Last November, our Artistic Director Sara Lee was busy attending two conferences across Europe (in Vienna and Glasgow) to share her knowledge and experience of arts education in the criminal justice system.
On 17th Novemeber, Sara spoke at the European Prison Education Association‘s Beyond Frontiers conference in Vienna. She told the conference about the Irene Taylor Trust’s work inside and outside of prisons, emphasized and the possibility of using music in prisons to improve health and wellbeing, raise aspirations, and ultimately reduce reoffending.
Sara shared her experience of the conference in their newsletter:
“The recent EPEA conference in Vienna was an interesting and stimulating experience. It was attended by over 150 people from across Europe and the US, and the presentations and workshops covered a wide range of topics including the use of the arts in prison, the benefits of learning via prison and university partnerships and the diverse ways you can employ prisoners when they are released. It is always useful to hear the perspectives of others and to be offered the opportunity to share effective practice and learn potential new ways of working was extremely beneficial.
On the first day of the conference, delegates were invited to select a prison to visit, to learn more about the Austrian system and how staff work with and support the people in their care. I visited Schwarzau, about an hour or so outside Vienna where they house both men and women. It was surprising to find out that there was only one teacher in the whole prison and that there are no outside delivery organisations coming in to supplement the curriculum. This is quite different to our experience in the UK where outside organisations and the interventions they provide are a regular and indeed integral part of the prison regime. It was enlightening to see the progressive way the prison works with mothers and babies/young children, taking each case on its own merits and having the child’s education and development as a focus.
There was plenty of time available to network with other delegates and some beneficial new partnerships were brokered. Effectively organised and imaginative events such as these are so useful to attend; it is wonderful to spend time with like-minded people who share the same passion about their work as you do and to be able to use their knowledge to help address issues, and to learn new techniques and approaches to support work in your own country.”
A week later, on 24th November, Sara visited Glasgow to present a key note speech at the Scottish Prison Arts Network‘s Annual Creative Symposium. She spoke about the ITT’s ‘through-the-gate’ programme Sounding Out, which was designed to support ex-prisoners to get their lives back on track following release, through a combination of live music performances and paid training placement.
You can find out more about Sounding Out in this short film below: