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Inspiring Futures


The research will be mixed method, longitudinal, and both qualitative and quantitative. It involves researching the work of seven partner organisations providing different arts programmes in various areas of the criminal justice system.


Participative Approach

We will use a participative approach, including the voices of those with lived experience of the criminal justice system and those with professional experience of the arts in criminal justice at every step of the way. This includes in preparing the research instruments – we will hold focus group discussions with partner organisations and their (ex)participants before beginning the evaluation stage; the focus groups will discuss the substantive impact of specific projects and the best ways to collect evidence of this impact.


Primary Evaluation Activity

The primary evaluation activity focuses on the impact for the individuals participating in the arts programmes, combining two elements – a before-after study, and a process study.

The before-after study will measure personal change and development over time, from the beginning of a programme to up to a year after they finish. It will involve questionnaires and the use of control groups.

The process study will enable close description and analysis of the programmes, to better explore and understand mechanisms of impact and unexpected outcomes. This will include participant-observations of the programmes in action, as well as interviews and focus groups with participants, arts practitioners and HMPPS staff. 


Secondary Evaluation Activity

The aim of the secondary evaluation activity is to understand the impact of arts programmes beyond the individual participants. This includes the impact for their family and friends, and the impact on the personal and professional lives of programme leaders and co-ordinators. It will further use audience impact studies to gauge the impact on members of the public who come to showcasing events and performances.


App Development

In order to facilitate data collection, and to add to the sustainability of the research, the research team will collaborate with professional consultants to develop an app. The app will be an easy and accessible means for participants in community settings to record their experiences of and responses to the programme and ongoing outcomes. It will combine survey-type questions with opportunities for open responses via text, oral recordings, video and photography. Find out more about the app here.


Inspiring Futures is a 3-year research project investigating the impact and meaning of arts projects in the criminal justice system. It is an independent research project, embedded into the Inspiring Futures programme run by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, investigating the work of a number of arts partner organisations. It is funded by the ESRC.

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Phone/text: 07707 288282