Practitioner support

Illustration demonstrating self care strategies
Illustrations by Robin Lane-Roberts for Kazzum Arts

We know from our members that creative freelancers and organisations delivering culture and creativity for health and wellbeing - and in fact all socially engaged creative work - need more help to do their work in a healthy and sustainable way. Nicola Naismith's research 2019 report Artists Practising Well reflected a wider need across museums, heritage and freelance practice for logistical and emotional support. This has been backed up by our own sector surveys in 2020 and 2021.

This resource recognises that the wellbeing of the culture, health and wellbeing workforce and the communities it serves requires a combined and shared effort. It brings together a range of ideas, opportunities and networks focused on practitioner support. We will be discussing this in more detail at a number of workshops over the coming months, beginning with a #CreativeNetwork - Wellbeing session in collaboration with Creative Lives, 1-2pm on 25 October.

If we are to work effectively to support health and wellbeing, practitioner support must be embedded in funding structures. All commissioning organisations must put plans in place to support freelancers. See our short report on the Practising Well Award, below, for ideas on how to do this.

Please get in touch at if you would like to promote any practice and thinking in this area on this page.

The resource includes a selection of GIFS from Kazzum Arts' animation, Supporting professionals impacted by Trauma


CHWA initiatives

What can we learn from the Practising Well Award?

Devised in collaboration with Nicola Naismith, our annual Practising Well Award celebrates organisations nominated by practitioners for embedding practitioner care into project design, commissioning and management.

The document below summarises and provides a brief analysis of the support offers from shortlisted programmes and projects.

This document will provide guidance for employers and commissioners considering their support offers and for funders hoping to understand more about what constitutes good practice. You can read more about the awards themselves further down on this page.

Creative Well

In response to a series of conversations with Yorkshire and Humber members in June/July 2020, CHWA Regional Champions Deborah Munt and Sue Mackay collaborated with integrative arts psychotherapist Roshmi Lovatt to design Creative Well, a pilot programme supporting practitioner wellbeing.

Read the first version of the report, here.

We are currently fundraising to roll this programme out.

Mutual Support at the CHWA 2021 conference

Mutual Support was one of the four themes of our April 2021 conference, A Culture of Care. Head to the Mutual Support Padlet which was populated by panellists and attendees of the CHWA 2021 National Conference, A Culture of Care. 

Research, Resources and Blogs



Artists Practising Well Report by Nicola Naismith

This report recognises that the practitioner, commissioner, organisational leader, funder and policy-maker all have roles to play in the health and wellbeing of creative practitioners, supporting them in their making of quality work. 

Becoming trauma-informed as an arts and mental health organisation: our journey so far - Alex Evans, Kazzum Arts

Alex Evans, Artistic Director at Kazzum Arts, explains the impact taking a trauma-informed approach has had on their arts work with children & young people, staff and artists, and throughout the organisation. Published by The Baring Foundation, June 2021

Creatively Minded and Practising Well (November 2021)

Over the last 18 months, The Baring Foundation have been looking at the issue of artists' mental health and what they can do to support the artists they fund. David Cutler sets out where they have got to in this work and what's next.

The Support Hub Report 2021

Throughout 2020-21 the Arts & Health Hub provided an innovative support project for artists working in the sector. In response to a survey during the first COVID wave, they secured ACE funding to support the immediate needs of artists in our network.

The Circle of Care Framework: Performing Medicine and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Trust.

Circle of Care re-envisions compassionate healthcare by describing a multi-directional flow of care between healthcare professionals and their colleagues, patients and carers. The model also positions ‘self-care’ – the way healthcare professionals care for themselves – as fundamental to achieving effective healthcare. 

LAHWN Workforce Wellbeing and Development

Head to the Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network's resource on Workforce Wellbeing and Development resource, providing insights for the arts, health and the arts and health sector.

Manifesto for a mentally healthy cultural sector

Creative Freedom’s Manifesto for a mentally healthy cultural sector falls under five headings: provide first aid, remove stigma, be vigilant, reduce risk and offer support.

Julia Fortier: Creative Facilitation for Health and Wellbeing

Research participants in Julia's work have been sharing their pre-COVID-19 facilitation experiences, and practice changes since the pandemic by participating in an online discussion group, a focus group, or in interviews.

AUE Good Practice Charter for Artists

Artists Union England's good practice charter focuses on Valuing and Rewarding Artists; Health & Safety; Workers' Collective Voice; Diversity & Equality; Mental Health & Wellbeing in the workplace; and Social Responsibility. The pdf also links to further helpful resources.

What's the benefit? Supporting disabled artists who are on benefits

Here is a blog and resource from Unlimited from August 2021. They contracted Alistair Gentry, freelance artist, writer, and former Unlimited trainee, to undertake some investigation what is happening and what everyone can do now...

Dwell Awhile; a series of podcasts by Dwell Time in partnership with the Yorkshire Visual Arts Network

Peer-nominated artists to talk about their art practice, the contentiously uncritical term ‘resilience’, mental wellbeing and the impact of Covid-19 on their practice.

Performance for Care

Performance for Care advocates for the integration of arts and creativity within healthcare education and professional development. The collaboration is led by Dr Alex Mermikides (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) and Dr Sara Donetto (King’s College London), and it has a particular focus on performance (theatre and dance) in nursing.

How ya doing? Mae’n Mynd? Wales Arts, Health & Wellbeing Network Artists Wellbeing Programme.

A short film with the findings from  WAHWN 's recent consultation for the How Ya Doing? Sut Mae’n Mynd? Artists Wellbeing Programme.


Artists on the frontline – what support is available for artists’ wellbeing?

The Barings Foundation's Harriet Lowe authored this article in Autumn 2020 in response to the the raising issue of practitioner wellbeing in the arts & (mental) health field, with the impact of COVID-19.

Opportunities and Networks



Arts & Health Hub

The London based hub runs events and workshops, offers peer support, commissions creatives & manages an online community of likeminded artists.


GLAM Cares

A care and support network for Gallery, Library, Archives and Museum community engagement professionals. GLAM Cares aims to provide peer support, networking and training. 


Regional CHWA Activities

Our regional champions are developing different offers responding to regional needs, including practitioner wellbeing.To find out more about your region and champions, click here 

To make sure you get regional updates, please do sign up to be a CHWA member on the link below ( it's free!)

#CreativeNetwork- Wellbeing

CHWA is partnering with Creative Lives (formerly Voluntary Arts) #CreativeNetwork series of discussions and sharing events to offer #CreativeNetwork - Wellbeing; a monthly conversation, providing the chance to exchange experiences, encourage peer support for practitioner and facilitator wellbeing and share good practice 

MOT For Musicians in Working in Challenging Settings, Britten Pear Arts

Britten Pear Arts' MOT For Musicians Working in Challenging Settings programme was shortlisted for the CHWA Practising Well Award in 2020. 



Wales Arts Health and Wellbeing Network (WAHWN) and How ya Doing? Sut Mae'n Mynd programme?

The Wales Arts Health and Well-being Network (WAHWN) is a rapidly expanding network of colleagues delivering arts and health work in Wales.  They are currently developing the 'How ya doing? Sut Mae'n Mynd?' Artist wellbeing programme.

Here are the 3 main strands of activity:

  • Creative Peer Support (starts week beg 29 Nov)
  • Creative Reflective Practice (starts Jan 2022)
  • Group coaching (starts Jan 2022)

GEM: One to One Mentoring Programme

This mentoring programme is open to GEM members, of any age/skill level, who have a learning role in museums and heritage sites and is generously supported by Nimrod Capital and The Linbury Trust.

Train with Kazzum Arts

Kazzum's distinctive training sessions introduce practitioners and organisations to the key principles within a trauma-informed approach.  

QUAD Practitioner Support Programme

The QUAD are planning a 5-day programme that aims to support artists to nurture their own wellbeing and creativity. This will run on Sundays from Oct 24- November 21st.

There is a fee for this course. Bursaries are available. Read more here

Free support for Birmingham based lead artists and projects

Free support for Birmingham based lead artists and projects working with vulnerable clients when delivering activities against health and wellbeing outcomes in Birmingham.

This innovative project is a collaboration between Birmingham City Council Cultural Development Service and Birmingham Centre for Art Therapies.

The Soundcastle Community

The Soundcastle Community is an online network of creative music practitioners and a place to connect and reflect with others and share the challenges and successes of your work. Within the community there are a team of hosts and moderators to ensure you feel welcome and that the space is safe for everyone’s voice to be heard.

Thriving Facilitators

Thriving Facilitators is a unique membership community that offers affordable support, supervision and training to an international network of practitioners from all over the world. 

If you would like to keep updated about when membership opens, click here 

Dr Sheila Preston, founder of Thriving Facilitators, runs regular free challenges and workshops and there are also free resources on her website.

Inc Arts Minds

Ethnically diverse people – whether they are of African or Asian diasporas, or anywhere else in the world – are seriously affected by the attitudes and behaviours of others.  

Inc Arts Minds have partnered with Chanua Health to provide FREE group therapy led by qualified counsellors  for people who have experienced racism to share their experiences and heal.

The Flourishing Lives Reflective Practice Groups

The online groups are aimed at arts, health and wellbeing professionals and offer support and a space to explore and learn with other practitioners working in arts, health and wellbeing settings.

Please contact with any questions. Flourishing Lives want to run these groups in a way that suits practitioners and value feedback.

Mental Health First Aid Training

Become more aware of mental health and equip yourself with the tools to understand and support   your own and others' mental health. This course can support workplaces and practitioners.

Read more about the Mental Health First Aid Training Framework here.

Creative Futures: Arts & Health Network, Brighton & Hove

A network for Brighton & Hove based freelance artists & health practitioners working in the Arts & Health Sector. The network will meet quarterly and also provide a monthly programme of peer-support activities curated around themes that matter to practitioners.

Scottish Mental Health Arts Network

The Mental Health Arts Network is an idea that has been developing for some time. In 2021, with support from the Baring Foundation, the Mental Health Foundation have teamed up with See Me, Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, to explore what form it might take.


CHWA Practising Well Award

Winner: Kazzum Arts (2021)

Practical offers of support:

  • Independent coaching sessions
  • Individual and group supervision
  • Monthly group reflective practice sessions
  • Employee Assistance Programme with optional free counselling sessions
  • In-house training for all freelancers and the sector
  • Practitioners paid to engage in support and professional development activities

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.”

Quote from nominating practitioner

Winner: Plymouth Music Zone (2020)

Practical offers of support:

  • Support Hub:
    • Shadowing opportunities
    • peer-to-peer support
    • snapshot observations
    • supervision
    • Music leader days (general themes)
  • Skills pods (specialist areas)
  • Pastoral support - trained counsellor available
  • Practitioners paid to engage in support activities

It is extremely helpful and encouraging to know that we are not isolated in our work. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated in the emotional backdrop of what we do. It is also really important that we are ‘fed’ by interesting, motivational and current thinking that supports our work.”

Quote from nominating practitioner


In the last decade, social support has fallen increasingly to civil society. The 'frontline' now includes many people working with the arts and culture - from freelance artists to librarians. As inequalities rise, we know that the people we work with are in increasingly complex and vulnerable positions. The need for support has been exacerbated by a pandemic that has exposed and heightened existing inequalities and therefore the challenges faced by workers in this field.

This resource recognises that the wellbeing of the culture, health and wellbeing workforce and the communities it serves requires a combined and shared effort.

This effort needs to honour individual lived experience and collective trauma, promote equity and recognise individual choice alongside building community and sector resilience.

We aim to broaden the definition of practitioner wellbeing to acknowledge the needs of all practitioners in this field, from freelance artists/ consultants to senior leaders, from link workers to volunteers. We are all important parts of the ecology and at the alliance are keen to promote and support initiatives that are working to support all practiceOur broader aim is to move towards a culture of care that acknowledges that support must be a mutual effort. Commissioners, partners, participants, funders and practitioners all need to be invested in this culture of care for each other.

We believe that practitioner wellbeing also needs to be embedded in to the bigger questions and actions relating to determining quality, nurturing sustainability and driving innovation.