive changes in their communities upon release. DU PAI sees this work as part of DU's commitment to be "a great private university dedicated to the public good."

DU PAI Mission

DU PAI generates creative and collaborative learning experiences that enrich the lives of incarcerated people and shift the conversation about prison.


The University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative's (DU PAI) special production of A Christmas Carol will be performed, designed and produced by 40 incarcerated women from the Colorado Department of Correction. This historical and revolutionary production of Dickens's timeless tale invites audiences to consider redemption, rehabilitation and the possibilities of a warm celebration in the midst of a cold winter. Over the last five months this group of incarcerated women at Denver Womens' Correctional Facility has worked closely with DU PAI's faculty and staff to craft a delightful performance right out of Dickens's own text that is as fresh today as it was in 1843. While most of the performers and designers have never created theatre before, they have jumped into this project with joyful enthusiasm for their own version of Ebenezer Scrooge's transformation. This production is made possible through a collaboration between the University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative and the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The play will be performed both in the Denver Women's Correctional Facility Gym and at the University of Denver's Newman Center for the Performing Arts. If you would like to attend one of the DWC performances, please email [email protected] to secure your spot.

Public Performances 

Denver Women's Correctional
Facility Gym

December 6th and 7th

DU's Newman Center for the
Performing Arts

December 12th and 13th


The DU Prison Arts Initiative and the Colorado Department of Corrections Present A Christmas Carol.


DU PAI Workshop participants practice a theatre exercise. DU PAI involves participants in the leadership group to give them a voice in the program and a chance to practice leadership skills.

Arts-Based Workshop Programs

Group Leadership Program

DU PAI Family Events provide fun, therapeutic art experiences for participants and their visiting family members. The Inside/Out college program will bring DU students to take classes with the prison participants.

Family Events Program

Inside/Out College Course Program

DU Prison Arts Podcast, With(in)

With(in) Podcast — Shifting the conversation on who is in prison



DU PAI Values


  1. Provides therapeutic, educational creative arts programming to incarcerated people and their families in Colorado state prisons;
  2. Facilitates dialogue and storytelling between incarcerated people and their communities via exhibits, performances, media, and commissioned works;
  3. Creates caring communities for students characterised by learning, creative expression, and authentic human connection;
  4. Delivers shared arts-based learning experiences to incarcerated people, correctional staff, and DU students
  5. Engages leadership of incarcerated people in the development and delivery of programming.
  6. Offers training and consulting on the use of the arts to liberate people and transform spaces in correctional settings;
  7. Conducts rigorous research to examine the impact of the arts on personal and social narratives of crime, incarceration, harm, and healing.

DU PAI is central to DU's commitment to be "a great private university dedicated to the public good."