Blog

We're sharing here a few blogs and articles from people who have been taking a step back and reflecting on the experience and implications of covid-19. First, Francois Matarasso has written three blogs considering amongst other things Arts Council England's response to the situation, and meditating on offline solutions.
While great strides have been taken in research into participant experiences of Arts in Health, there has so far been very little exploration of practitioners’ perspectives (Naismith, 2019). This study will investigate the experiences of Arts in Health practitioners/ artists working in health, social care and participatory settings.
From Monday January 27 until Friday January 31 2020 professionals from Belgium, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong, Italy, United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Canada gathered at Great Museum North: Hancock in Newcastle for a unique training week on the deployment of cultural heritage for outreach activities with a focus on wellbeing. It was very intense and busy, but I am trying to summarize this week in a nutshell.
As many of you will have seen, Arts Council England has published its new strategy: Let's Create. Like the National Lottery Heritage Fund's strategic funding framework (published last year) it is full of references to health and wellbeing. This has not come from nowhere. The Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance would like to acknowledge the hard work of all our members and partners, and everyone else who took part in the ACE consultation process, whether they went to meetings or responded online, and made the case for considering health and wellbeing, as well as supporting the broader shift towards inclusive, participatory creative and cultural practice. All this has led to what Nicholas Serota refers to in his introduction as "the dissolving of barriers between artists and the audiences with whom they interact".
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Hear and Now 2019 in Bedford, co-produced by Orchestras Live and the Philharmonia Orchestra © Beth Walsh
There is now substantial research and evidence, which shows that taking part in performing arts activity brings benefits for older people living longer. TV programmes such as the BBC’s Our Dementia Choir illustrate beautifully the power music can have in reducing the impact of symptoms such as depression and agitation, and in turn the isolation that those living with dementia feel. These improvements in quality of life can often be greater than any symptom control provided by drugs, which are hugely expensive to the NHS over the lifespan of an individual’s illness.
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"D-iagnosis", an image of two faces representing anguish after a dementia diagnosis, and the potential for engaging with the arts to create a more positive state of mind
“D-IAGNOSIS! Arts to Preserve Wellbeing” has been commissioned from artist Jane Frere by Arts 4 Dementia.
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a young man and an older woman laughing together
Live Music Now: LIBOR concerts 2017-18
by Alan Dix, Artistic Director 509 Arts This was originally a talk given by Alan at the Creative Arts and Dementia Conference, MAC Birmingham, on 24 September 2019. The featured image above is from Live Music Now's LIBOR concerts.
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Lucy Suggate's swarm sculptures (sculptures made of people) for Yorkshire Dance, photo by Andy Wood
Yorkshire Dance: Lucy Suggate's Swarm Sculptures at Juncture 2016 ©AndyWood
For the last 18 months I have had the pleasure of working with the World Health Organisation on their developing agenda around arts and health. This month, we have released the largest evidence report ever published on arts and health.
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Hold Exhibition at FACT Liverpool, by Invisible Flock, images Ed Waring
Hold Exhibition at FACT Liverpool, by Invisible Flock, images Ed Waring
"This is why we use technology and are constantly drawn back to it, by thinking of it in a malleable way, like a medium, it allows us to uncover new aesthetics and new ways to approach conversations and real world interactions."
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People taking part in the Spaces Between Walk (Creative Recovery) with Barnsley Town Hall in the background
Spaces Between Walk (Creative Recovery); photo by Charlotte Armitage
A few things you need to know about Barnsley… We are a town born of industrious makers, grafters, rebels, campaigners and creatives. 
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Millions of people in the UK can have significant difficulty in accessing museums and other cultural venues
Morgan Salisbury, Meltdown Tracker
A blog by Morgan Salisbury You’re walking round a museum, and the noise in the entrance area echoes and makes you feel like you’re in a swimming pool of random noises, pain jutting at your ears. You turn your collar up and think about getting out the ear defenders buried at the bottom of your rucksack, then realise there’s no room to put your bag down to rummage.
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Brightly coloured sculpture - Land Sea Light Koan by Liliane Lijn
Land Sea Light Koan by Liliane Lijn
I write this short reflective piece as I retire from my role as manager of Healing Arts for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust at the end of August 2019, having arrived to work with the then Isle of Wight Health Authority in June 1986.
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photograph by Trish Thompson of the audience laughing at a Creative Arts East touring event during Creativity & Wellbeing Week 2019
Audience at Creative Arts East touring event. Photo: Trish Thompson
‘There is growing evidence that engagement in activities like dance, music, drama, painting and reading help ease our minds and heal our bodies. It is most encouraging to see just how much potential and ambition there is for joined up action on this vital work in Norfolk.’ Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England.
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A photograph of two people as part of a Singing in Care Homes project by Live Music Now and Creative Inspiration Shropshire Community Interest Company
Singing in Care Homes; Live Music Now and Creative Inspiration Shropshire Community Interest Company
We like big numbers here at BBC Music Day HQ. 14 million on radio. 13 million on TV. 1000 live music events across the UK. 100 external partners. 100 BBC production teams across TV, radio and digital. And we want to build on that this year – with your help.
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Tin Arts performing at Cultures of Health & Wellbeing national conference
Tin Arts performing at Cultures of Health & Wellbeing (21-22 March 2019, Greant North Museum: Hancock)
I have been thinking about cooperation a lot lately. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is a small organisation in terms of resource – but in terms of partnership and collaboration its reach is enormous. Over 3,000 people have now signed up as members, along with almost 70 partner organisations.
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Messages left on the grass wall in 'Nature Calls' - the finale exhibition of Paintings in Hospitals 'Art in Large Doses' project - Photo by Glenn Michael Harper
Messages left on the grass wall in 'Nature Calls' - the finale exhibition of Paintings in Hospitals 'Art in Large Doses' project - Photo by Glenn Michael Harper
The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is a national organisation representing everyone who believes that cultural engagement and participation can transform our health and wellbeing. We are developing a new statement of values and would like your help to answer the following questions:
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Lucy Suggate's swarm sculptures (sculptures made of people) for Yorkshire Dance, photo by Andy Wood
Yorkshire Dance: Lucy Suggate's Swarm Sculptures at Juncture 2016 ©AndyWood
Matt Hancock’s speech on 6 November – ‘The power of the arts and social activities to improve the nation’s health’ – is enormously significant.
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A brightly coloured Sand Mandala
Victoria Hume
The UN has told us that we have 12 years to sort out climate change. This is the largest health and wellbeing – and indeed cultural – challenge we face.