Imagine If

Training

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“imagine if ran a series of training sessions about delivering creative programmes in prison settings & with people who have convictions”

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as an artist in prisons? Ever had a great idea for a creative project but not known how to make it happen?

In 2021, imagine if held a series of training sessions all about delivering creative programmes in prison settings and with people who have convictions.

Each session was focused on a different aspect of creativity in criminal justice settings and participants could choose to mix and match sessions or to complete the whole series. 

100% of participants felt that the training was relevant and helpful in relation to their area of work or study
100% of participants would recommend this training to a friend or colleague 

imagine if was founded in 2015 to instigate real change in people’s lives through theatre. We work predominantly with prisoners and people with convictions who have a range of disadvantages including mental health issues, homelessness, low literacy levels and are from low socio-economic backgrounds. Over the last six years we have delivered a range of theatre tours and specialised arts interventions in 26 prisons across the UK and USA, have engaged with over 4,000 prisoners and we continue to support prisoners when they are released through the arts to help them live a crime free life. imagine if’s work internationally includes working in prisons in America with several companies, including with Tim Robbins and his company ‘The Actor’s Gang’ in Los Angeles.

 

The training was overseen by our Artistic Director Chesca and delivered by our Community Director Tamsin, who has worked with imagine if since 2017 to project manage and deliver our theatre interventions, tours and resettlement programmes in prisons and the community. Prior to this, Tamsin gained experience in prison theatre work internationally, working in Chilean prisons and youth detention centres in Santiago. Tamsin was joined by our Assistant Support Worker Mary, alongside participants of imagine if‘s programmes who provided lived experience perspectives on each training topic.

“I really enjoyed exploring how we could adapt activities/exercises and that reminder that really most exercises can be adapted. Also the importance of the context within which you’re working and how important that is when planning a session”  Criminal Justice Training Participant, 2021

CRIME AND CREATIVITY: GUIDING PRINCIPLES Thurs 29th April, 3pm-5pm

Perfect for artists and criminal justice practitioners, this session introduced participants to the principles and theories which guide arts work in the criminal justice system. The aim was that by the end of the session participants were able to understand and speak confidently about the value of creativity in criminal justice settings with reference to the key theories which underpin the work.

DEVISING AN ESCAPE: THEATRE MAKING IN PRISONS Thurs 13th May, 3pm-5pm

Perfect for artists of any discipline, this session gave an insight into the process of designing and delivering theatre and arts projects in prisons. By the end of the session, participants were able to confidently design and start to plan an arts project for a prison setting.

“The advice on ‘what doesn’t help’ and the top tips were really useful in giving me an idea of how best to engage and work effectively and compassionately with people in the criminal justice system, and the discussions about what did and didn’t work in past projects and insights into lived experience were really helpful” Criminal Justice Training Participant, 2021

A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: PRISON TOURS Thurs 27th May, 3pm-5pm

Perfect for artists, touring theatre companies and criminal justice practitioners. This session provided a detailed look at the process of taking professionally produced theatre into a prison setting. By the end of the session artists and theatre companies were be able to understand the unique challenges of touring theatre to prison settings and the steps that must be taken to plan a successful theatre tour. By the end of the session, CJS practitioners were able to confidently invite a theatre company to perform at their establishment.

CREATIVITY ‘ON THE OUT’ Thurs 10th June, 3pm-5pm

Perfect for artists and criminal justice practitioners, this training explored the process of making art and theatre with groups of people with convictions in community settings. By the end of the session, attendees were able to confidently design and start to plan an arts project for a community setting, working with people with convictions.

PROVE IT: MEASURING CREATIVITY Thurs 24th June, 3pm-5pm

Perfect for artists, touring theatre companies and criminal justice practitioners, this training gave an insight into what success looks like to different stakeholders and the tools to effectively measure the impact of work in the criminal justice system. By the end of the session, participants were able to confidently design an evaluation plan for an arts project in the criminal justice system.

The online sessions lead up to a full day ‘practice jam’ in September, where participants had the opportunity to meet and learn from other artists and criminal justice practitioners. People with lived experience of the criminal justice system helped us to practice exercises and provide feedback on our creative approaches. This session was aimed at both arts practitioners to refresh their ‘in-person’ practice and learn about delivering in prison settings, together with criminal justice practitioners who wished to introduce creative methods into their everyday practice. The workshop had some exercises focused on networking to strengthen the resilience of the arts in criminal justice sector. The workshop was held in Leeds.

 “I love the amount of knowledge and experience [that was] shared. Also, having people with lived experience [was] so invaluable and insightful” Criminal Justice Training Participant, 2021

FULL DAY WORKSHOP: PRISON PRACTICE JAM & NETWORKING Thurs 29th Sep, 10am – 4pm , Leeds, UK

Perfect for artists and criminal justice practitioners, this training provided participants with a space to share existing theatre exercises, adapt the tools they know and love, with input from others and learn new techniques for bringing creativity into criminal justice settings. By the end of the session, participants were able to critically analyse the suitability of their practice for a prison setting, introduce new techniques to their practice and build their confidence in creative methods of working with prisoners and people with convictions.

“It gave the men a positive hope for the future which is so important and vital to aid reducing the chance of re-offending. Two of the men are on my caseload and I observed them in a completely different environment and saw how intelligent and proactive they both were. It gave them hope and also a chance to learn more about themselves. Well done to all imagine if staff and the men. Thoroughly enjoyable and extremely worthwhile. Five stars *****” Bird on the Wing Prison Programme, Claire Collinson: Prison Offender Manager, HMP Moorland, 2019

We also teamed up with Bradford Producing Hub to support anyone involved in making live arts and living or working in Bradford District to attend this training programme through their Spare Bob micro-grants scheme. Bradford Producing Hub was able to fund the cost of eligible participants attending all the training sessions, plus the costs for their time and any resources they needed to attend. 

 

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