Big 'A' Prison Arts Leadership Award recognises pioneering work

21 July 2011

Artist, prison art tutor and mentor Sharon Hall has received the Big 'A' Prison Arts Leadership Award 2011 for her outstanding contribution in supporting the rehabilitation of prisoners through the arts.

Sharon was presented this year’s award by the 2009 recipient, Mark Lynds, at the Big ‘A’ Awards ceremony held in the Banquet Hall of Parliament on 20 July.

Restricted Programme Co-ordinator at the Learning Connexion, Sharon pioneered the development, growth and success of an art programme that now involves more than 80 students in prisons throughout New Zealand.

Former recipient Mark Lynds presented the Big 'A' Prison Arts Leadership Award 2011 to Sharon HallSharon’s role includes co-ordinating a small but dedicated prison programme team, preparing lessons for tutors teaching in the prisons, and editing the programme to meet Corrections’ guidelines.

She makes regular visits to prisons to teach classes and mentor students, as well as organising graduation ceremonies, co-ordinating student exhibitions and an annual Corrections Christmas card project, and supporting released prisoners to complete their studies. 

The five-member judging panel said that all the nominees in the Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Leadership Award 2011 have made outstanding contributions in passing on their artistic knowledge and skills to prisoners.

Colin Ryder, Department of Corrections, views the prison artwork on display “This nomination had the wow factor! It demonstrated an infectious passion, and articulated clearly Sharon’s achievements and the impact of her work with prisoners undertaking study through The Learning Connexion. The opportunity to gain qualifications, participate in exhibitions and receive ongoing mentoring can make a real difference to the lives of these artist prisoners.”

The tangible results of Sharon’s efforts are the number of students graduating with the NZQA Certificate of Art and Creativity, says Alice Wilson Milne, Director of The Learning Connexion.

“The retention of students under this programme is very high, in part due to Sharon’s dedication and focused, unstinting support. She is helping to build resilience in each student.”

big a prison arts leadership award recognises pioneering work


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