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(Image courtesy: Lexington County Chronicle)

South Carolina Philharmonic and Arts Capacity Bring Music to Local Prisons

Partnering with the nonprofit Arts Capacity, the orchestra has planned a series of concerts to be performed in South Carolina prison environments


The South Carolina Philharmonic has partnered with Arts Capacity — a charitable nonprofit organization that brings live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prison centers. The organizations will host music concerts at Columbia’s Camille Graham Correctional Facility, writes The Post and Courier.

Arts Capacity was founded by the acclaimed violinist Holly Mulcahy, who explains that the new initiative aligns with the nonprofit’s goal of helping people in need through the power of art, culture, communication, and live music. The hope is that the arts can help people cope with challenges and develop the capacity to change for good, the Lexington County Chronicle reports.

Similarly, existing music programs for prisons include Jazz musician Steve Simon’s band the Kings of Jazz, which have played shows at the Perry Correctional Institute in Pelzer, S.C., plus have given prisoners their own donated instruments to practice and perform on. 

Mulcahy hopes the direction of concerts is guided by the incarcerated people in attendance, and that the performances also consider their musical preferences. Arts Capacity will also continue to collect data to measure its impact — the data tracks prosocial behavior, emotional intelligence, how people are connecting with their families, and recidivism.

The Lexington Chronicle writes that according to SC Philharmonic’s education and community outreach director Susan Cafferty, the orchestra hopes its new initiative with Arts Capacity will become a long-term program.

Should the program develop further, Cafferty adds that the orchestra plans to offer free concert subscriptions to participants once they’re released. 20 SC Philharmonic musicians have expressed interest in being involved with the Arts Capacity partnership, the initiative’s first concert is scheduled to occur later this year.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the South Carolina Philharmonic to channel the potent force of music, not only within prison walls but also through the corridors of family connections and community bonds,” Mulcahy said. “In uniting our efforts, our aim is to cultivate healing, strengthen familial ties, and spur personal growth among participants. Through this partnership, we aspire to build a future where the impact extends far beyond the correctional system, influencing positive outcomes within families and communities.

“It is a profound honor to stand alongside the South Carolina Philharmonic in bringing the uplifting essence of music to incarcerated individuals in South Carolina,” she continued. “Music, with its ability to transcend barriers, has the potential to not only uplift spirits but also fortify the foundations of families and communities. We are eager to share our passion with those who stand to benefit the most from its transformative effects, and in doing so, contribute to building a future that embraces the power of interconnectedness and shared growth.”

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