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ESRC Seminar Series

ESRC Seminar Series

Enrichment Activities? Arts, creativity and spirituality in criminal justice systems

From November 2012 – March 2014 the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance supported a series of talks on arts, creativity and spirituality in criminal justice systems. These seminars were made possible by the Economic and Social Research Council knowledge exchange programme and the sessions were run by Dr Laura Caulfield,Charlotte Bilby and Rose Parkes

Session one – Practising enrichment

20th November 2012 – Birmingham City University, Centre for Applied Criminology

This seminar explored the recent political and rehabilitative histories of creativity in prisons; the role of the Third Sector in providing enrichment activities; the practice of delivering in challenging settings; the notion of prison communities and the impact of practice on prison staff and different types of regime in different countries.

As well as opportunities to network and a debate on the role of different art forms in criminal justice systems, the day included talks by:

Session two – Theorising enrichment

19th April 2013 – Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London

Ideas of desistance, motivation to change, social capital, the Good Lives Model, spirituality and faith, well-being and happiness were all considered during this session.  In broader societal, political and international contexts, where funding for arts, humanities and social science education is being cut, the speakers and discussion addressed the importance of mapping the theoretical understanding of enrichment activities on to practice.

Talks included:

Session three – Exhibiting and celebrating enrichment

15th November 2013 – BALTIC, Gateshead

This session considered how participants’ work is exhibited, performed, published and publicised.  It showcased successful strategies used by organisations in publicising work to the wider public with talks and workshops were delivered by:

Session four – Evaluating enrichment

Friday 21st February 2014 – The Curve, Leicester

All of the activities discussed in the previous sessions were delivered in an environment of value for money and evidence informed policy making and practice. This day not only drew together ideas of best practice learnt in the previous sessions, but also considered how we might be able to evaluate activities that do not always conform to traditional output and outcome models and where to look for funding streams. Talks were delivered by:

  • Angus McLewin, who gave an overview of research into arts in the Criminal Justice System – download the presentation here.
  • Ellie Cumbo, Policy Manager at Clinks
  • Jessica Harris from the NCVO 
  • Nicola Abrams and Georgina Eaton from the Justice Data Lab – download the presentation here.
  • Charlotte Bilby and Laura Caulfield explored current debates in social science research methodology
  • Jacqui Norton, of De Montfort University, looked at the challenges and benefits of longitudinal tracking when working with socially excluded young people and adults
  • John Speyer from Music in Detention
  • A panel discussion was also held with Jess Haskins (NOMS), Pat Walker (Manchester College), and Saul Hewish (Rideout)

All of the sessions were made possible by a seminar series grant from the Economic and Social Research Council.


Image courtesy of Prisoners’ Education Trust (c) Rebecca Radmore