Creativity, climate and health: Accelerating impact

Image
A young girl sits up in bed with a small panel containing a pressed flower, pointed towards a screen filled with pressed flowers
Biophilia: Bedside Florilegium (2020) by Amy Shelton for Great Ormond Street Hospital

In 2021-22 CHWA led a consortium with London Arts in Health, Arts & Health South West and the NPAG for Arts, Design & Heritage in Healthcare as part of a Julie’s Bicycle Accelerator programme “to advance …sustainable practice and share insights with peers and the wider sector”. We worked with independent researcher Frances Northrop to find out more about organisations who are making connections between creativity and cultural engagement, the climate and environmental crisis, and health and wellbeing. This resource is the outcome.

(It was launched at a free discussion on 18 May 2022 as part of Creativity & Wellbeing Week, which you can watch here.)

 

Why are we providing this resource?

Climate justice and health equity are urgent, intersecting issues. Climate change impacts everything from mental health to respiratory health, and affects people unequally.

Many creative freelancers and organisations already take a holistic approach to health in relation to community and environment. We believe that as more and more people do this, we will be able to  

  • imagine new futures
  • empower changemakers
  • demonstrate sustainable organisational practices
  • reduce demand on polluting and energy-hungry health services

We want to help creative and cultural practitioners directly address the connected issues of climate change, environmental degradation and public health. We are particularly interested in accelerating work that creates concrete change at a local level.

Who is this for?

Creative health practitioners and organisations; funders; commissioning organisations.

What is this for?

We want this resource to be useful to organisations or freelance creatives who are thinking about how to bring climate activism into their work. We want to help people feel more confident discussing climate and health as intersecting issues that can be addressed through creativity.

How can we accelerate our positive impact on health and climate justice?

Here are some ideas that might improve your practice. (These are based on our analysis of five conversations with innovative organisations.)

Ideas for creative health professionals / organisations / freelancers

We encourage freelance creatives and arts and cultural organisations to learn from others already doing this joined-up work. See these case studies for example. There are also numerous tools and policies out there that can help you build you arguments and effect practical change. We have a number of toolkits, and policies and commitments on the CHWA website to get you started. We encourage you to build relationships with other community organisations in your locality so that you can support local solutions (e.g. other creative heath organisations, organisations supporting health in minoritised communities, organisations working to support change in local climate policy). 

Ideas for funders / investors

Developing more equal (peer-to-peer) relationships with your grantees and offering longer-term funding support may provide opportunities to develop the intersectional thinking that informs this kind of work. Organisations also need support to help develop partnerships and networks, and in particular to influence policy. Funders are in a good position to provide opportunities for learning and to showcase inspiring examples of joined up work around climate and health. We also ask that funders prioritise embedded programmes that can effect concrete local change over one-off public events. 

“Life is a holistic experience … [we] draw upon multiple things in order to be human … funders compartmentalise poverty alleviation, arts etc. … we don't see these things as compartmentalised” (excerpt from case study conversation)

Ideas for partners in local authorities or health structures

Some of the organisations we spoke to felt alienated from larger structures (e.g. local authorities). We strongly recommend inviting innovative organisations to decision-making and strategic conversations, and supporting and platforming passionate leaders who are driving grassroots change. Local organisations and freelancers will also benefit from opportunities to learn from other inspiring local work. We would recommend building and invest in an infrastructure for community organisations including cultural organisations to cluster and share responsibility, resources and skills. We also ask that commissioning organisations support collaboration within institutions (see our Bristol case study for an example of good practice.)

Case studies | Policies & commitments | Toolkits & further information

Policies and commitments

Visit this page for government policies and institutional commitments that may support your work with creativity, climate and health.

Toolkits and further information

Visit this page for toolkits and other resources that might support your work with creativity, climate and health.