IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

Join Donate

Get News Updates:
  • Print
  • Email author
  • Bookmark and Share

Scotland: 'Inspiring Change' through arts in prisons

2nd March 2011

Inspiring Change is a co-ordinated programme of arts interventions that ran in five Scottish prisons throughout 2010 (HMP Barlinnie, HMP Greenock, HM YOI Polmont, HMP Shotts and the HMP Open Estate). 

"Arts interventions can play a valuable role in encouraging reflectiveness, cooperativeness and a hopeful orientation towards future challenges."

This exploration of the potential for coordinated arts interventions in prisons was funded by Creative Scotland, and involved a partnership between Motherwell College and Learning Centre staff located in prison establishments, the Scottish Prison Service, and participating arts organisations. Creative Scotland has committed to continuing to support and fund this work in Scottish prisons over the next three years.

"For reluctant learners and those with negative experiences of formal education, arts interventions can build a bridge towards the acquisition of new skills and a positive engagement with learning."

Inspiring Change aimed to:

  • stimulate prisoners’ engagement with learning
  • improve literacy skills
  • demonstrate the potential of the arts to support the process of rehabilitation
  • engage 200 prisoners in high quality arts programmes
  • evaluate the impact of engagement in these programmes on prisoners’ attitudes and behaviours as well as their ability to learn
  • positively link prisoners with their families and communities through art

The final report will be published end March 2011. However, initial reports have found that the activities were experienced as "overwhelmingly positive and affirmative by prisoners, prison staff and arts practitioners."

Initial outcomes include:

  • Changing negative attitudes to education
  • Building an active learning culture
  • Enabling people to work to their strengths in collaboration with their peers.
  • Increasing confidence & self-esteem
  • Positive impacts on: choices and chances; maturation; social bonds; family; work and training; identity

Read more: