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

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 agency for arts and culture and sets out its approach to advocacy and investment over the next 10 years. The strategy is designed to achieve Arts Council England’s vision of a “country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences.”

Jessica Plant, Director of the NCJAA, said:

We hope that significant recognition of the criminal justice system under “cultural communities” will ensure the benefits of creative activity are felt by people in prison and probation settings. We also hope that this work will bring these settings to the attention of wider communities, changing public perceptions about what people in the criminal justice system can achieve and enhancing arts and culture for all.

The strategy emphasises outcomes for people and communities throughout, and we very much welcome the acknowledgment that creative activity supports mental health and wellbeing and helps to build and strengthen social ties.

Arts Council England will publish its first Delivery Plan in Spring 2020, which will detail how it intends to deliver the strategy for the first three years. The recommendations made by Clinks and NCJAA included a commitment to partnerships in criminal justice settings to build on the expertise of the NCJAA network, and a specific focus in the delivery plan “on children and young people in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system as a group who deserve fair and equal access to arts and culture.”

Jessica Plant added:

Arts Council England has long supported innovative work in the criminal justice sector. In addition to funding a range of projects, approaches and organisations over a number of years, in 2019, it worked with the NCJAA on its Ban the Box campaign and the year before, published Arts and culture in health and wellbeing and in the criminal justice system: A summary of evidence. Last week, NCJAA Development Officer, Rebbecca Hemmings, visited HMP Thorn Cross alongside a team of Arts Council England health and criminal justice staff champions.

We are delighted to see this level of commitment from Arts Council England to understand the challenges of delivering arts in criminal justice settings on the ground, and look forward to working with them to bring the new strategy to life over the next 10 years.


Read the final strategy here [PDF download]

Read our recommendations here [PDF download]


Image: NCJAA conference 2019. Courtesy of Elijah Thompson.