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Scoping arts in criminal justice across Buckinghamshire

Scoping arts in criminal justice across Buckinghamshire

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 Rothschild Foundation’s further investment in this area.

The NCJAA’s project findings, insights and recommendations are captured in a new report: Scoping models of good practice, fostering collaborative working and driving sustainable models of delivery for arts in criminal justice across Buckinghamshire.

The report draws evidence from the NCJAA Evidence Library and national arts datasets, together with insights from nine months of Buckinghamshire-specific research and stakeholder engagement activity, including focus groups, interviews and surveys involving prison staff, prison residents and arts organisations across the region.

Through these activities, we found that while there is arts in criminal justice expertise in the area, we also saw that there is potential for a larger scale, more systemic and joined up network of best practice in arts in criminal justice across the county. As the report says, there is:

  • Opportunity to develop best practice arts in criminal justice in Buckinghamshire
  • Need for arts in criminal justice training and professional development
  • Need for sustainable new models of collaboration and capacity to co-ordinate these models
  • Need for more creative activity in prisons in Buckinghamshire.

Alongside these findings, the report identifies priority themes and principles of good practice that stakeholders agreed were important for successful arts activity in Buckinghamshire.

Building on learning from the NCJAA’s What does success look like for arts in criminal justice settings? publication, we used these findings and priorities to inform a set of recommendations to the Rothschild Foundation for future investment in arts in criminal justice in the region.

Over the past year, the Rothschild Foundation has greatly valued the NCJAA’s experience and expertise of arts activity in prisons. Using the findings in this report we will sharpen our focus on how best to use our resource to make positive change through creativity.” – Leona Forsyth, Grants Manager at the Rothschild Foundation

It has always taken commitment, innovative thinking and resilience to deliver high quality creative activities in criminal justice settings. Covid-19 has made that challenge even greater. When we began this project, we never imagined the context in which we would publish this report – one where a pandemic has pushed the arts and cultural sectors into crisis, and people in prisons into extended periods of isolation, many spending 23 hours a day in their cells with little or no activity. Yet we have also seen an incredible response to the crisis, both in the enormous demand for in-cell arts activities and resources from prison staff and residents across the country, and in the arts in criminal justice sector’s efforts to adapt and deliver in such challenging circumstances.

As we look ahead, long-term support for sustainable models of delivery for quality arts in criminal justice has never been more needed. We are grateful to the Rothschild Foundation for their ongoing commitment to this work.

Read the full report here


About the Rothschild Foundation

The Rothschild Foundation continues the philanthropic tradition of the Rothschild family and their longstanding support of the arts, heritage, environment and social welfare. Based at Waddesdon Manor, the Foundation operates grant programmes for the benefit of Buckinghamshire and beyond. Collaboration is an important element of the Foundation’s work, and it engages with a wide variety of partners to develop activity for the benefit of its local community. The Rothschild Foundation continues its commitment to initiatives in criminal justice settings which support rehabilitation and desistance from crime.

Image credit: Elijah Thompson