Arts in Criminal Justice


Artlink Central has extensive experience of delivering cultural opportunities to offenders and has had significant success in capturing strong evaluation of work delivered. After a strong three year programme which ended in 2010, a new range of programmes has been undertaken in 2013, as outlined below:

1. Creative Practice in Prisons

Evolving new programmes which support women centred practice by artists in prisons, focussing initially on HMP Cornton Vale.

2. Forthways

This is a Creative Public Service design programme, exploring how referral pathways can support offenders in prisons and living in the community, to access creative opportunities which support them to reduce chances of reoffending.

3. Scottish Prison Arts Network

Artlink Central is supporting the Scottish Prison Arts Network as a partner and playing a strong strategic and practical role in establishing and growing this emerging network, to raise the profile and quality of arts practice / delivery in criminal justice in Scotland.

Freedom to Create

The “Freedom to Create” programme specifically aims to meet the needs of women offenders, both in terms of identifying and addressing barriers that may or may not be gendered physical, social or emotional barriers to participating in and engaging with cultural opportunity, but also which use creative approaches to exploring and addressing the wider context of the gendered nature of criminal justice establishments in a positive and co-productive way. 

Freedom to Create is an Artlink Central project funded by Creative Scotland, Robertson Trust, and Volant Trust through Foundation for Scotland, delivered in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and New Lanarkshire College (NCLAN) through the Criminal Justice Third Sector Framework for Partnership.

Although planning, strategic and partnership development began earlier, Freedom to Create projects didn’t begin delivery until October 2013 and the projects are still evolving; learning to meet the needs of the women and SPS outcomes. The aims of the first projects were to allow the artist to get to know the prison, staff, facilities and the women and to develop relationships with both the women and with officers who enabled the artist to develop meaningful projects. 

Our three reports highlight the positive progress that has been made to date, challenges and changes, and developments for the future. 

Freedom to Create is a women-centred programme of high quality arts initiatives that aim, through strong partnerships, to support the wider SPS objective of encouraging desistance from crime and supporting Scottish Government-led Offender Outcomes.


Read our Year 1 and 2, 3 Evaluation Reports for Freedom to Create

Illuminate Video - Winner of Koestler Award for Scotland - Platinum