a photo of clean break members and staff sitting at a table and talking animatedly, they are working together

HOPE: A Spotlight On Co-creation

In co-creation there is equality, connection and fairness, core principles of Clean Break’s practice. All participants mutually benefit from the process, all are seen, heard and valued. Creating work with, not for, the women we support, whilst ensuring that lived experience guides all areas of our work, has always been central to our mission.

As we look back on the last two years, we must reflect on how the pandemic has compounded the disadvantage that women who are caught up in the criminal justice system, or those at risk of entering it, experience. Beyond the impact it has had on exacerbating the issues our Members face - poverty, homelessness, racism, abuse, addiction, mental and physical ill-health – we must also consider whose stories have become lost in the noise.

As we return to producing work post-pandemic, our priority is to embed co-creation across all areas of the organisation and ensure that the voices and experiences of our Members are at the heart of all our work. With our platform, we are powerfully placed to amplify these voices and experiences, breaking the bias and shifting attitudes around the criminalisation of women.

Anna Herrmann, Joint Artistic Director of Clean Break, comments:

“At Clean Break co-creation is the practice of bringing together women artists and Clean Break Members to collaborate, recognising that every individual in the space has a unique value to contribute to the collective endeavour.

The particular nature of our co-creation process aims to centre Members lived experience, and ensure they have agency and power over the telling of their stories and the shape of the work, which can more traditionally reside in the hands of the artists.

For the artist involved it is necessary to understand the power and privilege that is at play and actively decentre themselves. For all involved it is a process of generosity and reciprocity. It is an expression of both activism and art, interconnected and interdependent.”

Our First Digital Co-created Project

HOPE will not only showcase our Members’ talent, creativity and skills, but it will be one of the first pieces of work created under a new framework which centres co-creation.

"The process felt equal and collaborative. I loved the conversations we were having and though I missed socialising in person it was great to re-connect online." - Member and HOPE Research & Development Participant.

Members will collaborate with leading women artists to create the pieces using ‘hope’ as the catalyst together, with Members’ voices at the centre of the whole artistic process. Members will learn new skills from industry professions in digital theatre, film and production skills, and leading artists will benefit from the collaborative, creative exchange. These pieces will be filmed and edited together into a film which will be streamed online over a two-week period later this year, engaging audiences in the search for a more radical and active expression of hope in troubling times.

This project will create a legacy at Clean Break, as we can use the learning and successes from HOPE to plan and build other co-created projects.

If you would like to make HOPE a reality, please consider giving what you can to our Women and Girls Match Fund campaign. All donations will be gratefully received and doubled until Tuesday 22 March 12pm, until we reach our target of £50,000.