Den Bosch Diaries

Diary by Kirsten Kearney——————————————————->

The Final Turning Point

The great invitation to Meet us at the Turning Point – The Turning Point concept, something that we at ESC were proud to bring to the table. The Turning Point something we tried to capture in our contribution to the Textile Piece – with our dyed partisan flags with their corners and directions imprinted into every stripe. Turning Points that we try to bring into the lives of the people that we all work with. A Turning Point this last meeting.

A radical, impressive theatre space. A town full of culture, bikes, movement. A town at ease with itself. A space for reflection. For figuring out what we have learnt. For coming together to share the challenges we each face in our own countries, so similar although so different.

Is a Turning Point a point, a shift, a U-turn, a time, a place, a space? We think. We share. We agree. We disagree. We bring in the ‘experts’. We are the experts. We are aware that we have the tools to create change. We are aware that the rules often mean we don’t get to use them.

We are progressive. We have ideas. We have methods that work. We can even prove it. We are instituting small changes in our countries. We are hoping that the seeds planted will grow to make a bigger difference than the ones we see.

We face shut doors. Austerity. Closure. Cuts. Frustration. Hardship. The price of commitment. We have the answers. They don’t want to ask the questions.

We listen to a Doctor talking of Benjamin and Adorno. Of the price of happiness. Of meaning. Of meaning in face of death. We consider how Europe can continue to be. What Europe means. What each of us mean within it.

We ponder how to balance empathy. Compassion. Victims v. perpetrators. ‘Perpetrators’ as victims. The grey space in between.

We think of the next step. Of conversation. Of structured dialogues. Of ‘where do we go from here’

Here, itself, is a turning point.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Tom Magill——————————————————->

We arrived on Wednesday and checked into the hotel near the Artemis venue. On Thursday we meet the others outside their hotel in the square and walked to the railway station to pick up our bikes for the ride to the prison. This was a great idea and it worked so well. We had a glorious ride on cycle paths through the woods to the prison at Vught. We locked our bikes outside and were processed into the prison, where we met some of the education staff including Jan, and we had lunch together.
After lunch, the Director of Prison Education spoke to us about Vught. It has approximately 700 inmates, with 80% of the population serving less than 6 months. The budget is €4 per day to feed each prisoner. Mental illness is an issue for many of the prisoners. And there are no special facilities for Lifers, with 24 prisoners in maximum security. There are 224 penitentiary sentenced men with a mental illness in a secure hospital, which are attended by doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists. The recidivists who enter and exit the prison continually through a revolving door can get a 2-year sentence. They usually have no social network outside prison. Those who can’t be detained anywhere else form another group of 48 prisoners. Twenty-four people work in cooperation with the mental hospital. Many of those are ill and many have behavioural problems. They staff who work with them have a variety of skills to work with this group. Motivation is a key problem with this group.
We then went on a tour of the workshops with Mirthe and Jan and were introduced to some of the prisoners from each unit. It was informal and relaxed and we heard first hand of the benefits of prison education in helping these young men transform their lives. Being able to articulate their emotions through art and then communicate what impact this had upon them was refreshing to hear from the youth themselves. From the classrooms we saw some of the living accommodation and then made our way over to another unit. This housed adult men who were serving long sentences, some for sexual crimes. We had a brief tour of the common room and the outside garden where they grew plants and vegetables and kept chickens and rabbits. It was so strange to see this rural scene in a long-term prison. It brought an unusual air of ordinariness to a maximum-security prison. I have never seen anything like this in the UK or US prison system. What a great idea!
I did a brief introduction of my journey from prisoner to writer/director through education and screened the first section of Mickey B, the prison Shakespeare film adaptation of Macbeth I directed with prisoners in Northern Ireland. The men were looking forward to watching the whole film together on Saturday.
By the time we departed with this group it was time to cycle back to Dem Bosch where we had some free time before dinner. Then we went to Ankie’s house and enjoyed some beautiful Indonesian cuisine. After that it was time to watch the Jeroen Bosch Parade on the river. It was spectacular and so imaginative watching the procession of different themed barges coming down the river with sights and sound and colours to stir the imagination, a terrific spectacle.
On Friday we started at 10am in the Artemis theatre that Ankie had been involved in founding many years ago. It was a beautiful building with lots of light and a theatre downstairs.
Frans and Jairi opened the discussion, sharing a major turning point from their own lives. This helped to ground the discussions and encouraged other people to do likewise, sharing their own experiences with honesty and integrity.
We learned that a turning point could be a place, a moment, a decisive moment.
That being on the same level as inmates is important, to build trust, taking the same risks as we ask them to take as practitioners. We had this example in Poland and in Greece, where we learned new skills under the direction of the prisoners. This equality helps to build trust.
Rules are not the best way to do it. There is an unequal power differential involved. They favour one side over the other.
Ed introduced the three partners to present and said: ‘You got the rules (prison authorities) we got the tools.’ (arts practitioners.)
We then had three partners sharing their work in 5-minute presentations.
Greece, Ireland then Portugal went first. All of the work is about facilitating turning points in people’s lives. No one wants to remain imprisoned. People want to change but they don’t know how. We have the arts educational methods to empower them to make that change. We just need the access and support to sustain our work within the criminal justice system. That is the common theme.
Fiona spoke next about her work within the Koestler trust. Getting ex-prisoners involved in the Koestler exhibitions had transformed the experience for visitors to the South Bank. Because the ex-prisoners were committed to the ideas of art having a transformative effect upon people’s lives.
Paula from Ireland spoke about the art piece all of the partners contributed to and that she had organised and put together.
Pris Tatipikalaban spoke next about the value of arts in restoring human values.
She spoke of how art restores human values. It creates something out of nothing. The skills involved include planning and organisation. The executive function of your brain is engaged in any creative project, this stimulates the happy hormone, as people enjoy contributing, collaborating and communicating together towards a common goal. Whilst being creative it is hard not to be happy, it creates its own reward. It also encourages honesty and courage in an environment that is filled with shame and regret for stupid choices made in the past. The value of art is that it provides a safe powerful playground. And many of the people incarcerated that we work with had little safety or opportunity to play as children.
Then we had a short coffee break before the next speaker.
Thijis Lijster was co-author of the study – The Value of Culture 2014 with Pascal Gielen.
Culture is what we do in the face of death to give meaning to our lives.
Culture can give people an autonomous voice.
Culture is ordinary.
Culture is the stories we tell ourselves about each other.
The value of culture is both micro and macro.
It has cognitive and health effects upon well-being.
It has experiential value.
Economic value – the creative class.
Social – social cohesion, social capital (there is the least proof of this category)
Culture has a binding and a bridging strengthening role to the social fabric of society.
It has a role in emancipation and empowerment.
Sex becomes reproduction, there is more to culture than outputs.
The danger is – what you measure is what you get.
Not everything that is measurable is meaningful. And contra wise, not everything that is meaningful is measurable.
Not everything that is valuable can be measured.
We need to study culture – why?
The inability for people to give meaning to their lives can result in meaningless violence and suicide. Without investments in culture there is no such thing as society.
No culture no Europe. (Book reference).
Then we had lunch. After lunch we had a wonderful musical interlude with Neda Boin from YIP.
Jan Molman the director of the Exodus foundation in Den Bosch spoke of why art is important for ex-prisoners and why.
Why creativity? Focus on evidence based methods.
Esther and Jairi spoke next about their work in YIP within a Forensic Treatment centre.
Goals:
1. To create a moral climate to develop themselves as full citizens. Basic rights must include for them to join in society – protection, growth, encouragement, join-in, learn, make choices, and join forces.
2. 10 groups of 8-10 boys in a structured programme including education, therapy, sports, arts.
3. Creativity is freedom – there are good reasons to protect these activities: self-esteem, working together, discovering talent. In the arts they learn skills, dream, free wheel, achieve small goals.
The result is that they feel proud from showing their work, they don’t like talking, no brainwork, they like learning by doing and have fun and vibe.
Professor Jan van Dijk spoke next about victims.
Asking the question: If you have the care of the prisoner, what about the victim’s rights? And is there a place within prison art for empathy with the victim, to create a place of understanding?
These are rhetorical questions. Because the answer is ‘of course!’ But the professor has claimed the moral high ground in unassailable fashion. Now looking back on our programme – Partners in Crime Prevention, the people who could potentially benefit most, i.e. the victims, or potential victims, are missing from the project. This is our blind spot. If the professor were present from day one with his questions about victims, we would have a very different programme. I suspect we would also have a lot more buy-in from politicians and from those in power. Why? Because there are votes in victim’s issues – whereas, there are much less in prisoner’s issues. As they say in Belfast – ‘I think we missed a trick.’
Saturday.
We met in Artemis at 10.30 to discuss the project and the leanings gained from it. We did a visual exercise signifying the beginning of the project, the turning point and where we are now through a symbolic tree of life drawing. Then we had a discussion on the tree exercise. It was simple yet effective and it didn’t rely on language, but visuals that we all could use – a great exercise.
Then we were given two questions to answer on two different shape stickies.
1. What did you learn?
My thoughts were that how easy it is to prove the impact of arts education with the prisoner participants. But how difficult it is to translate that into sustainability of the project, despite its success.
2. What did you think of the structure of the meetings?
I thought the meetings were well organised and structured to encourage everyone’s voice.
We then put the answers into a bowl and passed them around, took one each and made a brief comment on the statement.
We then talked about new funding opportunities within the EU for structured dialogue between policy makers and the target group.
We saw this as an opportunity to convince the policy makers of the power of what we do as arts practitioners within criminal justice. This funding will provide a dialogue where we can use the arts to communicate.
Ed’s idea s to work with the young people (offenders) and then use the content of the creative storytelling workshops which they will create to communicate with the policy makers.
We then had 3 questions to consider:
1. is it a good idea?
2. What is to add?
3. Who wants to be involved? I’ve added a 4th & 5th question –
4. What’s in it for the policy makers/politicians?
5. What problem are we solving for whom with this creative intervention?
Some of the points that came up in the discussion:
• Make a distinction between policy makers and politicians
• Focus on oppositional parties – as the conservatives are in power
• When does he/she benefit most?
• Include cultural change makers
• Lets make arts and education a human right
• Let’s include victims as major stakeholders from the start in the next project
Feedback was positive.
Question 1 yes
Question 2 what defines youth? What’s in it for them? How high do we aim?
We drew a triangle with politicians at the top and youth offenders at the bottom.
Question 3 What is the scope of the target group?
Outcomes of the project:
A website and manual
Diaries from this meeting and presentations from yesterday
Deadline 4th July 2015 for diaries
Send documents and pictures separately
Final pieces for the manual deadline 31st August 2015-07-03
30th September is the deadline for the National Agency final report.
The most important things are proof of motilities’ and the report Certificates.
Erica talked briefly about the awards for the art pieces outlining the criteria for judging:
• Intention
• Need to express
• Technique
• 7 deadly sins
We have travelled a long way together and shared many things over that time. It has been a real honour and a privilege to take part in the programme and meet a wealth of talent from other European countries doing this work often, within difficult circumstances. We look forward to the next opportunity of working together in the future.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Erica Kubic——————————————————->

Thursday, June 18 – Visit P.I. Vught

After a bicycle ride through the green outskirts of Den Bosch and Vught, we are received in P.I. Vught with a short introduction of the historical part ‘Kamp Vught’, which, among others, served as a concentration camp during World War II.

In his welcome speech, director of Joep Adank explains the new ‘sobriety’ the Dutch government dictates for prisons; no more art and music programmes, no more library, but e-books instead, and even no more peanut-butter for breakfast, which, for Dutch people, is quite a punishment. He states his regrets about having to lose the artistic staff and a tradition of art education of nearly 50 years.

P.I. Vught consists of a huge complex of many different buildings, surrounded by green, well-kept gardens with sculptures by well-known artists. Each building houses a different category of prisoner. There are 720 in all and their regimes range from High Security (international crimes, violent, break-out risks) to High Care (psychiatric disorders). Most prisoners have a sentence of a few years, but the Life sentences are increasing.

A special category is that of the repeat offenders, who are taken in for 2 years; one year locked up and having to work with coaches on their behaviour and life-style, and the second year being able to go to school or work on the outside, but having to spend the night in jail.

The staff of TBS (Longstay) department has many  a staff with different specialties such as security or psychiatry and there are opportunities for them to develop.

Joep explains that the Dutch look at prisons as ‘holiday camps’, which is far from the truth. These are dark days, where only money counts and the loss of a great part of the educational programmes will make the prisons dehumanizing for the prisoners.

We talk with a repeat offender who is in his second year. He lives in a one-person cell and enjoys working on art projects. He wants to start up his economics studies again and feels good about this system where they can keep a check on him, afraid  as he is of falling back into crime. He would like to see even more art programmes. His coach tells about the difficulty of making the prisoners talk about their problems. If they would, the coaches could help them better.

We visit the supermarket, where prisoners can send in lists of products they require, which will be boxed and delivered to them in their cells and they pay electronically. The shop is run by prisoners, at distance overseen by a few coaches. The coaches tell how the people who work in the shop feel save there and therefore it is a job in great demand.

The music therapist tells how she works one on one with prisoners from the High Care unit (psychiatric disorders) and always has security present. More than 54% of the men have a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She tries to take the prisoner out of his comfort zone in order to open them up for attention-training through music. She interacts with the music teachers and the psychiatrists. Some psychiatrists find it hard to deal with the fact that in this setting the music-therapists and they have the same weight in decisions being made about the prisoners.

On we go to the TBS Unit where most people will spend the rest of their life. They have their own room, there is a pleasant living room and a garden with chicken, rabbits and an aviary.

And finally we visit the art building where we make magnificent noise together. Within 5 minutes Leon manages to have us play as a rock band and everybody is banging or strumming on instruments with a huge smile on their face.

And we end the visit with a look at Mirthe’s light and spacious art studio, where she works (until July 13) with different prisoners, groups of maximum 8 students. Depending on their regime, with one guard. Peer works with 1 high security prisoner, who comes with 4 guards.

In the evening Ankie generously opens up her beautiful house for the group to enjoy a great Indonesian meal in a homely setting. After dinner we walk to the river to see the Bosch Parade, a yearly event in which rafts with images And scene’s inspired by Jeroen Bosch, created by artists and volunteers, float down the river. Also C&C was participating with a raft built by Ed and Mirthe, volunteers and prisoners at the end of their detention from the Exodus House in Den Bosch.

Friday, June 19 – Seminar: Meet Us At The Turning Point

Frans and Jaïri moderate the day. Frans refers to  the Wikipedia description of Turning Point: A point at which a significant change or historical occurs, or at which a decision must be made.

He tells about his own TP when he was an intern at Castrum Peregrini and realized that he too strongly believed in Castrum’s core values of freedom, friendship and culture, and this was  the work he wanted to do.

Ed welcomes partners and guests with his view on TP: either a place or a moment when change takes place. The place must be Here/ the moment is Now. A TP doesn’t necessarily have to be a U-turn, a small shift can eventually result in great change.

Ed tells about working on the raft for the Bosch Parade with the prisoners. In the Exodus House where they live there is structure and many rules. Ed is rather chaotic, but still got the work done and saw significant changes in attitude in the people he worked with. Some of them really opened up to him. Rules and structure are not everything. For the work we all do in prisons the motto should be: You got the rules, we got the tools.

In the short introductions of the partners, Ioannis (Greece), introduces his prison school with a national curriculum, this year 174 pupils, aged 18-21, of 20 different nationalities. On top of 35 weekly hours of education, there are 30 hours of cultural activities (15 programmes). Posters and booklets record the presentations of these activities.

Veronica (Ireland) tells about the video’s she has made of the vernissages of prison art exhibitions. The prisoners can not be present themselves, but can see the reactions of the audience on video. Her TP is ‘Peace in a Pod’ an art project in which Northern and Southern Ireland met.

Her challenge is the revolving-door criminal; never long enough in jail to participate in art classes. Her dream; to make a mural in one of the prisons as in Avlona and to have an Arts & Crafts shop with prison art.

Maria (Portugal) showed a professional video clip of the work of PELE, which showed the values and the people with which they work. Her TP was November 7, 2007, when PELE was created.

Speaker Fiona Curran (Koestler Trust, UK) focused on the elements involved in their annual awards competition. They send information not only to the prison art teachers, but also to the direction and the officers, so the encouragement for the prisoners to participate comes from all sides. They make an exhibition of ca. 150 pieces in respected galleries, have prestigious judges, such as Grayson Perry, and have all design and printing done by professionals. Lately they have also included installations in which literature is projected on the walls. There are 1 or 2 days specially for family.

They also sell the art for reasonable prices, of which 25% goes to charities for victims. Talented and dedicated participants are offered mentoring and are matched with an artist in their area after their detention.

More and more the Koestler Trust wants to involve ex-offenders in presenting their work to the outside world and be involved in the organization, so it can eventually become ‘by and for offenders’.

Already ex-offenders are exhibition hosts and learn to face the public. KT offers a flexible work-week and it’s a success. Additionally, ex-offenders are represented in the staff and in steering groups. Further aims are to have ex-offenders in magazine editorial groups and as charity board members. The Koestler Trust has to do an enormous amount of fund-raising and offer named awards for sizable individual donations. Last year it received a first Arts Council Grant, representing ca. 10% of their turnover.

www.koestlertrust.org.uk

Textile Piece. Paula tells about the 2 year long process of creating the PICP quilted ‘banner’ with all the 7 prison art organizations involved. The impressive result hangs today behind the speakers, like a PICP logo.

Prison art teacher Pris chants and shows in drawings a moving story about her life and the wrong decisions she ones made, but how being creative, creating something out of nothing, taught her the social skills needed to go on. It’s between the ears: the parts of the brain for the executive function are rewarded when being creative (dopamine). Still, she feels that within the freedom of the arts there is a responsibility. (link)

Philosopher Thijs Lijster, co-author of the research ‘The Value of Culture’ tells how this research was done by going over all the existing research on the value of culture, but is critical of those, because when you set out to measure an aspect you want to know, you forget to measure everything else of importance to the subject. Therefore he is also critical about  ‘evidence-based’ policies. He talks about the gradual disappearance of a ‘commons’ – a place for everyone to discuss and be heard – in Europe and touches upon the question of how to become a European. For the full lecture please read Thijs Lijster’s powerpoint, attached. For the summary of the ‘Value of Culture’ report, see: http://www.kunsten.be/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Cnet-De-waarde-van-cultuur-rapport-Engelse-versie.pdf

PICP partners Adam (Poland), Tom (UK, Northern Ireland),  Mirthe (Vught, NL) and Jaïri (YIP) present their organizations and their TP’s. For Adam the TP was when a group of prisoners built, in great detail, a model of the prison. They learned to see that something is possible if you put your mind to it.

As for Tom, you can read his TP in his story in the 7 Sins publication. In prison he learned to love his enemy, who lead him to reading and learning. Kirsten’s TP was meeting Tom.

Mirthe’s TP is, sadly enough,  good work ending, but also seeing it as a positive step to what is next in life.

Jaïri’s TP is now: she will start a new study on Social Impact in California in a few weeks.

Seminar guest Agnès Ramnant (Art Without Bars, België) shows us an art-history book entirely made by prisoners and draws our attention to the Outsider Art Festival in Rotterdam.

Neda Boin, a young singer/song writer with a CD in her name, works with young prisoners in Amstelbaken, a private institution. She gives song-writing workshops and recorded a CD with the young people, mostly consisting of Rap. The development that she sees in the boys is satisfying, also the fact that some of the staff sometimes joins in. On the other hand there are staff members that exercise some censorship, since rap can be quite outspoken.

The many unexpected things that happen during the work, such as pupils that don’t show up or negative reactions from staff don’t get her down. She sings a lovely, sad song about a prisoner seeing a train go by and yearning to be on it. www.nedaboin.com. What a voice !

Speaker: Jan Molmans, director of Exodus House, Den Bosch, explains that Exodus provides half-way houses for prisoners in the last part of their detention. In that phase they need to find a job, a house, relationships and ways to give meaning to their life.

The principles of Exodus have their roots in the Catholic religion and show that at the base of every religion are fundamental values without which society cannot exist.

Exodus Den Bosch offers Music Battles, issues each year a Bajes Agenda with poems by the participants and the Annual Calendar of Hope.

Jan also sees how creative contact can make the prisoners take down their mask, revealing their ‘persona’, and opening them up to speak with their own voice. The ‘subjectivation’ through culture of which also Thijs spoke earlier.

Speaker: Esther Overweter, director Youth Prison Teylingereind, a private institution for boys, aged 12  through 25, run by highly educated professionals with evidence-based methods. Many are short-stay prisoners (3 weeks to 3 months), but there is also intensive treatment up to 7 years for psychiatric disorders. Esther chooses for the arts because creativity means freedom, provides non-cognitive learning, builds self-esteem and provides the possibility to achieve small, concrete goals. Since it is a private institution, fundraising can be done for these activities, which is not possible in a state prison because of the many permits needed and the enormous bureaucracy.

Esther says that when the YIP Caravan is in the prison, the boys and the staff work together and people are smiling.

Speaker Jan van Dijk, criminologist and victimologist, makes a link to Arthur Koestler, since in his novels he writes about the rights of prisoners and pleads for the abolishment of the death penalty.

He asks the people present, who care so much for prisoners, to have an eye for the pain of the victims. In the past the attitude was: if you allow the presence of the victim, it will be the end of a human prison system. Christianity expected the victim to bear his suffering in silence. Now the presence of the victim is slowly allowed in the juridical process. It can often lead to relief and even forgiveness, although it is not the moral duty of the victim to forgive the perpetrator.

He asks the PICP and Koestler Trust whether in the art of prisoners an understanding of the suffering of the victim can be seen.

Paneldiscussion.

Fiona answers the question Jan posed at the end of his presentation. Yes, some work shows care for the victims.  The Koestler Trust has links with Victim Support, important, because otherwise you make yourself vulnerable in the public opinion. The 2010 London Exhibition was about victims and there were special tours for victims.

Jan observes that prisoners often panic when you try to talk with them about victims, it is a delicate issue.

Pris: art created the awareness that made it possible for her to fight her anger. Ed has the experience of prisoners opening up to him.

Maria: Often we don’t know what their crime was. We create a space in which they can re-write their narrative.

Jan M. The government doesn’t like the empty spaces needed for this. Is there a playground where victims and criminals can meet?

Thijs: Unique about art is that it creates a space of the imagination, this could be the space to meet.

Fiona: The TP is when a prisoner can think about himself as a different person, as a father, an artist, and no longer as a burglar.

Thijs: too much emphasis is placed on socialization, while subjectivation means knowing  who you are.

Guest: there is a difference between guild and responsibility.

Maria: Let’s stop the ‘we’ and ‘them’. They are us and we are them.

The day ends with the vernissage of the exhibition ‘The 7 Deadly Sins’ an exhibition of prison art on this theme, inspired by the painting by Jeroen Bosch. Works have been sent in from all the PICP countries, which also each contributed an essay, poems or Rap for the publication catalogue with the exhibition.  The original basement of the Jeroen Bosch House, where Jeroen has walked, was graciously made available for the exhibition by Johannes van Rooij, the owner of the house and his wife Dali. He also sponsored the money prizes for the 7 winners and magazine.

Saturday, June 20 – Evaluation

An evaluation is an inevitable last part of a project. Luckily we are with many artists, so a creative way to find out what we learned and experienced is available.

The Tree

All partners get a sheet on which is a tree with many figures climbing up to the top, some struggling, some helping each other, some fighting, some hugging, some reaching out to go higher, etc.

We are asked to consider: our individual feelings, the structure and the content of the partnership and circle 3 figures, showing three moments in time: at the start, a Turning Point, and looking back.

Overall, most of the partners start by confidently walking through the door at the bottom of the tree, but there are also those who experienced the initial struggle over the organization of the partnership strongly. Some others, for whom it was a first EU project, felt like they had to climb up a rope.

Most Turning Points are moments of experienced solidarity, moments of physically working together, as in Athens and Porto, or learning moments caused by speakers or talks.

Almost everybody ends up in the top branches of the tree, some proud, some tired, and some seeing it as a point of departure of the next project.

The Stickers

  1. Content

We are asked to write a short phrase on a square sticker commenting on the content of the partnership: what did you learn?

Similar issues across Europe in prison systems. Different realities in prisons. Importance of good communication cultural diversity. How powerful the arts are. Language of art is international. Innovative methods. Bonding/solidarity. Different perspectives, same goals. Social Impact Bond, new funding potential. Art in prison doesn’t have a secure future. How difficult it is to sustain projects, regardless of their success.

 

  1. Structure of meetings

Next we write on oblong stickers what we thought of the structure of the PICP meetings.

Enjoyed the diversity of listening, discussing and doing. Creative interludes worked wonderfully. Well thought out and planned. Inspiring. Sometimes a lot of captains. Structured to encourage every voice to be heard. Have a chairperson. Experiential learning (Greece, Porto)as well as depth with speakers. Balance of full sessions with fun and socializing. Some speakers too academic. Focus on one topic. Meetings always under time pressure. Sometimes missed the guidelines of the project. Prison visit in each country was great.

Agora

Ed thanks the partners for their full cooperation and contributions. The partners thank Ed for making the exchanges possible and the great amount of work he has done.

Ed hands out a draft for a next project: Agora, a structured dialogue. Erasmus+, KA3.

Structured dialogues between politicians, policymakers, cultural change-makers and youth at the edge of society, fed by the results of arts workshops.

In 3 groups this proposal is discussed on the questions: 1. Is this a good idea? 2. What do you miss? 3. Who wants to be involved?

  1. Natural next step for continuity. Also involve the middle layer of the pyramid: teachers, staff, volunteers, etc. Let’s broaden it up to culture, not just art.

The focus group is youth. Which age group is that in the EU call for proposals?

  1. It’s good to let policymakers experience the art workshops and the impact of them.

Politicians, however, speak a different language – how do we bridge this gap?

Which policy makers (up to which level) are meant to participate?

Policymakers must be committed from the start. Seduce them with some big name artists.

What is in it for policymakers and politicians?

Connect with current issues, like refugees.

Missing: the language is now somewhat naïve, it must stay poetic, but also be clear.

  1. Include also victims. Include critical voices. Create a EU manifest: Participation in the arts as a human right. (it is already, art. 151?).

All present want to participate in the project.

The deadline for application is October 20, Ed will send around a draft for comments early September.

Output of the PICP partnership

Website – is mostly complete, looking good, but will need the learners’ diaries of the Den Bosch meeting by July 4. We can continue to upload interesting articles, projects, etc. for the next two years. When submitting a document to Ioannis, please mail your design in Pdf  so Ioannis can see your design, in addition to two separate files of text and pictures.

 Turning Point Manual of best practice – already many contributions, elegant design referring to the website design. It will stay open for contributions (Maria) until August 1. Then it will be connected to the website.

The 7 Deadly Sins Exhibition – more than 80 amazing artworks from many different prisons in the partner-countries were submitted. A jury, consisting of a design expert also working in prison, an art teacher who taught in P.I.Vught for 25 years and an art historian selected 42 works to be shown in the exhibition out of which 7 were awarded a €100,- prize.  The exhibition is shown in  house where Jeroen Bosch lived centuries ago and may have painted his own Seven Deadly Sins painting.

The PICP Seven Deadly Sins Publication – a magazine containing pictures of the artworks selected for the exhibition, plus 7 essays/poems/raps, one written by, or commissioned by each PICP partner organization.

All four of these outputs are truly collaborative efforts and nobody failed to contribute, which is not often the case in EU projects.

The Final Reports are due with the national agencies are due September 30. Team NL, as lead partner will write an overall report, to be mailed to the partners early September.

After a round of expressing our gratitude to each other for the learning, solidarity, hospitality and fun we had, we have a beautiful last lunch. Special thanks to Ankie who found us great places to meet and eat for very good prices and whose house was open for all involved during the meeting days.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

E.K. June 2015

Diary by Ed Santman ——————————————————->

The catalogue of the exhibition “the Seven Deadly Sins” is on the table in front of me. It reminds me of what was such a crazy week for me. A seminar, the PICP meeting, an exhibition, a magazine and our contribution for the Bosch Parade, a floating piece of art that we made with volunteers and ex-offenders. All within seven days.
Looking back I am surprised how well it all went, I enjoyed all the commitment of the C&C team Erica, Ankie, Mirthe, Welmoed, Jairi, Frans and all the people involved in the PICP project. So special to work with all these wonderful and inspiring people.
Days later when I returned to the prison where I have been working for more than 15 years, I was shocked to notice how uninspired and unmotivated my colleagues suddenly looked. It was so different from what I had experienced the week before wit hall PICP partners. The contrast was so big. The atmosphere that had seemed normal a few weeks ago suddenly seemed so depressing.
What a crazy week it was for me, at the seminar on Friday I finally started to feel a little relaxed, I enjoyed the presentations and I realized I could let go, the project was almost finished. Yet there is so much to be done so many things to say, I hope we will find ways to work together again.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Una Guildea——————————————————->

My visit to Den Bosch and PI Vught prison was as inspiring and energerising as expected.
Day 1 – After arriving at the hotel and checking in we went to the central station to pick up our bikes. We then cycled through idyllic Dutch landscape to Vught prison. PI Vught prison built on the grounds of a former WW2 transit/concentration camp, the place seeped in history and, ironically, incarceration.
The prison itself is a massive complex, comprising 7 separate units, including one high security unit where we learned that lessons are given behind glass. The prison is ‘home’ to “very ill people, very dangerous people and all inbetween”. I learned that a life sentence really is a life sentence in Holland and that a prison year is 12 months (compared to 9 months in Ireland.) I also learned that our Dutch colleagues are due to lose their jobs in December because the present Dutch government does not deem teaching art in prisons as necessary.
In the evening we were treated to wonderful Indonesian catering and an evening by the canal watching the Jeroen Bosch Parade on water.
Day 2 – We went to Artemis for a day- long seminar “Meet Us at the Turning Point”. A day filled with interesting speakers and discussions around the value of art in prisons, how do we show this value to the world and where to find funding for prison art projects.
I found it interesting to hear about The Koestler Trust; Thijs Lijster had interesting things to say about culture, all the more relevant given the situation that Greece is in now, reference was made to the book ‘No Culture No Europe’; Prof.dr. Jan van Dijk’s talk lead to a lively exchange about the victim; and the PICP partners video clips and mini-presentations gave a wonderful insight into the amazing work that is being done by dedicated people in prisons all over Europe.
During the course of the day, I couldn’t help but find it ironic that we were confirming the importance of arts education in prisons in the knowledge that the Dutch art teachers are to lose their jobs very soon. I felt we were talking to the converted and that what was needed was somethig which would bring the policy makers into the equation, and indeed this was addressed in Day 3, during our final PICP meeting, but I am getting ahead of myself here!
After the seminar was over we all headed to the opening of the exhibition ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, and what a treat that was! The location was indeed very special, it was held in the Jeroen Bosch House and our hosts had organised a champagne reception. From floor to ceiling, the house was filled with wonderful art works. ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ exhibition was towards the back of the house in thebasement, the only original part of the building where Bosch himself lived and painted. Such history! I was over the moon to see that three art works from Ireland had been selected for the exhibition, and not only that, but one, from the Dochas Centre, had won one of the seven prizes.
Then, as if the evening couldn’t get any better, dinner at Afghan restaurant Zaher. And finally a spot of dancing, a great end to a great day!
Day 3 – We returned to Artemis to evaluate the PICP project. We were given a handout and asked to describe how we felt coming into the project, during the project and how we feel now. It was a nice moment of personal reflection, and enabled me to see what I had got out of my two visits, to Greece and to Holland. We then discussed the reflections as a group.
After this, we discussed a proposal for future collaboration in a ‘Structured Dialogue’, a dialogue which would include the policy makers. We broke up into small groups to discuss the proposal, its merits as well as its potential pitfalls. Coming back together again to discuss the points raised in the small groups, all the partners present expressed interest in being part of this ‘Structured Dialogue’.
Going forward, I think it is important to keep in contact with our European colleagues. Meetings, discussions, exhibitions and presentations are a great way of reaching out, confirming and inspiring us in the work we do. Having said that, it is also extremely important to engage with the policy makers and the general public about what it is we do.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Brigitta Varadi——————————————————->

I come into the PICP program as an artist, who, through the Arts Council of Ireland and the Irish Prison Education Service undertaken several Artist in Prison Scheme residencies. I am not a full time teacher in prison but my passion is to teach art and work with prisoners. I am a freelance art facilitator, program advisor, lecturer and teacher; initiating and delivering a variety of workshops and projects in schools and arts centers as well as working with disabilities and with disadvantage areas and prisons. My students in prison tend to be the most dedicated and talented students: the way they approach felt making, the technique I specialized, with tentativeness and giving time to develop and create the work. Their approach to creative work helping me to my art and my personal development teaching me to slow down and give attention to details.

It was my first time joining the program, I knew it will be a lot to take in, getting to know the other participant and take as much out of the program as I can. Visiting the Vught Prison was, like every time going into prison, an emotional experience. The prison is based on a formal Second World War Prison camp. I do not think I can talk about this more as being Hungarian and coming from Budapest where the Holocaust had so many victims and we lived with the emotional burden of it, just proved to me too much. The current prison is one of the state of art super prison with several prisons inside. The Introduction of the prison was very detail and helpful to understand how this complex prison operates. As an artist I was taken by the architecture of the prison, the contemporary meeting room where it felt , you are not in a prison. I realized that a prison architecture has a lot to do how you feel, as an incoming teacher, in a prison and probably how prisoners feel and relate to being in the prison. I was taken by the music therapy facility and the knowledge the teacher/therapist communicated through her talk introducing the facility to us. The Workshops where prisoners can work was another surprise as each workshop was a separate unit, supporting themselves by the income they generated, including the food shop.
Having a lunch in the prison in a very amazing cafeteria was provided not only time to get to know the other participants but to experience how contemporary beautiful architecture makes a huge difference working and being in a prison environment.
By the time we got back to the town it was evening and we were invited to a private house dinner party. These unstructured times helped me to get to know some of the participants and allowed time to talk and mingle. The Bosch parade, after dinner, was a delight to see all the effort people of this town voluntarily put in to make this event.

The second day proved to be a long but very beneficial day. It was great to see a short presentation from every PICP project members of their prison work and focus. Unfortunately the projector was not the best quality, not doing justice to the work presented through them.

The Seminar was a great learning experience. As an artist I found Fiona Curran, director of the Arts at the Koestler Trust one of the most inspiring of all. Their approach to promote prison arts in and outside of prison, showed years of experience and development which she shared so enthusiastically. There were a few very valuable points I have to mention, which can give students in prisons great sense of pride and encouragement of keep working with the subject of arts. One of them is having a few famous artists on the judging panel of the National Prison Art Exhibition, the other is to have ex-prisoners invigilating the show and talking to the public of their own experience. The other inspirational speakers, for me, were representing Youth Prisons. Collaborative art works with youth prisoners and engagement with youth is one of the key elements in my work as worked on many projects with youth in rapid areas and estates in the North West of Ireland. Music teacher and musician, Neda Boin sharing her experience working with music in prison and recording sessions was really amazing, showing with well experienced and established artists who are at the same time teachers, what are the possibilities within and how quality materials can be created through their knowledge and prisoners talent. The presentation by Dr. Jan van Dijk, criminologist from the International Victimology Institute Tilburg giving me a moment to pause and think.

The day ended with the reception of the Seven Deadly Sins exhibition at the house of an art collector. The exhibition was held at the only existing structure, the cellar, of the original house where Bosch born.

Next day, the evaluation of the program and the Bosch meeting took place in a very creative way. Meeting all the participants at the first time and going through a very intense 2 days, I was still in the space where my brain was trying to process all the knowledge, information, visual and intellectual inspirations.

It was a huge undertake by the organizers and the program was packed with very valuable talks and visits. The unstructured times, the lunches and dinners provided great cultural experiences and time to get to know the other participants. My huge thank you for facilitating my dietary needs, as it is one of the most complex. I am very grateful for that. I am very happy I was provided the opportunity to participate in this program.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Ellen Kelly——————————————————->

Once again my experience as a PiCP participant in Den Bosch was inspiring and invigorating. There was a beautiful balance of thought provoking speakers, lots of wonderful culture, fun and great food!    It was also a great privilege not to be merely a tourist in the Netherlands but to be allowed behind the walls and doors of authentic Dutch life for example the private home where the art exhibition was held, Ankie’s home, the community theatre and of course Vught Prison.

I won’t repeat what so many of the others on the trip have already said.  I will briefly mention what the experience meant to me.

First of all it was lovely to meet everyone once again.  When you meet other prison teachers there’s a great sense of mutual understanding what our work life entails.  This experience is very different to the daily work life of mainstream teachers and it’s refreshing to be able to share resources and experiences without first having to explain in detail what it’s like to work with students within the confines of a prison.

The Pecha Kucha presentations were great and acted as reminder of all the work that is going on behind bars in European prisons.  It’s a great way to catch the essence of the activities in question.  I hadn’t experienced this format before and I will definitely be using it in my work in the future.  So not only did I gain knowledge but also a new teaching method!

I m working within the  Irish prison education system for quite a long time now and it  was great to be reminded of the many aspects that are vital to being an effective teacher working with marginalised students, one who helps sow the seeds of a positive turning point for students whose lives are often chaotic.

I found Professor van Dijk’s presentation an interesting one and a brave move to include his talk on the victims of crime at this conference.  In our daily lives as prison teachers we don’t normally mention the victims – in many ways we see our students as victims.  The Professor reminded me that there must be a balance – that is, we have to help students to stop looking at themselves as victims by empowering them through education and also to help them find a way to empathise with their victims.  This ultimately would lead to crime prevention – rather idealistic, but not impossible I believe.

The output of the project is impressive and I think it’s really great to have the website up and running.  It’s important that we spread the word about this website among our colleagues at home as it is a useful resource.  In this climate of constant cutbacks we need to rely on ourselves, who are working on a daily basis with prisoners, to generate really useful knowledge.  We need to realise that we are the experts working in the field and hopefully we can grow in confidence.  The whole experience of being involved in the PICP project reminded me of this.  Best wishes to all the lovely people I have met through this project and I hope we meet again sometime.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

 

Leave a Reply