What is your experience in the arts and criminal justice field?
I have worked in arts and criminal justice for over 24 years, this began by specialising in making Theatre with young people in residential care and those at risk of offending.
I subsequently went onto develop theatre projects and performances in prisons in Scotland, Northern Ireland and USA. Initially I focussed on working in remand centres and then with females prisoners for a number of years.
The Citizens Theatre ( for whom I now work for ) was part of an Arts Initiative called Inspiring Change in 2010, this was led by Motherwell College in partnership with 5 National Scottish Arts Companies. Our work enabled us to spend significant time in HMP Greenock and HMP Barlinnie creating large scale Theatre work and leaving a positive legacy in both establishments.
The Citizens Theatre currently runs a Theatre residency in HMP Barlinnie Prison that offers year round creative programme to male prisoners. The programme offers confidence building through Drama workshops, Creative writing, Spoken word performance, Design and scenic painting, Playwriting and Theatre performance.
Internationally, I have collaborated twice with Storycatchers Theatre based in Chicago USA, who focus is on making theatre with juvenile offenders in detention centre’s.
I continue to work extensively in communities affected by crime and through care with ex- offenders alongside emergency respite care for women who are homeless.
I have attended , spoken and led workshops at many conferences, including the European Prison Education Association, The Prison Arts Foundation, Prison Arts Network, Moveable Barres to name but a few.
What are your aims for the Scottish Prison Arts Network SCIO?
Having met a number of key people at Prison Arts conferences and events, it seemed obvious that artists working in Scottish Prisons would benefit from being part of a network.
SPAN acts as a voice for artists and organisations working in Prisons. I believe it is an important forum for artists to share their work, offer support, and to raise the profile of Prison art in Scotland.
A lot of good work has been accomplished since SPAN’s inception and there is much more to achieve over the next year. We hope that more artistic work will take place in secure settings and will continue to ensure that further creative opportunities are made available to people upon liberation.
What is your role aside from being a trustee for SPAN?
I work for the Citizens Theatre in the Learning department as a Community Drama Artist. I have been making Theatre and working on creative projects with a large range of Community and Educational groups for 24 years in Scotland. I have worked internationally, collaborating with groups in Sweden, Chicago Rotterdam and Canada .
My work with the Citizens Learning team has enabled me to lead workshops and make Theatre with asylum seekers and refugees, adults with addictions and in recovery, mental health groups, homeless organisations, University students, School pupils and prisoners.
I have Co- directed the award winning production of ‘Divided City’ a play that tackles issues of sectarianism, discrimination and prejudice . The large scale secondary school pupil casts premiered the show at the Citizens Theatre.
I am on the Arts and Culture steering group for the Scottish Refugee Council.
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