Networking about Arts in Corrections
28 August 2017
Sharing knowledge and resources, talking about creative possibilities and challenges, and collaborating on Arts in Corrections projects are among the aims of the Arts in Corrections Network facilitated by Arts Access Aotearoa.
The networks cover three regions and include Corrections staff and volunteers, Community Corrections staff, prisoners, artists and writers, academics, community arts organisations, and people in the wider community interested in arts and social justice.
The networks are:
At least once a year, Jacqui Moyes, Arts in Corrections Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa, facilitates a meeting in each region. To date in 2017, there have been meetings in Auckland and Wellington, as well as a three-day hui in Northland.
Jacqui says the network meetings are tailored to meet the different needs of each community. In Auckland, the meeting was hosted by the Critical Research Unit of Applied Theatre at The University of Auckland. It included a presentation by UK academic Dr Selina Busby about the role of theatre in prisons and probation services.
In contrast, the three-day hui at Northland Region Corrections Facility was focused on practical workshops and presentations about creative practice. You can read art tutor and participant Ann Byford's blog about the hui, called Collaboration and the power of great ideas.
With the networks well-established, Jacqui is calling for network members to make their names and contact details available for publication in the Arts in Corrections section of Arts Access Aotearoa’s website.
“Please visit the website and email me your name and contact details,” Jacqui says. “These lists will give members easy access to information-sharing, support and advice throughout the year – not just at one or two meetings a year.
“People working in Arts in Corrections can feel quite isolated and so the networks are a valuable way to connect, either face to face at meetings or via phones and emails.”
Network meeting held in prison
In April this year, a network meeting was held inside a prison – Northland Region Corrections Facility – for the first time. Prisoners participating in the facility’s arts programmes were also actively involved in the hui’s planning and presentations.
“This was hugely beneficial as participants could see a strong creative community in action,” Jacqui says. “It was amazing to see how engaged and motivated the men and the arts team at Northland were. It was an example of how good they arts can be in bringing people together and making meaningful connections.”
The hui included three workshops:
- a music workshop delivered by musician and teacher Jhan Lindsay
- a tape art workshop delivered by artist and art tutor Ann Byford
- a yoga and performing arts workshop delivered by Sarah Parker.
In addition, all the prisoners spoke about their work in the arts programme while the men in the Shakespeare Behind Bars programme performed devised work for the visitors.
Performing together in music workshop
In the full-day music workshop, 16 prisoners were selected to take part. They were able to perform together, learn new techniques and discuss topics such as song writing, stage presence, technical set-up and copyright.
Most of the men were preparing for the upcoming Battle of the Bands, an event help during New Zealand Music Month in May. Kathryn Ryan, presenter of RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme, interviewed three network members, including “Sanity”, a prisoner and band member who writes and composes original music.
Participants completed an evaluation form at the end of the hui. Among the overwhelmingly positive comments were:
- It made me feel like a normal person and not just a criminal.
- The engagement between staff, practitioners and prisoners was everything I hoped for and more! I hope to be able to facilitate more opportunities for staff and prisoner hui.
- After seeing what Jhan did in one day with the musicians, I see value of prisoners learning how to read, write and play music, and do breathing exercises.
- Music can be a window to your heart, mind and soul, and it is rehabilitative and relaxing.
- Thank you for this opportunity and the great advice and positive energy that has made a huge impact on my ability to make music and enhance myself as a human being.
- I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took their time to come to NRCF and pass on their knowledge. It was an amazing few days. I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the next one.
For more information about the Arts in Corrections Network and how to join, contact Jacqui Moyes, Arts in Corrections Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa (T: 04 802 4349 E: firstname.lastname@example.org)