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Arts engagement reduces reoffending, research suggests

Limiting access to the arts disenfranchises a generation, said Samantha Cairns, co-director of the Cultural Learning Alliance. Photo: SpeedKingz Limiting access to the arts disenfranchises a generation, said Samantha Cairns, co-director of the Cultural Learning Alliance. Photo: SpeedKingz
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Taking part in arts activities reduces the chance of young offenders committing another crime by up to a fifth, claims new research.

According to statistics from the Cultural Learning Alliance, young offenders who engage in the arts are 18% less likely to reoffend.

Samantha Cairns, co-director of the Cultural Learning Alliance, made the claim at Ensuring Cultural Education for England, a Policy-UK cultural education forum, on December 7.

Cairns also said that if young offenders take part in the arts their “literacy and numeracy skills increase and they are more likely to go into education when they leave prison”.

According to the alliance, re-offending rates among young people who took part in summer arts colleges  were 56% compared to a national re-offending rate of 72%.

In her speech to the Policy-UK Forum, Cairns focused on the benefit of arts education for primary school- and GCSE-aged children, and stressed that “limiting access to the arts disenfranchises a generation”.

New research into the outcomes of cultural learning will be published in January in ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning, which Cairns has developed with the Cultural Learning Alliance.

The Case for Cultural Learning was first published in 2014 with five key research findings, including improvements in attainment, cognitive abilities and increased employability because of cultural learning.

New findings from the report show how students from low-income families who engage in the arts are twice as likely to volunteer,  and are 20% more likely to vote.

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