Who we are

Formed in 2017, Confluence Arts Collective is a group of multidisciplinary artists who have come together over a shared investment in dignity, humanity, and justice for people experiencing incarceration.

The collective is Lisa Bozikovic (musician and songwriter, social worker), Nikki Shaffeeullah (theatre artist, AD of The AMY Project), Sasha Tate-Howarth (theatre and literary arts), Fiona Raye Clark (playwright, criminal defense lawyer), Amina Mohammed (multidisciplinary artist, DJ, community worker), Ashley Riley (theatre artist, community worker), Sonja Rainey (installation and design artist), and Jackie Omstead (theatre artist, criminal justice policy /prison arts researcher). We are a culturally diverse, BIPOC-majority, queer-majority group of women and non-binary people.

We know each other through past collaborations on community arts and activist work in Tkaronto, amiskwaciwâskahikan, and elsewhere. In Fall 2017, Jackie Omstead, with a background of facilitating theatre projects in prisons in Katarokwi (Kingston, ON) as well as at Beaver Creek Institution in Gravenhurst, ON, organized what has come to be Confluence’s first project: a series of  workshops for women incarcerated at the minimum unit at the Grand Valley Institution.

We deeply believe in the power of art to offer affirming, healing and even transformative space for people experiencing social marginalizations. Indeed, many of us have come to community arts through a desire to carve out space for ourselves and our own communities. However, at times have found it challenging to manifest meaningful social change when delivering community arts programming through or in partnership with institutions or larger non-profit organizations. Our work has provided a context for us to come together as a grassroots artist-activist collective and very intentionally work to discover how we can facilitate artistic work grounded in social justice.

For some of us who, elsewhere, have been navigating state institutions and their repercussions (i.e. supporting incarcerated family members; facilitating healing with family around surviving residential schools; etc), our work with Confluence is an empowering counterpoint, a space to practice agency and creativity when trying to transform seemingly unshiftable social systems.

The music takes me places and makes me forget I am here
— Participant in GVI workshops

our approach

Our community engagement goals are centred on building joyful, humanizing, creative spaces that:

  • Connect incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people with art-making resources they may not have access to, including facilitation from arts professionals

  • Create platforms for peer to peer mentorship, and collaboration amongst formerly incarcerated people, incarcerated people, and those who not been incarcerated.

  • Nourish platforms for incarcerated and formally incarcerated people to affirm their own and each other’s creativity, dignity, humanity

  • Explore our identities outside of, and because of, criminal convictions, social marginalizations, and incarceration