Prison Performing Arts

A nonprofit organization

Prison Performing Arts (PPA) is a multi-discipline, literacy and performing arts program dedicated to enriching the lives of youth and adults in Missouri's criminal and juvenile justice systems. We foster individual and social change by providing the incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated, with opportunities to participate in the arts as artists, students, and audience members. Participants learn creative and constructive ways to express emotions, build trust, and work in collaboration with one another. Our programs aim to improve literacy and communication skills, instill responsibility to self and others, and promote non-violent expression of emotion.

A documentary on our work, "Prison Performing Arts: The Voice Within", is available to stream on Amazon, Peacock, and Tubi.
Prison Performing Arts was featured in a full, one-hour episode of NPR's This American Life. The episode, "Act V", is on the show's Short List of listener favorites.


  • St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center
  • St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center
  • Hogan Street Regional Youth Center (DYS, St. Louis)
  • Northeast Correctional Center (NECC in Bowling Green, MO)
  • Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC in Vandalia, MO)
  • Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC in Pacific, MO)
  • Transition Center of St. Louis (TCSTL in St. Louis, MO)
  • MO State Department of Probation and Parole - District 17 in St. Charles, MO
  • Alumni Theatre Company of returning citizens


Prison Performing Arts involves incarcerated youth and adults in the performing arts to inspire intellectual curiosity and personal development. We nurture the discipline, teamwork and communication skills necessary for successful re-entry into society. We encourage members of the larger community to connect personally with program participants, and we offer continuing programs for participants who have been released.

Organization Data


Organization name

Prison Performing Arts

Tax id (EIN)



Other, Social Justice, Education, Arts & Culture - Theaters, Arts & Culture

Operating Budget

Small: $250,001 - $1,000,000

Service Area

St Louis City

Audiences Served

Veterans, Women, Men, Teens, BILPOC, Older Adults, Military, LGBTQIA+, Justice-Involved Individuals, People with Disabilities


3333 Washington Avenue Suite 203-B
St. Louis, MO 63103