Citizens Theatre Inspires Change with Innovative New Project
The Citizens Theatre is to deliver two arts projects in Scottish Prisons this year, one of which will be the case study for landmark research, as part of the Inspiring Change project. Funded by the Scottish Arts Council’s ‘Inspiring Communities Fund’, the Citizens Theatre and six other partnership arts organisations, led by Motherwell College, will take music, drama and the visual arts into Scottish prisons, promoting positive change in the lives of the inmates.
The two projects will take place in HMP Greenock and HMP Barlinnie. As well as performing, writing and singing the prisoners will take on production and technical roles, providing opportunities to learn new skills. At the end of both projects, the participants will perform their final pieces in front of other inmates and staff at the prisons, as well as their family, friends and specially invited guests.
The project is a unique collaboration and the first of this scale in Scotland. Although there has been research into the impact of the arts on prisoners elsewhere, including England and the United States, to date there has been no such research conducted in Scotland. Through this collaboration the partnership organisations allow the widest range of arts to be assessed for their impact in areas such as re-offending, literacy and numeracy, across a range of ages and genders.
Independent academics from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Strathclyde will produce a report evaluating the impact of the arts interventions in reducing re-offending and encouraging engagement with learning. As the only project working with women, the Greenock project will be the case study for the evaluation research – the first of its kind in Scotland.
In March the first of the projects, A Woman’s Place, will involve fifteen prisoners from the female wing in HMP Greenock, and will use storytelling, textiles and song to explore the role of women in society. The project will be managed and directed by experienced prison arts practitioner Elly Goodman and Kate Black of the Citizens Theatre, alongside a creative team including singer/songwriter Carol Laula, designer Rachel Mimiec, writer Lynda Radley and costume designer Lynda Gray.
In the autumn, fifty inmates at HMP Barlinnie will participate in a project inspired by the idea of change, Platform 2:10. The production will have music at its core, allowing the team to utilise already well established music groups from within the prison. It will explore the choices a prisoner faces on liberation and the many paths that lie before them. This project will be directed by Elly Goodman and Community Drama Director, Neil Packham from the Citizens Theatre. The team will be completed with a music director, designer, costume designer and production team.
Scotland’s prison population is rising and many offenders are reconvicted within two years. Many prisoners have had a negative experience of formal education and it is believed that projects such as these, with a different approach to education, can provide new routes into learning. In addition, the project demands a level of personal reflection that encourages prisoners to consider the impact of their crime on victims and others.
Director and manager of both projects, Elly Goodman said, ‘I’m very excited by the level of creativity that can be achieved in challenging and difficult environments, such as prisons. For some, life in prison is a complex and isolating experience therefore an outlet to express themselves is essential. Drama binds groups of people together and creates a unity, a shared experience and a positive pathway through the creative process.’
The Citizens Theatre is firmly rooted in its local community and places a special emphasis on work with children, young people and socially excluded adults. We believe in placing arts, culture and creativity at the heart of learning. The theatre’s association with offenders is longstanding, particularly with HMP Barlinnie, originating in the 1970s when then Artistic Director Giles Havergal and Company actors worked with inmates of the Special Unit once a week, over a period of several years.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Inspiring Change project is a unique and pioneering partnership between several of Scotland’s outstanding centres of artistic excellence - National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, National Youth Choir of Scotland, Citizens Theatre and Traverse Theatre. The project is led by Motherwell College.
2. Inspiring Change is funded through the Scottish Arts Council’s Inspiring Communities Fund and received £300,000 from the total £2.5 million of National Lottery Funding to encourage participation in arts activities throughout communities. The Citizens Theatre received £65,000 for its two projects and has also contributed match funding.
3. The research team is composed of four researchers from Edinburgh University, one from Glasgow University and one from Strathclyde University and come from academic backgrounds in Literature / Drama, Music, Social Work, Education/Literacy, and Criminology.
4. Director and Manager of the projects, Elly Goodman, has extensive experience of working with offenders, vulnerable young people at risk and those on supervision orders. She has worked in residential homeless units, as well as with those suffering from chronic addiction or in recovery from addiction. In particular, she has worked in a number of offender institutes including HMP Cornton Vale and HMP Young Offenders Institutes at Polmont and Longriggend. Elly has also work-shopped at the Illinois Correction Facility, Chicago and visited Warrenville Correction facility for young women, sharing practice with peers.
5. The Citizens Theatre provides extensive learning opportunities within the community including its Community Company, made up of around thirty permanent members aged from 22 to 80, from all walks of life; the Community Company Choir, a collaborative project with Bridging the Gap (a local Asylum Seeker/Refugee Support Organisation); and projects with the Intensive Monitoring and Support Service (ISMS) - an alternative to remand which takes a multi-agency approach to working with young people under the age of eighteen while they remain in the community.
HMP Greenock: A WOMAN’S PLACE
4 March – 16 April 2010
Directed by Elly Goodman and Kate Black
Singer/Songwriter Carol Laula Packham
Designed by Rachel Mimiec
Writer Lynda Radley
Costume Designer Lynda Gray.
HMP Barlinnie: PLATFORM 2:10
27 September – 19 November 2010
Directed by Elly Goodman & Neil Packham.