Jess Thorpe from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland recognised in nationwide campaign

Jess Thorpe from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland recognised in nationwide campaign

Published: 16/05/2019

A lecturer from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been recognised in a nationwide health and wellbeing campaign.

Jess Thorpe, Lecturer in the Arts in Justice, is one of 100 individuals or groups based in higher education institutions whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference. She is part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing. More than 100 universities from Plymouth to Dundee submitted a nomination.

Jess is the first Lecturer in the Arts in Justice at Scotland’s national conservatoire, and has developed this field of research for ten years. She is 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.

Jess said: “I feel honoured that this work has been recognised in this way. I am a passionate believer in the role that the Arts in Justice has to play in supporting the health and wellbeing of Scottish communities and I feel that that there is so much more we can achieve in this area.

“I would like to thank the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and my colleagues for continuing to support this work and for giving it space to grow and develop within the institution.”

In 2011, Jess 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.

She 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 Artist’s 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 an offenders institution in Scotland.

Image above: Scottish Prison Service

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