CHWA 2021 Awards Shortlist: Practising Well


Practitioner wellbeing is a recurring concern and priority for us all. Working in collaboration with Nicola Naismith(Artist/Researcher and author of the ‘Artists Practising Well Report), this award aims to focus on practice that is leading the way in championing, delivering and embedding practitioner care into project design, commissioning and management. 

We invited artists or museum/heritage practitioners to nominate commissioners, employers, peers or organisations who are supporting practitioners and creating conditions that nurture better wellbeing and enable everyone to practice well.

Fresh Arts, North Bristol NHS Trust nominated by Sophie Dunn (Live Music Now)

 “I don’t think we have ever been so well taken care of.” (Flaugissimo Duo)

Because Fresh Arts take care of all practicalities, musicians feel safe (including during the pandemic), supported and freed to focus on performance. Regular sessions, training and sensitive feedback build skills and confidence."

Sophie Dunn (Live Music), Nominee

Fresh Arts is the arts programme for North Bristol NHS Trust. Their vision is to harness the power of creativity and the arts, making a positive difference to patients, visitors and staff.

Fresh Arts output is structured across four pillars of activity; Arts on Referral, Arts on Wards, Visual Arts & Exhibitions and Live Music, with a foundation built on addressing staff wellbeing, strengthening and informing every element of our practice.

Fresh Arts's high quality, collaborative and engaging programme boosts health and wellbeing, putting the hospital at the heart of its communities.

Through this work they are hugely privileged to support a large team of incredibly skilled volunteers, freelance artists, musicians and contractors. Practitioner support is central to the success of the programme. Artist wellbeing is never a bolt on or optional extra; it is a core value that we pride ourselves on upholding to the highest standards possible.

" Everyone at North Bristol NHS Trust Fresh Arts is absolutely delighted to be nominated for this award. Practitioner wellbeing has always been at the heart of our practice. Now more than ever this is extremely important. We know how hard things have been for our freelance artists and contractors over the last twelve months, so have tried incredibly hard to support them in every way possible. After an exceptionally difficult year, being recognised in this way means an enormous amount."

Laura Tanner, Music Manager – NBT Fresh Arts

GEM One to One Mentoring Programme nominated by Sarah English (Birmingham Museums)

" Making connections, being part of a supportive network and building positive new relationships has been invaluable for my wellbeing, identity, self- worth and professional confidence during a difficult period. I have gained new skills and feel prepared to now tackle the challenges and changes that are ahead."

Sarah English (Birmingham Museums), Nominee

Described as a “beacon of light during lockdown”, GEM (Group for Education in Museums aims to support and empower our community of colleagues to connect and develop their knowledge and skills to deliver learning.

In 2020 and continuing into 2021, GEM has provided support to over 100 museum and heritage professionals through the introduction of the One to One Mentoring Programme. Additionally, GEM has been able to upskill the sector by offering training opportunities to 3,254 participants compared with 368 the year before.

Museums have provided an essential service during lockdown to assist with home learning and home schooling. As we move from lockdown to recovery, GEM will be supporting museums to work collaboratively with their local communities, ensuring that a wider range of people are empowered to contribute to how the heritage of their area is managed and developed.

“GEM is absolutely delighted to have received a nomination for the CHWA 2021 Awards. GEM provides a collaborative space in which everyone involved in learning can connect and learn together, this has been more important than ever during the unpredictable events of 2020. We are proud of the impact that our One to One Mentoring Programme has made on all the learning professionals that have taken part and are so thankful to all of the volunteers that have contributed their time and efforts to making a difference.” 

Kazzum Arts nominated by Lisa Hayes

" Participatory work is about connecting with others but as a freelance arts facilitator, it can sometimes be isolating. Kazzum has supported my practice and development by giving me a real sense of community. I feel listened to, valued, trusted and excited that I work here."

Lisa Hayes, Nominee

Kazzum Arts are an Arts and Health charity for Children and Young People. Our trauma-informed projects support creativity to flourish within hospitals, refugee settings, PRU’s, schools and online. 

We recognise the risks that our workforce face and so offer therapeutic opportunities for our Staff team, freelance Artists and Trustees to develop and embed practical approaches when stewarding trauma.  We employ registered psychotherapists to conduct group and individual Reflective Practice sessions, use coaching techniques across the organisation and provide access to an EAP for our workforce and their households too. 

These forms of support are accounted for within our strategic vision and fundraising activities and are a central part of our identity and daily working practices.

In addition to this, we provide regular paid professional development opportunities and create free resources for our Artists and the wider sector to support emotional regulation, creativity and wellbeing to thrive within trauma impacted environments. 

" It is deeply touching and encouraging for our work to be highlighted as an example of best practice in this area. We are committed to offering the highest standards of support for Artists and to developing of these approaches across the sector. Thank you to everyone who inform our ongoing journey to health."

Opus Music CIC nominated by Sarah Matthews

“The work generated during this COVID lockdown time by OPUS Music CIC has been crucial to my financial buoyancy, emotional stability, creative sense of worth and mental health.  My skills have developed, confidence increased in technical areas, and emotional connection with regular audiences maintained throughout.”

Sarah Matthews, nominee

OPUS Music is a UK leader in music-making within health and social care, for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of patients and residents, their families and carers, and the healthcare professionals who support them.  We provide Music in Healthcare practice, training for healthcare professionals and musicians, and advocacy for the increased use of music within health and social care.

The Musician in Healthcare role is one which necessitates deep connection with the patient, facilitated by music-making.  The pandemic, and resulting loss in these daily connections could have been devastating for our community of musicians.  We chose to invest in our team, to support the development of digital skills through the provision of paid time, resources and collaboration.  This has resulted in a healthy, inspired workforce, a continued and highly valued connection with the healthcare communities they serve, and a bright future for OPUS.

‘We are thrilled to have been nominated for this award.  We’re delighted that the value of investing in our team of musicians has been recognised in this way, and that we stand here today with a team who have been supported throughout the pandemic, facilitated to meet challenge with skilled enthusiasm, rather than wallowing in the limitations of the now.  We go forward as a team with renewed energy and optimism.’ 

Nick Cutts, Chief Executive

Soundcastle nominated by Caoimhe de Paor

"I feel inspired to do more of this work in the real world and feel so much more confident in being able to call myself a facilitator (rather than a teacher)." Caiomhe de Paor, nominator

Practitioner wellbeing is at the heart of Soundcastle culture. We support our team in navigating their work in complex settings by holding paid spaces for reflective practice around all programme delivery and making sure a member of our co-director/ coaching team is always available. We offer sessions with an external supervisor to further support wellbeing and personal development and advocate across the sector for this important role.

We host The Soundcastle Community - a free online membership space in which community musicians are safe to be vulnerable and explore their experiences without judgement. This space includes a range of activities including; Connecting Chats & Connecting Questions - video interviews with community musicians, Book Club - video interviews with academics, Community Cuppa - a weekly tea break and safe space to share, alongside regular training and coaching programmes to support professional development and resilience.

"This nomination has come at the perfect time for Soundcastle. We have spent much of the past 10 years exploring how to best support facilitators, and this past year has shone an even brighter light on this practice. Huge thanks to our nominee and everyone who has supported us on this journey; funders, partners, practitioners and community members. Your energy has given us the strength and belief to keep powering on, both creating spaces and advocating for reflective practice."

Thriving Facilitators nominated by Ally Walsh

" Dilemmas that emerge out of practice are so rarely a shared burden: Thriving Facilitators is an enormous source of high quality support in reevaluating motivations, barriers and personal development. Sheila is an outstanding practitioner of care, heart-centred reflexive practice and supports her members to thrive."

Ally Walsh, nominee

Thriving Facilitators is an online practice that operates on a few different levels of accessibility: with a free support group with challenges (ranging from imposter syndrome to thriving) to a membership community of professional practitioners at all career stages. Dr Sheila Preston (founder) hosts group discussions, book club sessions and supervision sessions and holds accountability structures for the members to engage in reflexive practice.

The sessions are congenial, supportive and engaging of people from recent graduates to scholar/practitioners and there is a deep sense of confidence, trust and shared endeavour emerging. The mix of people enables engaging and lively conversation, and the online formats (across facebook, zoom and a web platform) mean that it is accessible asynchronously enabling members to engage in a way that suits their needs.

" We are delighted to receive a nomination for the practising well, artist wellbeing award. Thriving Facilitators is committed to offering affordable wellbeing support, supervision and community support to artists and practitioners working in community and educational settings often in difficult settings with adversity. Being nominated for this award means that we can increase our visibility and impact and support a wider range of practitioners who stand to benefit from this provision"

Shelia Preston