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Professional development in arts and criminal justice settings

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) Professional Mentoring Scheme provides our network with opportunities to develop professional skills and knowledge in the field of arts and criminal justice through a one-to-one mentoring relationship.

The scheme matches new and emerging practitioners who want to learn more and develop their career in arts and criminal justice with experts working in the field. The mentors can provide a range of specialist guidance and support on using arts within the criminal justice system:

  • Professional guidance and ideas on career development – support and advice on the direction your career is taking
  • Networking opportunities – the chance to meet other professionals working in arts and criminal justice
  • Advice on training and professional development – support and advice around finding training opportunities and ways to develop your practice
  • Information on relevant events – find out about events and opportunities within the arts and criminal justice sector
  • Advice on running arts projects/programmes and organisations – support with specifics such as fundraising, evaluating and making the case for your arts project.

Former mentees have gone on to form their own arts organisation, secure funding for new projects and take up volunteering opportunities in prisons.

As part of this year’s scheme, NCJAA will also be offering a series of online masterclasses, covering everything from funding applications, to event management, to protecting your mental health and wellbeing. These sessions will be open to all mentors and mentees of the current scheme, as well as alumni of the programme.

How to apply

If you are interested in being mentored by an expert at the NCJAA, please complete the application form by 6pm GMT on the 14th August 2023.

If you are interested in volunteering as a NCJAA mentor, please complete an application form no later than 6pm on the 14th August 2023.

Alternatively, record a 2-5 minute video of why you want to apply and what work you have done so far in arts and criminal justice and send this to artsalliance@clinks.org by 6pm GMT on the 14th August 2023. For guidance on what to include in your video, please see the information pack above.

“My mentor has been amazing. They have a huge knowledge base and the match has been perfect. I feel very lucky to be part of this programme.”

“My mentor has given me plenty of ideas concerning funding. She also set me up with her colleagues for a more detailed discussion which included strategy and sources.”
Former mentees

Who can apply as a mentee

The mentoring scheme is open to individuals who are:

  • New and emerging practitioners who would like to know more about how to work in the field of arts and criminal justice (such as freelance artists and facilitators)
  • Anyone newly employed in the arts and criminal justice sector (for example a member of staff at an established organisation with less than a year’s experience in the sector)
  • People moving into the field of criminal justice from other community or participatory arts fields (for example health)

In order to become a mentee you must:

  • Already have some experience of delivering arts interventions with excluded groups.
  • Be at the early stages of your career in this area, but feel more support would be beneficial.
  • Be interested in setting up an organisation or programme of work or developing your skills and artistic practice through working with people with experience of the criminal justice system.
  • Show commitment and potential within the sector.
  • Be able to commit for up to six months mentoring and a minimum of five meetings or phone conversations. Please note that demand is high and mentees must consider how they will prioritise to allow time to commit to the scheme if selected.

You can read the criteria in more detail in the applicant information pack.

Who can apply as a mentor

“It is rewarding for me to meet and talk to someone with such energy and passion in what she does. I have wondered how to help her as she has huge experience already in so many areas. I continue to realise that being able to listen while someone ‘thinks outside their brain’ is very valuable.”

“It made me realise that these kinds of relationships are very important to have, we need to share and support as much as we can for the benefit of everyone.”
Former mentors

To be a mentor on the NCJAA’s professional mentoring scheme you must have a minimum of five years’ experience within arts in criminal justice (in some exceptional circumstances this may be lowered). You will have attended relevant mentoring training (either offered by NCJAA or elsewhere) and be able to demonstrate specific expertise, characteristics and skills.

Over a six-month period you will mentor an individual who wants to learn about arts and criminal justice to improve their knowledge, expertise and confidence to work in the sector and bring about good practice. The scheme is also reciprocal in nature, so there is an opportunity and an expectation for mentors to also learn and develop from the mentees and their practice/experience.

Please note: the role itself is voluntary and we cannot pay mentors for their time.

Image courtesy of Dance United archive