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Commission an Art Project

Commissioning projects in criminal justice settings

In 2016 we wrote Arts, Culture and Innovation in Criminal Justice Settings, to provide practical information and ideas for those wishing to commission artists and arts organisations. Read the guide here

Why should I commission a project? 

The arts have a long tradition of engaging and inspiring individuals to think about their lives and consider their future differently. We are committed to helping commissioners based in prisons and community settings understand and identify how the arts can meet relevant outcomes and objectives.

For example, the Justice Data Lab’s Re-Offending Analysis for one of our members, Prisoners’ Education Trust, showed that reoffending rates dropped by up to 14% when prisoners had access to grants for art and hobby materials. Overall, the analysis showed that participating in an intervention provided by the Prisoners’ Education Trust led to a reduction in re-offending of between 5 and 8 percentage points. More on the findings.

We provide guidance for our members on how to collect evidence to support offender outcomes – such as re-offending rates and employability – demonstrating value for money. Our members demonstrate how the arts can support learning and health and wellbeing, so that the impact of the commissioned intervention can be effectively measured.

One small but important part of the ‘total experience of imprisonment’ is the arts activities available in prisons… The arts are a lifeline from despair for some prisoners, a gateway to improvement for others and an antidote to both tedium and tension for many.”

Nick Hardwick, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales, Annual Report 2013 – 14

As a commissioner, how can I utilise the Evidence Library?

Established in 2012, the Evidence Library houses key research and evaluation documents on the impact of arts-based projects, programmes and interventions within the Criminal Justice System.

Commissioners can use the Evidence Library to

  • search for recognised and independently evaluated arts organisations
  • find evaluated arts-based interventions in specific settings or places
  • discover evidence that clearly connects the arts to securing better outcomes for offenders and ex-offenders.

How do I commission a member?

Our membership list is made up of practitioners and organisations running arts interventions in the Criminal Justice System. Use the search function to narrow down results based on location, art form, services and setting. For bespoke advice, please contact Jessica Plant, the Alliance Manager.

*We are not responsible for monitoring the practice of any members of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance and cannot take responsibility for the quality of their work.