Artistic excellence and change
Elsewhere, Pauline Gladstone, a former Arts in Criminal Justice Consultant, wearily states: “I spent fifteen years of my professional career frustrated seeing every day how powerful the arts are in criminal justice. Every day working with people but not being able to get through to the policy makers, the people who can make big decisions and really make a difference.”
Convincing policy-makers has meant stringent evaluation and documentation. Led by Dr. Andrew Miles of Manchester University (and including ethnographers), the research outlines the participants’ increased capacity to learn over the programme and the positive education, training and employment (ETE) outcomes. Baseline figures showed high rates of participant retention and attendance, allied with low rates of recidivism. Those that did drop out within two weeks were found to be twice as likely to re-offend. And the bottom line? By stopping one person from re-offending, Dance United saves the public purse about €92,000.
This is a language understood by those working within the Criminal Justice System, who see the changes that programme brings to an individual. Darryl, a former participant, speaks to the camera about how the programme brought structure to his life and awareness of community. But more eloquent is how he walks across the stage, with a concentrated focus and fluidity, in contrast to the restless movement tics of the street.