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Highlights from NCJAA annual meeting 2020

Highlights from NCJAA annual meeting 2020



On 23rd June, the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) hosted 79 delegates at our annual meeting. We asked: “How can the arts in criminal justice challenge race inequality, survive and thrive through Covid-19 and beyond?”

We were joined by Simon Marshall, Deputy Director – Rehabilitation and Support Services Group, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and Mags Patten, Executive Director Public Policy and Communication for Arts Council England to discuss the easing of lockdown in the criminal justice and arts and culture sectors.

Jess Plant, Director of NCJAA, presented highlights from the past year, before we broke into smaller groups to discuss how arts in criminal justice can respond to race inequality with action, and how our network can survive and thrive through Covid-19 and beyond. The discussion was informative, stimulating and will continue on through future NCJAA events.

Anna Hermann, Joint Artistic Director at Clean Break also spoke about the organisation’s work to support its members during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The image above is an illustration drawn during the meeting (thank you Rowan @VisualMinutes), which highlights key themes from the event.

Thank you also to Mr Gee, for ending the meeting with a performance of this fantastic, gripping poem written during the event:

Journey of Re-emergence

If you Constrain me with a feeling,
Isolate me with compassion,
And Hold me with contempt,
What do you think will happen?

If you Lock me out with blind conscience,
Way Down in lost existence,
Then say you can’t see colour,
Within this kaleidoscopic prism?

As Distance dictates engagements,
We Socialise with bleak syntax,
That which once was,
May be no more,
But that which will be,
Remains intact,

For Art speaks to all the people,
It always has,
It always will,
It’s the language of the unheard,
The unknown, the unfulfilled,

If you took a snapshot of this zoom,
The first person you look for is you,
And if you can’t see anything resembling yourself,
You might just want to leave this conference room,

Covid-19 has brought its storm,
A whirlwind to the forewarned,
That if you don’t bring in folks armed with umbrellas,
You’ll always fear the rain that pours,

You’ll always fear the signs ignored,
You’ll always fear the rule-book torn,
Creative minds were made to heal,
And Recovery is the new dawn that calls us all,

So let’s constrain all our failings with a feeling,
Isolate our hesitance with compassion,
And if we hold our past silence with contempt,
Then come let’s see what happens,

Mr Gee

(@mrgeepoet)