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Inspiring Futures


Our research questions relate to Impact, Participation, Evidence and Dissemination:

  1. What are the effects of arts programmes in the criminal justice sector?
  2. How can these be measured in a way that is participatory and inclusive and which is accessible, meaningful and empowering to the participants and builds research capacity amongst arts organisations?
  3. How can these effects be collated to establish a collective evidence base for impact which can be further developed and sustained by arts organisations in the future?
  4. How can the evidence of arts impact be disseminated to policy makers and the wider public in order to facilitate a transformation of approaches and attitudes towards people in the criminal justice system?

A primary motivation of the research is to move beyond the ‘toolkit’ approach of many current initiatives which lead to ‘excessive simplifications of artistic impact’ (Belfiore and Bennett, 2010) and to base arts evaluation on a fully developed theory of arts impact in criminal justice. The evaluation will aim to capture the personal, social, organisational, economic and creative impact of the arts for:

  1. Different groups:
    • Participants
    • Their families and friends
    • Arts instructors and leaders
    • Criminal justice workers
    • The public
  2. Organisations
    • Arts organisation
    • Criminal justice host organisations
  3. Sectors
    • Arts sector
    • Criminal justice sector

It will collect evidence of impact in the short- and longer-term in prison and through-the-gate into the community. This includes longitudinal study of participants in prison-based projects who we are able to contact when released, and ongoing study of participants in through-the-gate and community-based projects who work with ex-prisoners or people on community sentences.



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