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NCJAA Bursary Scheme 2022

Applications are now open for grants of up to £500 to support arts practitioners working in criminal justice settings to access training and development opportunities.

Liz and David’s mentoring story

Whilst applications come in for the 2022 scheme, we talked to mentor Liz, a theatre practitioner, and her mentee David, a prison officer, about what they got out of the scheme.

Clinks Annual Report 2020/21

Supporting, promoting and representing arts organisations in 2020-21

New film: life after punishment

A new film by the University of Plymouth features interviews with over 120 people about their experience of the criminal justice system.

2021 Koestler Awards: winners announced

The 2021 Koestler Awards celebrate arts, music and writing from criminal justice settings.

State of the sector survey 2021: share your experiences

If you’re involved in arts in criminal justice, tell us how you’ve been over the past year so we can represent your experiences with key decision makers.

Exploring new music genres on YouTube and prison TV

The Irene Taylor Trust’s ‘Playlists’ project, all about discovering new music, is now on YouTube and in prisons via Way Out TV

Prison security clearance lapses: are you affected?

If you have not been into a prison in the last 12 months, be sure to check whether your security clearance is still valid.

Voices from prison: e-book and short film from Clean Break

A new e-book from Clean Break features creative writing pieces by women from prisons across England and Wales.

Nominations open: CJA Awards & CJA Media Awards

The CJA Awards celebrate the outstanding individuals and organisations helping to make the criminal justice system fairer.

Reopening for everyone: guidelines from Arts Council England

Arts Council England has issued guidelines on how arts organisations can continue to operate in a safe and accessible way.

Meet our new NCJAA Manager

We’re thrilled to announce that Janette Kilner has joined the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance as the new NCJAA Manager to lead our team into the future.

Clinks CEO Anne Fox is on compassionate leave

The thoughts of the Clinks team are with Anne Fox, Clinks’ Chief Executive Officer who is currently on compassionate leave after a family bereavement.

Creativity in a restricted regime: a guide for prison staff

Our new guide for prison staff on enabling creative activity in a restricted regime through Covid-19 and beyond is now available to read.

Humane Justice: new book explores role of kindness in criminal justice

A new book funded by the Monument Trust and compiled by Khulisa explores the role of kindness in the criminal justice system and is now available to order and read online. Humane Justice – What role do kindness, hope and compassion play in the criminal justice system? is a collection of essays and creative responses [...]

New report shows Covid-19’s impact on voluntary sector in criminal justice

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound and severe impact on arts organisations and practitioners working in the criminal justice system. The challenges of the pandemic are compounded by the closed nature of prisons and slower pace of recovery compared to the wider community. However, these services have never been more needed. Clinks' research report [...]

Highlights from the Anne Peaker Lecture 2020

“What you realise by writing and creating original works is that the power of the imagination is bigger than any setting that any of us can find ourselves in.” - Lemn Sissay at the 2020 Anne Peaker lecture The eleventh Anne Peaker lecture honoured the work and legacy of Anne Peaker, a pioneer of arts [...]

Scoping arts in criminal justice across Buckinghamshire

In October 2019, the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) embarked on a year-long local practice development project to scope arts in criminal justice settings in Buckinghamshire. Funded by the Rothschild Foundation, the project’s long-term aim is to inform sustainable models of delivery for quality arts in criminal justice across Buckinghamshire, and to support the […]

Goodbye to NCJAA Director & Chair, welcome to our new co-Chairs!

After five years, NCJAA Chair Dr Alison Frater is moving on to become the new Chair of Clean Break. Alison’s leadership has brought new audiences and enhanced the NCJAA in many ways and her integrity and commitment to creativity and social justice will be hard to replace. Also, after nearly nine years, Jessica Plant, the [...]

Highlights from NCJAA annual meeting 2020

On 23rd June, the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) hosted 79 delegates at our annual meeting. We asked: “How can the arts in criminal justice challenge race inequality, survive and thrive through Covid-19 and beyond?” We were joined by Simon Marshall, Deputy Director – Rehabilitation and Support Services Group, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation […]

Six new members join the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance steering group

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of the following new members to the NCJAA steering group: Brenda Birungi, poet and founder of Unchained Poetry; Jamal Khan, writer and poet; Jennifer Walmsley, co-founder of BearFace Theatre; Ralph Lubkowski, Governor, HMP Hewell; Sarah Hartley, National Lead for Families, Novus; and Simon Ruding, Director, TiPP. We […]

Letter to Dr Jo Farrar – Race and ethnicity; a critical moment

Voluntary organisations led by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people have set out five areas for action that HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) must take in order to address the challenges of BAME-led organisations in the criminal justice system. The paper recommends that HMPPS introduce appropriate safeguarding measures to protect BAME staff and service […]

Voting in the NCJAA Steering Group Election 2020/21 is now open

This year, there are six spaces available on the Steering Group and 19 candidates standing. Please help us choose new members of the Steering Group by following the link below, reading the candidates’ statements and voting for your six preferred candidates. The Steering Group members are vital representatives of the NCJAA network. They meet a […]

Covid-19 response grants

Support for small-medium voluntary organisations working in criminal justice during the pandemic Voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system with annual income under £500,000, including arts organisations, can apply now for grant funding to support their vital work during Covid-19. The pandemic has had a profound effect on voluntary organisations, the vast majority of […]

What’s the impact of Covid-19 on arts in criminal justice?

Please complete our short survey so we can help policy makers understand the impact of Covid-19 on arts in criminal justice. We need to hear from you if you’re a voluntary organisation or a practitioner who delivers arts in criminal justice settings. Our aim is to ensure people in the criminal justice system are still […]

Watch Open Clasp’s award-winning prison drama online for free

As theatres around the world are forced to close their doors, experience Open Clasp Theatre Company‘s award-winning Key Change for free online. The prison drama goes live at 1pm on 20th March 2020 and you can watch it here – just click play on the link above. In these uncertain times, it’s more important than […]

Supporting arts in criminal justice through COVID-19

Please note the information contained in this post may no longer be up to date. Clinks and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance are working to support the voluntary sector and people delivering arts activity in the criminal justice system through the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Access to prisons The impact of regime restrictions brought […]

Clinks and NCJAA operations during Covid-19 delay phase

Following the UK government announcement to move to the delay phase in its plan for tackling Covid-19 all Clinks and National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) staff are now temporarily working remotely. We will continue to support, promote and represent the voluntary sector and the NCJAA network while working in this way. We feel this […]

Tell us what you think and win £50

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance 2019-2020 annual survey is now open. It is vital we hear from as many of you as possible. This is a chance for you to share the important work you do and to let us know how we can support it. Your responses will be used to shape our […]

Criminal justice system recognised as key partner in Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy

Arts Council England has published its strategy for 2020-30. Clinks and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) are delighted that, following their recommendations, it identifies the criminal justice system as a key community partner for delivering its long term goals. Titled Let’s Create, the strategy determines Arts Council England’s role as a national development […]

Experience National Justice Museum exhibition as a virtual tour

A National Justice Museum exhibition of women in prison is now available to experience as a virtual tour. The exhibition includes a collection of historic photographs of women living and working in prisons. These photographs, on display for the first time, were taken in several UK prisons from 140 years ago to the 1980s. Stitched […]

Sandwell becomes first Youth Offending Service to receive Artsmark Award

Sandwell Youth Offending Service (YOS) has become the first YOS in the country to be awarded a prestigious Artsmark Award. Staff at Sandwell YOS have spent the last 12 months dramatically improving its use of arts and culture to work more creatively with young people involved with its service. The Artsmark Award – the only creative […]

Clinks CEO Anne Fox’s response to Friday’s incident at London Bridge

Anne Fox, Clinks CEO: “We are saddened by the loss of life at the Learning Together event last Friday – by the loss of passion, belief in the potential in everyone and in the power of working together to help people change which these two young people clearly demonstrated and lived by. Our thoughts are […]

Art by women on probation

Changing Lives has completed an eight-week arts programme with women on probation orders from nine hubs across Northumbria. Run in partnership with Tyne and Wear Archive Museums and Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Free but not Free was developed after it became clear to the charity that many […]

Watch Rattle Snake

Open Clasp Theatre Company‘s Rattle Snake is a play based on real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive controlling domestic abuse. It was originally developed as part of a training programme for frontline police officers in Durham, and last year toured the UK. You can watch it here from 25th November […]

Our impact over the last three years

Clinks has published its Impact assessment 2019, a report on an external assessment of its impact – which includes the work of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) – from 2016 to 2019. It set out to review: Whether Clinks is providing the range of services and activities that stakeholders want and need What […]

Listen to our new podcast

We’ve launched an exciting new podcast featuring a selection of views from our recently released Crime and Consequence book, answering the question: what should happen to people who commit criminal offences? Each episode focuses on a particular area of the criminal justice system, drawing on the author’s lived or professional experience. Episodes include: What should happen […]

Crime and Consequence

We’re delighted to announce the launch of Crime & Consequence – what should happen to people who commit criminal offences? This is the third in the series of books curated by the Monument Fellowship and edited this year by Clinks and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA). Crime & Consequence is a collection of essays and […]

Announcing our new Buckinghamshire project

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) has begun a 12-month local practice development project to scope arts in criminal justice settings in the Buckinghamshire region. Funded by the Rothschild Foundation, the project will explore models of good practice and foster collaborative working in order to support the Foundation’s further investment in this area. Our […]

Prison education commissioning update for sole traders

The Ministry of Justice’s Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) has updated its terms to make it easier for sole traders to join the system and bid for education contracts. The DPS was launched in November 2018 and is specifically designed to enable prison governors to secure specialist or one-off education provision to meet short-term needs. The […]

Local prison collaborates on new mural for Ipswich

A mural created at a local prison has been installed on Ipswich Waterfront for Art Eat Festival. Supported by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s (NCJAA) professional mentoring scheme, the project’s producer delivered nine design workshops with residents at a local prison and the artist EVEWRIGHT to produce the finished piece. The NCJAA afforded me […]

Government responds to DCMS Select Committee

The government has responded to a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the social impact of participation in culture and sport. Clinks and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) provided evidence to the committee, whose final report recommended that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media […]

New recording studio to support people upon release

Prison-based record label InHouse Records has been awarded a £90,000 loan from Nesta‘s Cultural Impact Development Fund. The loan will extend its services from behind bars to ongoing support for people upon release. The loan will enable a new hub, in the form of a pop-up and recording studio, to serve as a safe space for graduates of […]

Art at HMP Grendon – Ikon’s new artist in residence

Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery has announced Dean Kelland as its artist in residence for the next three years at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire. Kelland is Ikon’s third artist’s residency at HMP Grendon, following Edmund Clark‘s residency from 2014 to 2019. Kelland will continue to support artistic practice for the prison community alongside developing his own work. In […]

Music and mentoring at HMP Drake Hall

For the last two years Changing Tunes Midlands (CTM) has been bringing musicians-in-residence into prisons across their region. Based on a model using a therapeutic approach to teaching music and mentoring developed over 30 years of experience from Changing Tunes in Bristol, CTM has migrated this service to the Midlands. The charity now has musicians-in-residence […]

Sharing real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive control

This winter, to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a new play tackling coercive controlling domestic abuse will be screened, for free, online and in venues across the UK . Watch the trailer About the play Developed by Open Clasp Theatre Company, Rattle Snake is based on real life […]

What prisoners need to make the best use of time in prison

Over 1,250 prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families have contributed to a new report titled What do you need to make the best use of your time in prison? Published by the Prisoner Policy Network, the report highlights prisoner experiences of life behind the wall and positive ways to move forward. It argues that prisons need to […]

Encouraging family bonds through storytelling

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival has been awarded funding from Arts Council England to develop its transformative Bedtime Stories project in prisons. The project, which builds literacy skills and encourages important family bonds through storytelling, will be rolled out in another five schools and 12 prisons across England, reaching a further 1,000 families. The Festival organises author-led […]

Arts Council England’s final draft 10-year strategy recognises the criminal justice system

Have your say on Arts Council England’s strategy for the next 10 years here (closes 23rd September 2019) See our response to the previous round of the consultation here (PDF) Arts Council England (ACE) has published its final draft 10-year strategy document, setting out its vision and outcomes it wants to see along with new […]

Positive action to recruit people with criminal records

Download the briefing here (PDF) The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, alongside Arts Council England, the Ministry of Justice and the charity Unlock, is asking arts, media and cultural organisations to review their recruitment approaches and take positive action to develop opportunities for people with experience of the criminal justice system. Our message to employers […]

Cell Furniture: new designs for safety, wellbeing and sustainability

Final year students from Central Saint Martins’ product design course are developing experimental prison cell furniture designs. The designs aim to generate a range that is not only robust and sustainable, but also helps to create a decent environment for prisoners and prison staff. The Cell Furniture project comes from the Design Against Crime Research Centre […]

New guidance for working in criminal justice settings

Our new guide, Enhancing arts and culture in the criminal justice system: A partnership approach, is now available to download and read. The publication outlines the complex nature of the criminal justice system and the value of arts and culture in these settings. It includes step-by-step guidance and principles of best practice – putting individuals […]

Creating change through theatre with women on probation

Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) has been awarded £20,000 from the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Communities Fund for the pioneering arts intervention programme, Creating Change, now in its third year of operation. Developed by HCT, alongside BearFace Theatre and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company, Creating Change uses drama to encourage women […]

Justice Secretary announces new model for probation

The Secretary of State for Justice, Rt Hon. David Gauke MP, has set out his blueprint for the future of probation, which brings all offender management under the public National Probation Service (NPS) when the current contracts with private providers come to an end in 2021. Overall, the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and Clinks […]

Government committee recommends review of arts in criminal justice

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance is pleased to see the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the social impact of participation in culture and sport recognise the important role of arts organisations in supporting people on their desistance journey. The final report, Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and […]

Call-out for artists to welcome Knife Angel sculpture to Birmingham

Birmingham will be the latest city to host the Knife Angel as it continues its UK tour. Made from over 100,000 discarded knives and confiscated weapons from 43 police forces around the country, the 26-foot sculpture aims to show the impact knife crime has on people’s lives and bring the issue to society’s consciousness. The […]

Shared reading for people leaving prison

National reading charity, The Reader, is working with Suffolk Libraries to launch a new kind of Shared Reading community in Suffolk. Through reading aloud together, the charity hopes to transform rehabilitation for local people leaving prison, improve their wellbeing and build a community. Funded by Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), the year-long ‘through the […]

Requirements for prison education and library services

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published a Policy Framework that details the minimum mandatory requirements that governors and prison staff must adhere to in the provision of education and library services in adult prisons in England. We are pleased to see that the framework recognises a prison library must: promote reading as a source […]

Ensuring the voluntary sector’s role in the future of probation model

Since the Ministry of Justice announced its decision to end current probation contracts early and consider a new model for probation from 2020 onwards, Clinks has been working to ensure that learning from its trackTR research is utilised and the voluntary sector has a central place in the future model. In a blog published today, […]

Developing a toolkit to measure intermediate outcomes of arts interventions

We are pleased to see the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published research from the development of a toolkit to measure the outcomes of arts and mentoring interventions for people in the criminal justice system. Written by Mike Maguire, Emma Disley, Mark Liddle, and Rosie Meek with Nina Burrowes, the research focuses on the ‘intermediate […]

Koestler Trust on BBC Radio 4

Prison arts charity, the Koestler Trust, is taking part in BBC Radio 4‘s upcoming charity appeal. This Sunday, tune in to hear the story of John, a former Koestler Awards entrant and mentee who made the journey from a young offenders institution to the Venice Biennale. Support the Koestler Trust! The support that Koestler has given me […]

Music programme helps young people get back on track after prison

The charity HDMT Music is set to publish findings from its music and resettlement project, One Spirit, which has reached 177 young people from three prisons over the past 12 months. One Spirit is now in its tenth year of work across HMYOI Feltham, HMYOI Cookham Wood and HMP Highdown. The project uses a framework of […]

New guide to evidencing arts and culture

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) has published The Cultural Learning Evidence Champion’s Handbook. This handbook is designed to make it easier not only to ‘do’ evidence and evaluation, but to love them, to become a champion for them and spread the good word throughout arts and cultural education.” […]

Writer reflects on making work with ‘real’ people

Luke Barnes, writer of The Jumper Factory (Young Vic theatre, 27th February – 9th March, tickets) – a new play developed in collaboration with men from HMP Wandsworth – has written an article for Exeunt Magazine titled Making work with ‘real’ people. In it, he reflects on how to ask “a group of people from a background […]

Our recommendations for Arts Council England’s next 10 year strategy

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) has published its response to Arts Council England’s consultation on its next 10 year strategy. We welcome and support many of Arts Council England’s proposed outcomes, especially those which demonstrate a shift in emphasis towards equality and inclusion. In the document we respond to each of the seven proposed […]

Take part in our annual survey

It is vital we hear from as many National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) members as possible in our 2019 annual survey so we can provide the best network for artists, arts organisations and criminal justice practitioners delivering innovative work across the country. The annual survey is your chance to tell us about the important […]

Finding rhythms, making change

Last week Finding Rhythms showcased its recent activity inside and outside prison, and shared its ambitions for the future, in an evening event at Premier PR‘s London office. The charity has been running intensive 36-hour music projects in prisons led by professional musicians for the past seven years. With recording technology participants are able to […]

François Matarasso publishes book on participatory and community art

Community art worker, researcher and writer François Matarasso has published A Restless Art: How participation won, and why it matters. The book draws on four decades of Matarasso’s work making, observing, accompanying and researching participatory art in more than 40 countries. It covers the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and Geese Theatre Company in a chapter titled “The […]

Update on new prison education contracts

Francesca Cooney, Head of Policy at Prisoners’ Education Trust and National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance steering group member, has provided a useful update on the new prison education contracts in a blog for Criminal Justice Alliance. The new contracts will allow governors to commission education services both through a core Prison Education Framework (PEF) contract, and directly – […]

Culture can help to offer second chances, says Jeremy Wright MP

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today recognised the value of arts in prisons in a speech announcing the winners of the Cultural Development Fund. Speaking on the ‘Value of Culture’ at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Jeremy Wright MP evidenced the impact the arts can have on development and wellbeing, and celebrated […]

Drawing connects HMP Springhill and local college

Drawing Connections is a project bringing together residents at HMP Springhill with students from the local Banbury and Bicester College Art Faculty in a series of artist-led workshops held at HMP Springhill. As a result of its pilot year, an art room was established on the prison site. For its second edition, the Drawing Connections project took […]

New book covers a decade of theatre in criminal justice settings

Newly published Playing for Time Theatre Company – Perspectives from the Prison offers readers a resource for using theatre in criminal justice contexts, exploring ideas of identity, community, social justice and the power of the arts. Edited by Annie McKean and Kate Massey-Chase, the book analyses and reflects upon Playing for Time Theatre Company’s evolution and […]

2019 Koestler Awards open for entries

The 2019 Koestler Awards – for artwork made by people in prison, in other secure units, or on probation – are now open for entries. Hard copies of the guidance notes, entry forms and under 18’s entry forms have been sent out to institutions. Entries are judged by over 100 artists and experts from different fields […]

The House of Lords discuss arts in criminal justice

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s Re-imagining Futures report was this week referred to by crossbench peer Baroness Bull at the House of Lords debate on how sport, recreation, and the arts contribute to wellbeing of society. She said, “I do not pretend that the arts are a panacea for all of society’s ills, and […]

Contribute to new Monument Fellowship book

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and Clinks are curating responses to the question “What should happen to people who commit criminal offences?” We are part of a collective of organisations, the Monument Fellowship, each funded through the legacy grants of the Monument Trust, which has now closed. In addition to each organisation doing what […]

12 days of drama, history and food

Prison arts specialist Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) has published a report of Past Time, a food and theatre project delivered at HMP Hewell in partnership with historians from the University of Warwick. The report offers an insight in to some of the outcomes from the drama-based workshops, food training and history sessions that brought the experience […]

How The Comedy School teach children about knife crime

The Comedy School‘s Keith Palmer has explained how It’s No Joke! teaches 10 and 11 year olds about knives – and why the comedy show and following Q&A with the actors resonates with the children so effectively the danger of carrying a knife. When the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance spoke to The Comedy School in […]

NCJAA recognised in parliament

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee held a session yesterday on the social impact of participation in culture and sport. Five ministers from across government attended as witnesses, including Edward Argar MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice and Michael Ellis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and […]

Cross government support for arts sector giving people with criminal records a second chance

Click here to read the full press release (pdf) The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) is delighted that senior government ministers, along with Arts Council England and major arts and culture organisations, are set to lead the way in supporting people with criminal records gain skills and find employment. The Secretary of State for […]

Book charity wins Longford Prize

A charity that has been purchasing educational books for prisoners since 1996, Haven Distribution, has won The Longford Trust‘s 2018 Prize. At last night’s sold-out Longford Lecture, Why do people stop doing crime?, the panel chose the low-profile work of the organisation as they wanted Haven Distribution to be publicly applauded for sending books into prison. The charity […]

Arts Council England publish evidence review

Arts Council England (ACE) today published Arts and culture in health and wellbeing and in the criminal justice system: A summary of evidence – the final piece of research conducted as part of its evidence review for the next ten-year strategy 2020-30. Co-authored by Richard Ings and John McMahon, the summary of evidence cites nearly 200 academic […]

Have your say on Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy

Click here to read the NCJAA’s response to the consultation The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) is asking its members to have their say on Arts Council England’s (ACE) upcoming strategy for 2020-2030, and shape where creative work in criminal justice settings fits in to its 10-year vision. We welcome ACE’s increased support for our sector, and believe this […]

Our key messages

Our new flyer Why do arts in criminal justice matter? outlines the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s key messages and strategy for what we would like to see happen in the criminal justice system. The short flyer uses key evidence, quotes and images to advocate the importance of the work of our network in a simple and effective […]

Prison education system launched

The Ministry of Justice’s ongoing selection stage of the Prison Education Dynamic Purchasing System (PEDPS) has been launched meaning providers can once again apply to participate. It is specifically designed to enable governors to secure specialist or one-off education provision to meet short-term needs and help create and grown relationships with local employers and educators […]

20 years of supporting voluntary organisations in criminal justice settings

2018 marks the 20th year that Clinks has supported voluntary organisations working with people in the criminal justice system. For its 20th birthday and AGM, Clinks held a celebratory event featuring performances from InHouse Records followed by messages from staff (old and new), members, supporters and new chair Roma Hooper. The event also marked the launch of its new […]

Theatre for care leavers

The Big House is a theatre company and charity that works with care leavers and other young people who are at a high risk of social exclusion. It provides a platform for them to participate in the making of theatre and to have their voices heard. Following the government’s launch of the Care Leaver Covenant last week […]

New book from the Monument Fellowship published

We are pleased to announce the Monument Fellowship, of which the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) is a part, has released its latest book today. Curing violence: How we can become a less violent society, published by The Centre for Justice Innovation, is a collection of essays that seek to not only describe the problem […]

Professorial lecture on arts and criminal justice

University of Wolverhampton’s Professor Laura Caulfield’s inaugural lecture on arts in the criminal justice system is now available to watch online. “Where I am now, I didn’t imagine I could be”: Creative approaches to rehabilitation in the criminal justice system is a useful resource for students, academics, practitioners and anyone interested in the role of arts […]

BBC feature on creative writing in prisons

Carlo Gebler has spent nearly three decades working in the Northern Ireland prison system as a teacher of creative writing. Produced by Conor Garrett for BBC Northern Ireland, BBC Radio 3’s latest Sunday Feature explores if prison arts and education made any difference to the lives of those Carlo taught. The author and teacher meets inmates attending […]

Clean Break announce 40th anniversary spring season

2019 opens with Clean Break’s first season under new Artistic Directors, Anna Herrmann and Róisín McBrinn – featuring new plays, performances and projects created by artists, high profile partners and collaborators, and Clean Break Members. Forty years ago, two incredible women in prison set up Clean Break, believing theatre could bring the hidden stories of […]

Theatre production at HMYOI Polmont

Glas(s) Performance (UK producers of award-winning young people’s company Junction 25) has worked with young men in HMYOI Polmont to create an original theatre piece titled Motion, which explores questions of identity and inheritance and what it means to be a young man in contemporary Scotland today. The Sunday Post’s Megan McEachern visited the prison to see the […]

Stretch Digital report

Stretch Charity is characterised by an innovative arts and storytelling agenda that has proven successful in prisons and community projects for over a decade. Stretch has prepared a detailed report of Stretch Digital, a lottery funded project that saw Stretch deliver its work in five prisons and across the community over three years. The report includes a […]

Prisoner Learning Alliance awards

On 13 September, the Prisoner Learning Alliance (PLA) held its fourth annual awards for staff and mentors making a difference in prison education. This year the PLA received a record 1,300 nominations from people in prison, over three times more than in 2017. Winners included librarians, gardeners, art tutors and peer mentors. One winner was Lesley Bennetts, an […]

Beating Time joins One Day One Choir

Beating Time’s singing group at HMP Maidstone, The Maidstone Jammers, was delighted to take part in this year’s One Day One Choir initiative – a global choral project in support of the UN World Peace Day, 21st September. The programme included a special song of peace and reconciliation, “Closer”, written by one of the group […]

Bursaries awarded

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance is pleased to announce we have successfully awarded seven small bursaries to help emerging artists with a lived experience of the criminal justice system develop their career and artistic practice. Many thanks to all those who applied, the field was incredibly strong and the panel enjoyed reading how inspiring […]

Special arts edition of Prison Service Journal

The latest issue of the HM Prison Service’s peer review journal is a special edition that focuses on The Arts in Prison. Edited by Dr Michael Fiddler and National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance steering group member Alli Black, the 239th edition of the Prison Service Journal contains 10 articles and evaluations that show “a partial snapshot […]

What does success look like for arts in criminal justice settings?

Written following a series of roundtable discussions commissioned by Arts Council England in 2017, and attended by leading voices in arts and criminal justice, What does success look like for arts in criminal justice? highlights the main themes that came out of these roundtables and outlines learning points and opportunities for development. It concludes with key […]

Voices from the row exhibition

During July 2018, Voices from the Row, an exhibition of poetry and artwork by prisoners incarcerated on death row San Quentin, was held at the Poetry Café in London. It was well visited - and went some way to prove that art and poetry can transcend prison walls. The art, poetry and recordings that were on show are [...]

Launch of Prisoner Policy Network

The Prisoner Policy Network is a new, free to join, network of prisoners, ex-prisoners and supporting organisations. Hosted by the Prison Reform Trust, it will make sure prisoners’ experiences are part of prison policy development nationally. The network will be a collective voice from a prisoner viewpoint in the policy world. It will support prisoners to […]

Government call for evidence on supporting former prisoners to find employment

The Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice have put out a Call for Evidence asking for case studies from public, private and voluntary sector employers and organisations which support former prisoners to find employment. Through the consultation they want to improve their understanding of inclusive recruitment practices, employability initiatives, and evidence and impact. Consultation closes at 5pm on 31 August […]

Government consultation on probation services

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last week announced an eight-week public consultation on the future of probation. Clinks and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) welcome this announcement. Clinks’ TrackTR research on the voluntary sector’s engagement in Transforming Rehabilitation shows that the voluntary sector is under represented, under pressure and under resourced and calls for […]

New resource shares children’s experiences of their dads going to prison

A new pack of arts activities developed by Nepacs and Helix Arts, Hidden Voices, has been released today. The resource, co-produced with artists, children whose dads are in custody, and men in prison whose children are back home, will help fathers in prisons reflect on the impact of their offending on their children at home. Children in […]

More good vibes

Good Vibrations is campaigning to bring ‘more good vibes’ to its past participants. The communal music making charity, which supports people in challenging circumstances with additional needs, has developed a Beyond Performance project for people who have taken part in a Good Vibrations course and want to further develop their skills as musicians. The Beyond Performance course runs from 10th – 14th September […]

Arts Council England pledge to support arts in criminal justice

Arts Council England has recognised the importance of arts in criminal justice in their latest strategic plan. Published last week, their two-year Corporate Plan sets out their high-level priorities for delivering their 10-year strategy over the period 2018-20, and states: We will support and celebrate the contribution creative practitioners and cultural organisations make across vital areas of public policy, […]

New film makes the case for arts in criminal justice

We are pleased to announce the release of our new film Why do arts in criminal justice matter? Using interviews filmed during our 2017 Annual Conference at the National Theatre, the film features responses from sector leaders and supporters, and shares inspirational accounts of our members’ work; making a compelling case for arts in criminal justice. What access to the […]

Longford Trust scholars exhibit in 250th RA Summer Exhibition

Two recipients of The Longford Trust scholarship have been selected to exhibit their work in the 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which opened to the public today. The Longford Trust awards scholarships to young serving and ex-prisoners to go to university to continue their rehabilitation. Both Paul Grady and Lee Cutter have been supported by […]

Clean Break announce new leadership team

The award-winning theatre company Clean Break has announced a new leadership team to take the company into its fifth decade of work with women in the criminal justice system. Founded in 1979 by two women prisoners who believed that theatre could bring the hidden stories of the imprisoned women to a wider audience, Clean Break produce […]

Justice Secretary says “there is a role for the arts”

The Justice Secretary, David Gauke MP, has recognised the role and impact of the arts in criminal justice as he sets out his position on a prison service “close to breaking point”. In an interview with The Times, Mr Gauke spoke about having “a culture of rehabilitation” and wants to “encourage drama, writing and painting in prisons.” He goes on to say: […]

Welcome Erika Flowers

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Erika Flowers to the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) Steering Group. Erika has a lived experience of the Criminal Justice System and experience of the arts within this, from both a beneficial point of view and in participatory capacity in the form of her voluntary and contractual […]

New national alliance for Culture, Health and Wellbeing launches today

We are pleased to announce that the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance are one of the founding strategic members of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance. This new alliance brings together the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing with the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing and involves 50 leading cultural organisations from across England. It […]

Koestler announce venues for ‘100 Years On’

To commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage, the Koestler Trust is producing an art trail of Koestler Award-winning artworks by today’s women prisoners. The idea is simple but powerful: to exhibit 100 framed paintings, drawings, sculptures and poems by women in prison in important venues and public buildings throughout the UK. The trail will shine […]

New Year Honour for our vice-chair Andy Watson

We are very pleased to share that the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance vice-chair, Andy Watson, has received an MBE for services to the Arts in the Criminal Justice System in the New Year’s Honours list 2018. Andy is the Artistic Director and CEO of Geese Theatre Company. Having trained in Paris at the Lecoq International School […]

New book: Life Beyond Crime

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and Clinks are among 60 contributors to ‘Life Beyond Crime’, a new book put together by The Monument Fellowship, convened by The Monument Trust. The book, published by Lemos&Crane, draws together through prose, poems and pictures the assembled first-hand experience and wisdom of scores of contributors responding to the […]

Key Change

Open Clasp are launching Key Change by Catrina McHugh MBE (Carol Tambor, Best of Edinburgh Award, 2015, New York Times Critics Pick, 2016) on the 25th November, to mark the UN campaign International Day to End Violence Against Women & Girls and running for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign until the […]

Statement on the Lammy Review

This statement is from the Arts Alliance parent, Clinks. David Lammy’s review shines a light on key points in the system which produce unequal outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people and makes clear recommendations for addressing these. NCJAA and Clinks is committed to making sure that the voluntary sector plays a vital […]

Chief Inspector of Prisons highlights prison safety in annual report

The main conclusion of Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, in his annual report is that “prison reform will not succeed unless the violence and prevalence of drugs in jail are addressed and prisoners and unlocked for more of the working day.” The report, published on 18th July, is based on 86 individual inspection reports […]

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) has released its new Expectations

Following the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s response to a consultation on the provision in men’s prisons, we are pleased to see our recommendations appear in the form of a new expectation that prisoners can access creative activities which promote learning, wellbeing and support rehabilitation. The HMIP’s expectations are the documents which set out the […]

Creative Health: the arts for health and wellbeing

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) was formed in 2014 and aims to improve awareness of the benefits that the arts can bring to health and wellbeing. During 2015-17, the APPGAHW conducted an Inquiry into practice and research in the arts in health and social care, with a view to […]

Clinks’ State of the Sector report

Every year Clinks surveys voluntary sector organisations to collect information about how healthy the sector is, the role it is playing, and the wellbeing of service users. This year’s report explores how voluntary organisations working in criminal justice are faring. It found that during political change, voluntary organisations remain resilient and innovative but the safety […]

Nelson Trust Gloucester Women’s Centre: art exhibition

Katie McCue, art tutor, coordinator and curator of an exhibition at the Nelson Trust’s Gloucester Women’s Centre, talks about the recent exhibition and the impact that making art can have on people’s lives: “Making art is not just a nice thing to do. Yes it’s a great way to just be in the moment, to […]

National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance has received funding offer to become part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio

We are very pleased to announce that the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance has been received a funding offer to become one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Sector Support Organisations from 2018-2022. The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s vision is to promote access to arts and creative opportunities as a springboard to positive change […]

NCJAA welcomes new Vice-Chair

The National Criminal Justice Alliance is very pleased to announce the appointment of its new Vice-Chair. Andy Watson, Artistic Director of Geese Theatre Company will take over from Katy Haigh, Director of Good Vibrations. We would very much like to thank Katy for her hard work as our Vice-Chair – we are incredibly grateful for […]

The Chris Johnston Memorial Fund

Background    Chris Johnston was a co-founder and co-director of Rideout between 1999 and 2017. He was a passionate exponent of theatre and social justice, with a particular interest in the development of programmes within, and about, criminal justice. Furthermore he was a pioneer in the development of longer-form drama improvisation strategies to help communities explore […]

Pride versus Prejudice: Video

Michael Brome is a prison officer at HMP Leicester with 13 years service. In this time he has worked in several areas and teams dealing with very challenging situations and individuals. Michael is also a spoken word artist, represented by literature organisation Renaissance One, a mentor, and a workshop facilitator. He has performed widely – […]

Call out for photographs to accompany film by Good Vibrations

Malcolm Milner, Training and Development Manager at Good Vibrations, is looking for images from arts and criminal justice projects to accompany a piece of Gamelan music in a video about the benefits of the arts in criminal justice settings. The music he is using is a compilation of approximately 750 men and women in different prisons […]

Recognising Helen Pringle’s contribution to the field of arts and criminal justice

Clean Break is very sad to announce the death of its longstanding employee Helen Pringle, Head of Finance and Senior Producer, who passed away peacefully on 14th May following a long period of living with cancer. Helen joined Clean Break in September 2001, having had several years’ experience of working as a stage and production […]

What do prisoners and ex-prisoners need to learn?

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance is part of the Monument Trust’s Fellowship – a group of organisations brought together by the Monument Trust to collaborate on each stage of the journey an offender experiences in the criminal justice system, from arrest, through prosecution and sentencing in court, in prisons and Young Offender Institutes, and […]

Unlock Drama: Theatre in Prison training day

Unlock Drama are offering a Theatre in Prison training day (date TBC). The training will take place in Milton Keynes, and will practically explore how to deal with varied scenarios within a prison setting. The training will also be tailor made, as each delegate will be asked exactly what they want to get out of […]

Grants for voluntary organisations working with prisoners and ex-offenders

The Noel Buxton Trust offers small grants of up to £4,000 for three years to support work with prisoners and ex-offenders. The kinds of activities they fund include peer support and mentoring, rebuilding connections with friends and family, skill-based activities, and activities that help rehabilitate offenders and reduce stigma in communities. They tend to offer […]

Youth Music is actively seeking applicants for their Youth Justice funding stream

Youth Music provides funding for music-making projects in England for children and young people up to the age of 25. Youth Justice is one of their priority areas and they are actively seeking more applications to work with children and young people in the criminal justice system or who are at risk of offending. Youth […]

Submit a research or evaluation report for inclusion in our Evidence Library

We are looking for new research and evaluation reports on the impact of arts in criminal justice settings to publish in our Evidence Library. The Evidence Library is an online library housing the key research and evaluation documents on the impact of arts-based projects, programmes and interventions within the criminal justice system. The Library currently […]

Updated prisons map

The Ministry of Justice has published an up to date map showing the location of all the prisons in England and Wales. The map is colour coded to highlight which prisons are specifically for young people and women, and which prisons are high security. It also includes information on which prisons are Foreign National Prisons [...]

Fine Cell Work opens new hub for ex-offenders

Fine Cell Work, the charity which trains and pays prisoners to do fine needlework in their cells for commercial sale, is planning to open a London-based crafts training studio for ex-offenders. The workshop will be called the Fine Works Hub and will offer work experience, accredited employment training and one to one mentoring to participants. […]

Justice Secretary launches new prison and probation service to reform offenders

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) will replace the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). HMPPS will have full responsibility for the operational management of offenders in custody and the community, including strengthening security in prisons, tackling extremism and building intelligence about criminal gangs. Supported to recruit an extra 2,500 officers, the new service will […]

Safe Ground Fathers Inside programme participants are 40% less likely to re-offend

Arts charity Safe Ground has received its latest Justice Data Lab report, which for the first time includes an analysis of their Fathers Inside programme. The report highlights the significant impact of Fathers Inside. Only 24% of men who took the programme re-offended within a year of release, compared to 40% of their counterparts who […]

Ways of living: unlocking young people’s potential

For three weeks in August 2016, funded by the Foyle Foundation and managed by engage Cymru in partnership with Unitas, six young people at Hillside Secure Unit and eight people at Bridgend Parc Prison YOI were engaged in intensive artist led Summer Arts Colleges. Literacy, numeracy, digital and research skills were innovatively woven into a […]

Orchestras for everyone: symposium summary

On 23rd November 2016, Orchestras Live held a symposium to examine the barriers that face people when accessing and engaging in high quality orchestral performances. In her summary of the day, Orchestras Live’s CEO Sarah Derbyshire notes that “there was collective agreement that more concrete collaboration and joint action across those represented in the room […]

Storify: Anne Peaker lecture 2016

If you couldn’t make it to this year’s Anne Peaker lecture on 7th December, we’ve Storified the Tweets from the night. The event focused on the use of film and photography in criminal justice settings, and featured a key note lecture from artist and photographer Edmund Clark. The lecture was followed by an interesting and […]

NCJAA Annual Member Survey 2016

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA)’s annual member survey gathers information from arts and criminal justice organisations to assess whether the work we are undertaking fits what is needed by you, our members, and the wider sector. Please take 10 minutes to answer questions on various aspects of your organisation and your work, and […]

The Gulbenkian Inquiry into the civic role of arts organisations

On 8th December 2016, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock gave a speech on the importance of philanthropic support for the arts as part of the Gulbenkian Inquiry into the civic role of arts organisations. The Inquiry seeks to increase awareness of the civic role that arts organisations play nationally and […]

Makeright: A range of anti-theft bags that make a difference to society

A new range of ‘conscious fashion’ bags, offering a form of crime prevention, were launched on 24th November. The first range of Makeright bags has been designed by inmates from HMP Thameside in South London which is managed by Serco. The all-male prison was supported by staff from the Design Against Crime Research Centre at […]

Clean Break have been awarded the 2016 Longford Prize for their collaboration with the Donmar Warehouse and York St John’s University

We are delighted to share the news that the 2016 Longford Prize has been awarded jointly to Unlock and the Shakespeare Trilogy Project. The Shakespeare Trilogy Project comprises of the Donmar Warehouse, Clean Break and York St John’s University, with the winners being awarded for work carried out over the last four years in women’s prisons and as […]

Brighton Dome’s Miss Represented has been awarded a Big Lottery Fund grant

Miss Represented is a multi-disciplinary arts collective working with young women facing challenging life situations and has become a lifeline to its members. Achievements include collaborating with award-winning rapper Plan B, appearing on BBC Radio 1xtra, a cross art theatre show investigating forgiveness and friendship, a retrospective exhibition celebrating International Women’s Day and sell-out performances […]

Call out for submissions for a new book on how people with learning disabilities experience the Criminal Justice System

Following the book and national exhibition ‘Great Interactions’, which captured images and stories of people with learning disabilities and autism in educational and care settings, award-winning photographer Polly Braden and policy expert Rashmi Becker are producing a new book and national educational exhibition looking at how people with learning disabilities experience the Criminal Justice System. […]

Working together to improve criminal justice

The Monument Trust‘s long-held objective has been to keep young people out of prison, and to ensure that those who offend and are sent to prison never go back. The Trust has now brought together a group of organisations to collaborate as a Fellowship for several years on each stage of the journey an offender […]

Arts, culture and innovation in criminal justice settings: a guide for commissioners

Written by Andy Parkinson from Consilium Research and Consultancy on behalf of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, this guide provides those with responsibility for supporting the education, health, wellbeing and reintegration to society of individuals within the Criminal Justice System with clear information on the valuable role arts can play in supporting these objectives. […]

Recruit! website launched by Unlock

Recruit! is a new website that supports UK employers to recruit people with convictions and helps them to deal with criminal records fairly. It’s managed by unlock as part of a charity-funded project. Unlock is a charity that works to achieve a fair and inclusive society where people with convictions can move on positive in […]

HM Inspectorate of Prisons Annual Report 2015-16

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales has published the Annual Report for 2015-16. The report shows that prisons have not improved and in some key areas have become even worse. On a national level, while various aspects of the problem are being addressed through criminalising possession of NPS and the better use of testing and detention technologies, there is as yet no overall national strategy for dealing with the problem.

Branding and marketing opportunity for artists with experience of the Criminal Justice System

Tap Social Movement is a start-up craft brewery established to provide training and employment opportunities to people who have had contact with the Criminal Justice System. In addition to offering work experience, training and long term employment opportunities in their own brewery, they are working with other breweries to identify openings and make successful matches UK-wide in this growing industry.

Funding for creative projects in Wales

The Creative Wales Awards will provide grants of up to £20,000 to support an intensive period of open-ended learning and research around significant artistic propositions in Wales. The Awards are available to individual arts practitioners for creative development projects, including taking time away from usual commitments to concentrate on a specific project.

Image courtesy of Good Vibrations