Kestrel Theatre Company Artistic Director Vacancy

Job Description

Kestrel Theatre Company is dedicated to working creatively with people in the criminal justice system. Kestrel projects put arts professionals (theatre directors, actors, filmmakers, musicians, designers etc) together with people in prison (or who have recently been released), to produce new and original work, usually for filmed or live performance. We believe that working creatively with professionals can transform the lives of people in prison. By empowering them to express themselves in a non- judgmental, collaborative and enabling environment, the expectation is that they produce work of the highest standard. Ultimately we hope that what they learn within the supportive space of the project, they can take with them into the outside world, giving them a better chance of a positive future.

We have latterly worked with several prisons in Buckinghamshire: HMP Grendon and Springhill, HMP Bullingdon and HMYOI Aylesbury. But there are significant opportunities to develop relationships with other prisons.

Right up until lockdown, we were in the process of delivering a range of different projects inside and outside prisons. Our goal is to deliver at least four major projects a year. In the summer of 2018, for instance, we staged a two week run at The Royal Court Theatre in London of Broken Dreams, a drama co-written and performed by men from HMP Springhill. It was our second production to be staged at the theatre.

Then there were the nine weeks of playwriting workshops delivered at HMP Grendon in 2019, which resulted in readings from professional actors of the finished pieces to an appreciative audience of over 100 prisoners and officers. In 2019 we also filmed a collection of story DVD’s with puppets for the families of prisons in both Grendon and HMP Bullingdon and delivered a lengthy run of the successful weekly Drama Club in Springhill. Plus,, in collaboration with the music charity The Irene Taylor Trust, we staged two original pantomimes to residents’ families at Springhill in 2018 and 2019.

During lockdown we haven’t stopped. Although unable to access prisons, we have continued to send resources to those inside (some of which were used by institutions as far away as New Zealand). Plus we have worked with Kestrel alumni to perform After Time – a series of monologues about life after prison, on Zoom. A second After Time will be performed on March 28.

Here’s what some of those involved have to say about Kestrel’s projects:

“Your work at Grendon and Springhill has been among the highlights of my seven years here. You really have worked some form of magic.”
Jamie Bennett, Ex Governor HMP Grendon and Springhill.

“The world needs more people like you. What you have done for us as a group is invaluable, I’m not sure if you even understand how empowering the work you do is……anyway keep going because you are changing lives, FACT!!!!”
Ricardo, Actor and co-writer on Broken Dreams.

Now, as we seek to consolidate and expand on past achievements, we are looking for an artistic director/producer to work with us on a flexible, part-time basis. 

The key responsibilities of the job:

  • Keep an open dialogue with the prisons we work with and continue to develop and nurture relationships with them.
  • Create and deliver an innovative programme of projects
  • Develop relationships with arts professionals and organisations keen to work within the criminal justice system
  • Manage the creative administration of the charity
  • Play a key role in the fundraising strategy


  • Generate ideas for the three or four projects we deliver annually
  • Maintain good relations with Governors/Officers in prisons to make these happen
  • Connect with the security departments in prisons to ensure all Kestrel facilitators have up to date security clearances
  • Work with other organisations in and out of prison to develop co productions
  • Plan, staff and administer the projects
  • Ensure all staff are aware of the Kestrel methodology and procedures for working in prisons
  • Look after project budgets
  • Write project evaluations
  • Develop relationships with other prisons
  • Attend Board meetings
  • Run fundraising initiatives
  • Ensure that the artists we work with reflect the diversity of the people we engage with in prison
  • Develop and build up a database of artists associated with the charity
  • Be an advocate for the charity and attend Arts in Criminal Justice events where possible.

We are looking for someone:

  • Who has a passion for using the arts as a way of reaching people on the margins
  • Who has professional experience of producing and/or directing theatre and/or film
  • With knowledge of best practice in outreach programmes
  • Who has a proactive attitude
  • Who is confident in dealing with people from all backgrounds
  • Who has experience of fundraising

Remuneration and working practice

Kestrel is a small charity wholly funded by donations from trusts and individuals. We do not have any office infrastructure and currently have no PAYE employees. Kestrel works closely with a team of highly engaged professional freelancers – our Associate Artists – and a hands on and supportive board. The newly appointed artistic director would be expected to work from home, providing an average of one day a week to work with the board of trustees to administer the charity. For this we are offering a fee of £10,000 per year. There will also be the opportunity for the artistic director to engage directly with the three or four projects we deliver each year, paid additionally, according to the available budget.

For further information about Kestrel and its work visit our website 

Kestrel is committed to diversity and equality in its workforce, we are particularly keen to hear from applicants who have experienced barriers in the arts industry due to ethnicity, gender, class, disability etc. or have lived experience of the Criminal Justice System. If you have any access requirements or you or anyone you know would like this application in a different format please

We are hoping to appoint the new artistic director towards the end of May 2021, with a view to starting work at the end of June, to enable us to be ready and prepared to seize the initiative as lockdown eases. 

If you think you are the person who could help lead Kestrel into the next phase of its development, then send an email to explaining precisely what you could bring to the role. Don’t forget to attach a CV. Closing date 24 April 2021. Good luck.