NCJAA presents Inspire and the Inspiring Futures project online virtual exhibition
Here at the NCJAA our aim is to ensure the arts are used within the criminal justice system as a springboard for positive change. Against the backdrop of a volatile financial environment, a loss of specialist staff and increasing administrative barriers to do what the arts do best; it has become imperative for the NCJAA to take stock of why we are here and honour the crucial work of such an undervalued and often side-lined sector.
As we’ve said before, the arts in the criminal justice sector can often wrongly be considered a side gig, a nice extra, a frontline service’s fluffy sister, crafty and lovely. But we are so much more than this, the evidence is clear, the data is tight – we are impactful, powerful, and present, we get the right people to notice us and create meaningful action on our behalf.
We sustainably support people – we co-create, co-design and co-produce futures and we are here to stay. Our NCJAA evidence library is consistently providing useful analysis of our vital work. We hope to build on this deliberately over the next year, if research is something you’re interested in sharing with us please get in touch.
Clinks’ State of the sector research 2022, made in collaboration with the NCVO highlighted key urgencies for the arts in the criminal justice voluntary sector. Arts organisations told us that;
- Arts organisations continue to highlight that they are supporting an increased number of people with greater more complex and more urgent needs.
- Cost of living has added an increased critical pressure to arts organisation’s operating costs.
- Members stressed the importance of long-term unrestricted grant funding to provide more sustainable finances and allow organisations to build their capacity.
- They are seeing an increased demand for services.
- The loss of specialist staff was seen as a greater threat to sustainability than finances.
- Challenges to filling vacancies with skilled and experienced staff are likely to be further exacerbated as the sector attempts to keep up with inflation.
- Larger caseloads have become a seriously concerning feature with 46% of staff taking on larger caseloads. Tthis has significant potential implications for service quality and sustainability as well as staff welfare and retention.
We at the NCJAA have been proud to offer a series of events over the past months as a way of strengthening connections within the sector. We take our role representing a network of over 900 individuals and organisations very seriously. Our members deliver creative interventions to support people in prison, on probation and in the community, with impressive results. And bringing this membership base together is vital for achieving our vision.
The first in our series of affirming events was the Anne Peaker Lecture 2023.
The important issues raised through State of the Sector 2022 , the
NCJAA network and the NCJAA’s Inspiring Futures project influenced the curation of our most recent in person event;, NCJAA presents Inspire: Sustainability in the Arts and Criminal Justice.
Inspire, was a series of panels, workshops and performances centred around the theme of sustainability, and importantly, how we turn inspiration into action.
Co-Chaired by NCJAA board members Lady Unchained and Sarah Hartley on the topic of ‘how do we retain the value of the arts in criminal justice’. Attendees were invited to gather for a day of performances, workshops, panel debate and networking. Star of the show was host Peaches, whose energetic, creative and personal style of hosting really matched the tone that our team wanted to bring to the days event.
Peaches navigated us through a day that included panels on sustainability of arts in criminal justice from financial sustainability, workforce sustainability, digital sustainability and how to better influence and use public policy.
Thank you to everyone who tweeted their support of the event; ‘brilliant’, ‘amazing moments’, ‘a great day of sharing and learning’.
With art situated at the core, we wanted to thank Jasmine Shanice for her fast sketched illustrations of the day, taking momento snapshots of the events energy.
We would like to gratefully thank the involvement and support of The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England whose belief in the inspiring futures project, the work of the NCJAA and this event was crucial in enabling the sector to come together and be celebrated throughout the week at Rich Mix.
The Inspiring Futures exhibition was visited by Inspire attendees and the public throughout the week of March 20-26 and we’re delighted to have captured the magic of the Inspiring Futures immersive gallery experience available online here.
Thanks again to our Inspiring Futures partners; Helix Arts, Clean Break, Good Vibrations, Geese Theatre, The Irene Taylor Trust, Open Clasp, Only Connect, University of Cambridge and Koestler Arts.
We would also love to thank Owain Astles for his committed production of the event, Rich Mix for being the perfect venue and Demi Ruffell for supporting us throughout the week, Louise Mackey for her bright photography and Alex Wylie for his brilliant video of Inspire.
As the year develops the NCJAA will continue to address the themes and issues raised though these events, starting with our NCJAA Arts in Criminal Justice Forums.
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