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Arts Practice with Young People within Criminal Justice Systems

31st August 2023

A forum called Cross-Cultural Arts Practice: Working with Young People within Criminal Justice Systems has been organised by Northumbria University, in partnership with the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) and Clinks, which represents members of the voluntary sector working with people within the criminal justice system.

The forum will take place at the University on Thursday 14 September and provides opportunities for those with an interest in social, racial and criminal justice and delivering creative arts projects to disadvantaged young people to meet others working in the field, and to share examples of good practice. Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuiness will provide the keynote address.

Northumbria University’s Assistant Professor in Creative Writing Dr Laura Fish and Assistant Professor in Dance and Performance Liz Pavey will share the findings of their project The Stolen Generations (2018 - 2020).

The Stolen Generations offered young people (aged 11 to 18) at the Aycliffe Secure Centre, County Durham, opportunities to engage in dance, creative writing, and visual art workshops; these were informed by Indigenous Australian cultures and dance practice.

In June and July of this year, Laura and Liz offered two further days of creative arts workshops, one at Aycliffe Secure Centre and one at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin, Australia. Their presentation offers insights into the similarities and differences between these contrasting youth detention centres on either side of the world.

Aycliffe Secure Centre is rated as 'Outstanding for Children's Health and Good in all other areas' by Ofsted. The highly controversial Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, built over 30 years ago as a maximum-security prison for adults, was found to be ‘wholly inappropriate’ for children by the 2017 Royal Commission. At Don Dale over 90% of the children are Indigenous Australians while Indigenous people make up 3.2% of Australia’s population.  

The Stolen Generations project feeds into The Other Side of Me, a dance production inspired by the story of an Aboriginal man - one of the Stolen Generations - who was taken from his family in Australia and brought up in England. The dance production is part of the wider research project, When Words Fail Us, Expressing the Unspeakable: The Other Side of Me: 

The forum includes a presentation by North East-based Helix Arts.

Cross-Cultural Arts Practice: Working with Young People within Criminal Justice Systems is on Thursday 14 September 2023, from 13:30 to 16:30, in the Great Hall, Sutherland Building, Northumbria University. The event is free, and all are welcome. Find out more and book here.

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