Unlocking talent at HMP Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Sep 24, 2018 12:42 PM |
PhD candidate Kate Herrity discusses how the arts can benefit prisons

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk 

Over two weeks in November 2017, HMP Leicester hosted an arts festival; Talent Unlocked. A unique event, conceived by Ralph Lubkowski and organised by Simon Bland with contributions from a number of artists, community and education workers, supported by the governor Phil Novis.

In the run up to the fortnight, artists performed at various points around the prison in pop up events. Talent Unlocked was a diverse programme including a voice over skills workshop, creative writing, poetry appreciation, screen printing, music-making and performance. 

This paper draws from observations, surveys and interviews with prisoners and staff participants to consider the utility of this event for the prison community. Much work focuses on the benefits of the arts for prisoners in achieving educational goals.

We use this as a point of departure for considering the wider prison. The concept of civic skills provides a lens for considering the utility of Talent Unlocked in fostering responsibility, relationships and cooperation within the prison community. We move on to consider the benefits for prisoners, as a means of improving wellbeing, offering some respite from prison life and as a gateway for broadening participation in education.

We conclude with some reflections on how to build on the success of HMP Leicester’s experience.


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