Performing Arts and Justice Symposium


Click here to register your attendance.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Moana Jackson

An abstract and further information on Dr Moana Jackson will be available shortly.

Professor Michael Balfour:  The Performance of Listening: Developing a Framework for Arts in Prisons

A key agenda of the arts in prisons is to provide opportunities for creating space for neglected voices and sharing marginalised stories. Yet who is listening and what are the qualities of institutional attention? While the right to be heard and aesthetic calls to listen are key to addressing personal and/or structural injustices, how do these possibilities and tactics translate into something more than a tokenistic echo chamber? Inspired by the recent ‘turn to listening’ this presentation will consider concepts of listening in arts in prison practice, exploring the economies of attention, and potential frameworks through which acts of translation between institutional and aesthetic goals can be negotiated and sustained. The presentation will draw on outcomes from a recent Australian Research Council project, Captive Audiences, which focused on five Australian case studies that used the performing arts in corrections in diverse ways. Emerging from the Captive Audiences research is a practical tool that can assist in the development and management of prison performing arts projects: for arts facilitators it offers a vehicle for reflecting upon the intentions of the project and a language and structure for developing proposals; for correctional managers it offers a framework for understanding the potential contribution of proposed arts projects to the prison, and a language for developing policy and engagement with arts organisations. Further information on the Captive Audiences research can be found here.

Further information on Professor Michael Balfour can be found here.

Dr Amie Dowling and Dr Reggie Daniels:  Boundaries Between Bodies: Incarceration, Transmission, and Performance

The statistics are well known...Today in the United states there are 2.2 million people who are currently incarcerated. 6.2 million on parole and probation's, 64 million people who have criminal records affecting their ability to find housing, receive food stamps, get jobs and vote.  We know that mass incarceration is not just about individual acts of criminality or individual responsibility. Rather, it confirms that the United States’ punishment system is a much larger problem, at the root of which is institutional and racial inequity.  The imprisoned body is one of the primary sites of carceral control, an elaborate choreography of containment and segregation. Behind prison walls, regimented rituals of eating, cleaning, labor and leisure curtail individual freedom of movement in the service of “orderly” systems, notating where and how one moves through space and time, shaping relations between objects, spaces, bodies.  Then how do incarcerated artists create work? How do inside and outside artists, working in an inhumane system, develop a creative process that supports humanity? How do outside artists use their platform to develop work inside facilities that critiques mass imprisonment and its conditions of emergence? How does transmission occur when stage and audience are separated by a system of mass incarceration that disappears certain bodies?  Boundaries Between Bodies will present projects that are striving to begin a collective process of political struggle where inside and outside artists are working side by side for a transformation that addresses the legacies of racism, segregation, disenfranchisement, and mass incarceration.  We hope to smuggle the voices of incarcerated artists out—and to invite you to engage with those in prisons and jails as thinkers and makers.

Further information on Amie Dowling and Reggie Daniels can be found here.

Dr Sarah Woodland and Dr Vicki Saunders:  Listening to Country: Making an Immersive Audio Work with Indigenous Women in Prison

Listening to Country was a pilot project that we delivered in Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre (BWCC), where we worked with women to produce a one-hour immersive audio work based on field recordings of natural environments. The project was built on several years’ engagement with BWCC delivering participatory drama projects, and resulted from a direct request from a group of Aboriginal women to create a culturally appropriate sound recording for the purpose of reducing stress and connecting to country. Indigenous women are over-represented in Australian prisons, with the majority experiencing the trauma associated with separation from children, family, community and country. In creating the immersive audio work with the women, the interdisciplinary team drew on the principles of acoustic ecology - the study of the relationship, mediated through sound, between human beings and their environment. This interdisciplinary field is now documenting the health and wellbeing effects of environmental soundscapes on individuals and communities. The project also drew on Indigenous story work, dadirri (deep, active listening), and arts-led methodologies to facilitate acoustic agency inside the prison. We will play an excerpt of the audio work, and discuss the creative process and outcomes from the project. This will include discussion around the tensions of working with our participatory arts-led methodologies in a correctional context; and the potential for the Listening to Country approach to be used in other correctional and community healing contexts.

Further information on Dr Sarah Woodland and Dr Vicki Saunders can be found here.

Associate Professor Brenda Morrison:  Weaving our Narratives: Amplifying the Social Echo of Restorative Justice

The Achilles heel of restorative justice rests on a dominant narrative: “What’s said in Circle, stays in Circle”.  While there is good reason for this mantra; at the same time, it limits the potential for restorative justice to create a social echo.  This paper will draw on Indigenous practices in Canada that are creating new forms of restorative justice that deepen the praxis through arts and other cultural practices that resonate and amplify effective processes that restore individuals to themselves, their culture and their communities of care.

Further information on Associate Professor Brenda Morrison can be found here.

Dr Juan Tauri:  Suggestions and Strategies for Reducing New Zealand's Prison Population

During his presentation Juan will present an overview of past attempts to review the performance of the New Zealand criminal justice system, and offer a critical analysis of the value and impact of specific policies and interventions that have been introduced in the past 20 years aimed at reducing offending and imprisonment, most especially those focused on the wicked problem of Maori over-representation in the prison population. In the final part of his presentation Juan will identify a number of strategies that will allow government to make a meaningful attempt to reduce New Zealand’s prison population, including arguing for enhanced involvement of community-based providers and justice advocates in the reconfiguration of the criminal justice system.

Further information on Dr Juan Tauri can be found here.

The Conch - Nina Nawalowalo, John Fa'amoana Luafutu and Tom McCrory:  Giving Voice to the Voiceless 

Ground breaking New Zealand theatre company The Conch have pursued a kaupapa of theatre as a force for social change through ‘telling the stories that need to be told”. This has led to acclaimed productions ‘The White Guitar’ and ‘A Boy Called Piano’ which tour nationally through theatres, festivals and prisons. Imprisonment and being placed in state care comes with the removal of the ‘privilege’ of having a voice - yet those removed from society hold the stories which are key to society understanding itself. Revealing these stories, facing their reality and being prepared to have the challenging conversations can be a force for social change.  “Telling the untold stories requires tremendous courage... But Why? Because the truths they tell are hidden. Buried by Shaming. Or suppressed because they reveal truths about a society that is in denial of it’s own story. Gangs, violence, drug addiction, imprisonment, and abuse are hidden stories to those outside this reality. But so is the story of political resistance, the struggle to create a space in which we as Pacific and Maori peoples can even exist. Uprising, creativity, music. The story of reclaiming identity. Taking the daily experience of racism and creating an identity not defined by judgement. In a world where we are told we are ‘beyond redemption’, to be redeemed, becomes a revolutionary act.” - Nina Nawalowalo, Artistic Director.

Further information on The Conch speakers can be found here.


The Symposium programme is in the process of being finalised and will be available to download shortly.

Travel Information

Click here to find information regarding the Massey University Auckland campus, transport and parking facilities.

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey