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Working in the arts and CJS

Working in the arts and criminal justice sector

  • See our good practice guide to working in arts and criminal justice here

Working in the arts and criminal justice is incredibly competitive, but can also be incredibly rewarding. There are many ways to work in the sector. For example, as an independent artist delivering workshops, as part of an arts organisation, within academia or in a prison or community setting. You will generally need an up to date DBS check if you are going to be working directly with vulnerable adults, although these can often be gained through your organisation if you are an employee.


Many people gain the necessary experience by volunteering their time to an organisation or a prison. Try approaching organisations local to you to see if they have any vacancies. There are mutual benefits to volunteering – many small-scale organisations are very grateful for the time and energy volunteers are able to give, and volunteers can gain a huge amount of experience and skills in a short space of time. We advertise volunteering opportunities on our Opportunities page, but you might also want to explore the Clinks directory of organisations to find organisations you can get in touch with directly about volunteering.

Setting up your own organisation

If you are a practitioner already working in the field, or with vulnerable adults and the arts more generally, you might be thinking about setting up your own organisation. One of the first things to consider is whether the needs or issues that you perceive are already being addressed. Research local needs, issues and groups to find out what other similar organisations exist in your area. You can find out more about setting up your own organisation on Clinks’ website.


The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) runs a professional mentoring scheme, which might be suitable for you if you are new to working in the arts and criminal justice sector but already have some experience of using the arts with vulnerable or marginalised people. The scheme pairs new and emerging arts and criminal justice practitioners with experienced professionals to aid development and the transfer of skills and knowledge in the field. Click here for more information on how to get involved


If you are already working in the sector, or are looking to work in the sector, one thing is for sure, continuing your professional development and undertaking training is absolutely key. Due to the complex and fluid nature of working in the arts and criminal justice, you may benefit from training in a wide range of areas. For example, general training in using arts interventions within criminal justice settings, or specific training such as working with a particular group of offenders, or focusing on how to manage difficult situations.

Following a review of the training needs of our network, the NCJAA offers a bursary scheme and Introduction to arts in prisons course (currently in redevelopment).

See our events page for upcoming training opportunities within the sector from both the NCJAA and the wider sector.


There are a few places where you can find advertised jobs including on our opportunities page. Additionally, you can try:

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Fun to Do, HMP Blantyre House, Image courtesy of the Koestler Trust