The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Improving the health and wellbeing of Scottish prisoners

Jess Thorpe is the first Lecturer in the Arts in Justice at RCS who has developed this field of research for ten years, responsible for the design and delivery of creative projects with Scottish prisoners and communities affected by crime. She has led on national advocacy around the potential of the arts as an act of community and as valuable tool to improve the health and wellbeing and positive futures of Scottish prisoners. In 2011, she was part of setting up the charity the Scottish Prison Arts Network (SPAN), now Justice and Arts Scotland (JAAS), as a way to bring artists and organisations together and progress the dialogue around the Arts in Justice, and improve life chances for individuals in custody. Jess has led work in ten of Scotland's prisons as well as institutions in the USA. She has also produced a number of publications about her work including Tightrope; A Performance Project in HMP Perth (2012), A Little Patch of Sky; The use of the arts to connect families affected by incarceration (2014) and Working in Scottish Prisons, An Artists Guide (2015) for Creative Scotland. After spending a year as artist-in-residence in HMPYOI Polmont in 2018 for Scotland’s Year of Young People, Jess worked with her own theatre company Glas(s) Performance and the children’s charity Barnardo’s to launch the first Youth Theatre in a Offenders Institution in Scotland. Jess is currently representing her work in prisons and her belief in the role the arts can play in the health and well-being of Scottish communities as one of the BBC Expert Women 2019.