Blog

As we said back in January with our colleagues at London Arts and Health, we are organisations devoted to health, wellbeing and equity; and we’re watching these concepts devastated e
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An olive skinned woman with dark, curly, brown hair wearing a bright fushia dress sitting on a blue chair outside smiling
Lydia is a multi-disciplinary artist and activist based in London, who's work focuses on building life-affirming relations and systems through radical creativity and collaboration.
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close-up photo of a person with medium-length blond hair smiling ino the camera with a door frame behind them
Louise Campion is Head of Learning & Engagement at the Holburne Museum in Bath and the new Project Lead for our Working Together Programme in collaborations with GEM (Group for Education in Museums). Find out what a day in her life looks like.
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A young muslim woman smiling wearing a black hijab and a red top playing a brown guitar
Funded by Youth Music and BBC Children in Need, the Sonic Minds programme supports young people at elevated risk of experiencing a mental health issue.
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an abstract digital artwork with a dark background featuring bright prin, blues and fine points of yellow light in the centre
‘Untitled’ By Casey Francis (Mad Truth)
...through creativity we can transform adversity to beauty and in the process transform ourselves. We can create our own lives as if we are creating a work of art. Instilled within all of our experience are layers of meaning, understanding and connection. Art is empathy, it is communication. Art allows us to step outside of ourselves, and see something inside that we could not recognise because of our external circumstances, our pain, our fear, our doubt.
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A photograph of the sea with a bird flying just above it
The horror of what’s unfolding in Gaza and Israel is affecting us all, whether we are trying to work around it or are deeply engaged. Whenever there is a terrible event, it undermines normal life – when we don’t speak about it, some part of us is always managing this absence. But to speak about it is painful, and complex.
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B&W photograph of a white woman with long mousey blonde hair smiling sitting in a chair
Alexis Butt has recently joined our team of Regional Champions, with over 20 years experience of working in arts and culture and currently working as a General Manager for the NCCH, she shares what a typical day for her looks like.
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White woman with dark brown hair wearing a chequered beige shirt facing the camera smiling in front of a brick wall.
Evaluator, researcher and educator, Siân Hunter Dodsworth, talks to us about her exploration of artistic, cultural and heritage practice in improving health and wellbeing both in Mexico and here in the UK.
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Illustration of a watering can watering a flower with a face on.
The National Centre for Creative Health (NCCH) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG AHW) launched the report of the Creative Health Review on 6th December 2023.
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Picture of a woman with black hair pointing at a colourful piece of paper on a wall in a classroom setting
By Dr Katey Warran, Research Fellow in the Social Biobehavioural Research Group at University College London and Deputy Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arts & Health
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A person making a colourful banner that reads 'We Need A Change'
Michael Aiden Photography
It’s been just over month since The Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance came together with over 300 colleagues, in Barnsley and online, to host the Making Change national conference. Here we reflect on the event, our findings, and our plans for the future.
Black History Month 2023 is a time for progressive reflection, it presents the opportunity to experience events, discussions and more around the country that enable us to mark the historical contexts of black culture whilst celebrating it's non-monolithic evolution to the present day. 
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Black and white logo with black text
​​What do we owe future generations?​ How do we create a sustainable space for our collections and the planet?​ How to discuss this with different audiences?” Topics explored in 'The Crying Child: On Colonial Archives, Digitization and Ethics of Care in the Cultural Commons', by Temi Odumosu. The fact we still have work to do is exciting. Our collections continue to grow, and we encourage everyone to think about their history and their stories.
Our hope was that, by developing set of Quality Principles and offering clear guidance on how to use them, The Creative Health Quality Framework would inspire the best possible experiences and outcomes for everyone involved in Creative Health work. What I hadn’t expected was just how much the process of developing the Framework would impact me and my practice! Using the eight Quality Principles as a structure for reflection, I have taken a moment to pause and consider what the process of working on this project has meant to me.
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banner featuring icons from the quality framework: signposts, a key, music, a leaf, an eye, a question mark and a pie chart
part of the Creative Health Quality Framework design, by Jennie Ives
CHWA Non-Exec Director Rosie Dow reflects on how our new Creative Health Quality Framework complements and adds to other frameworks and toolkits now available to the sector.
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White person wearing a green puffer jacket and a grey wooly hat with their left arm stretched out and holding a red mobile phone to their ear with the other
CSA survivor, Arts Activist and Artistic Director, Viv Gordon, speaks to us about how arts and social justice informs their day to day life. Viv will be taking part in one of our panel discussions at the National Conference in October.
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A white male with his hair tied back sitting on a chair in a theatre space with an excitable facial expression alongside a woman wearing all black sitting on a chair looking up towards the ceiling.
Change, Act! CO-Directors Paul Formosa and Charlotte White let us in on what a day in their life looks like ahead of their workshop at the Making Change national conference.
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Close up photograph of middle aged white woman with shoulder length white hair wearing a navy blue round neck top
Our Regional Champion and Age Friendly Creative Manager for Age UK Oxfordshire, Helen Foundation, shares a typical day with us. Helen is part of the Creative Ageing Lived Experience Network (CALEN), who will be speaking at this years conference.
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A white male which a closely shaved head looking to his right amongst a tree blurred background
Ahead of their workshop as part of the Making Change national conference in October, Artist and Performing Recovery magazine editorial board member leon clowes talks us through a day in their working life.
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A white woman with blonde hair smiling to camera against a white and yellow background
National Coordinator, Fiona Moon, chats to Making Change conference contributor Kelly Amoss, about founding the charity Seaglass Collective, which aims to support adopted children access much needed arts and creativity provision.
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A group of eight people in winter clothing standing on a bridge looking to camera. They are smiling and laughing with arms around each other
64 Million Artists
As part of this year's conference theme Making Change, our National Coordinator Fiona is talking to organisations who are rethinking their approaches to work to improve the health of people and the planet.
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A female with pink curly hair and sunglasses on her head, sitting in a woodland. She is writing in a notepad and smiling.
So far, no two days at CHWA have been the same, which I really like. There’s a mixture of operational, creative and strategic tasks and it really helps me use every part of my brain. Right now I’m heavily focused on organising the conference, which involves a lot of collaboration with partners and suppliers, so there’s usually at least one zoom call each day.
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a person stands in the right of the frame, smiling and wearing a grey scarf. Behind them is are trees in leaf.
My recipe for a happy healthy day involves a walk, some kind of movement (a two minute kitchen-dance, some stretches or just pegging out the washing) and some meditation.
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a person stands in a kitchen in front of a tiled wall, holding a cup of tea and smiling
Following the birth of her son in 2014, Kheyla founded Mother Nature’s Recipes, a company that focuses on making room for the necessity of self-care in motherhood from a holistic perspective. She also co-founds Birthing In Colour, a charitable organisation that creates safe spaces online for black and brown birthing bodies and volunteers as a Peer Supporter for the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.
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Venn diagram showing the intersections of 'queer, 'creativity' and 'health'
Illustrations by MJ Barker
What would it mean to ‘queer’ creative health? Why might we need to, and, if so, how? I was given the opportunity to first delve into these questions through a PhD scholarship I completed in 2019. My literature review explored longer histories of the field of Arts in Health as part of exploring its relationship to people and place.  
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Colour photo, exterior. Kitt, a shaven headed white human, is crawling out of an industrial sized bin with arms outstretched towards Sarah a white human who is looking appalled.  They are both wearing extravagant drag outfits made from garlands of flowers handmade from recycled black, orange, white and blue plastic bags.
Lady Kitt, Sarah Li, Art Matters Now, 2022
At the moment I’m working with a Craftspace, a brilliant organisation based in Birmingham, who have commissioned the project Drag Declares Emergency. We are launching a digital exhibition and series of resources this week as part of the project so my main focus is on that.
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Young girl sits at a table making a mosaic and smiling
ACAVA_s Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic - Walking as One workshop (c) Zute Lightfoot. Courtesy ACAVA - Lorna Gemmell
Creative health - or arts and health, or culture, health and wellbeing - has made steady progress this year in an unstable and extremely challenging context; it may not always feel this way, but across government, particularly local government, and in funding and commissioning organisations, recognition for and commitment to creativity and culture in support of health and wellbeing is steadily
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A man in a black hat and light brown suit performs on a stage with his left hand raised. In the foreground another man watches wearing a black cap.
This October, we’re highlighting a few activities led by our members and regional champions for Black History Month. You can also watch our conversation with Dr Errol Francis about his work across mental health, culture and research at the bottom of this page.
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Tina Blaber with guitar against a wall
Tina Blaber
Our existence is embedded in culture – it’s all around us – and I think the need for this, as social creatures, is an inherent part of our make-up, as human beings.
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Logo for Scotland's Sining for Health network
Research shows that singing is beneficial for health and wellbeing, and not just in a general sense. Singing can provide specific support to those with a variety of conditions (some of which are discussed on Scotland’s Singing for Health website).
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Cooper art gallery text
Cooper Art Gallery
Personal Experience (Lewis) This is a blog about the Cooper Art Gallery. My name is Lewis and I'm going to share my experience of the art gallery from an in-person perspective. The Cooper Art Gallery is a gallery that features beautiful old artwork from sculptures, seascapes, river views, and palaces to bridges. The Cooper Art Gallery features some unique paintings and masterpieces.
At a recent WhatNext? meeting the cultural thinker Suzanne Alleyne asked this question of Arts Minister Lord Parkinson: "As we know, there is a very small subset of society that holds power in the publicly funded arts sector. Research shows that human beings fundamentally don’t like change, and that often those in power do not want to share it with those who don’t have access to it. What do you think the steps are that we need to take together to change this?"
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Artist Carol McNicoll leading a workshop for The Repair Centre Portraits of Recovery 2022
Carol McNicoll leading a workshop for The Repair Centre Portraits of Recovery 2022
This article is by Mark Prest, Founding Director of Portraits of Recovery, sharing insights into their most recent project, The Repair Centre For 11 years, Portraits of Recovery has been inspiring and supporting people in recovery from substance use from Greater Manches
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HARP logo
Rosie Dow, Board Director of the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and Programme Manager for ‘HARP’ at Nesta, explains what this arts and health innovation programme has been about, and what they’ve learned  
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Feels like Home ESOL Group, Barnsley Museums- skipping at Cannon Hall
Feels like Home ESOL Group, Barnsley Museums- skipping at Cannon Hall
To coincide with the national event taking place between Monday 16 and Sunday 22 May, Barnsley will be hosting its first-ever Creativity and Wellbeing week led in collaboration by Barnsley Council, the Creativity, Health and Wellbeing Alliance and other key partners.
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a small group of people looks at a video screen hung in front of many paintings stacked in a storage space
CHWA Gather In event at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. Image by: Jenny Harper
Exploring a new AHRC Research Programme led by Professor Helen Chatterjee The Covid-19 pandemic adversely and disproportionately impacted vulnerable members of society, and highlighted significant inequalities in the UK.
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photo of rocks in a misty forest
Forest walk (Photo: Catriona Towriss)
I collect what I find in the forest, carry it to my studio for cleaning and shaping, and then assemble it into sculptural art works. I see my art as a collaboration with nature. I create in order to explore the patterns, tones and shapes of nature, to uncover nature’s visual language.
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The blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag
At a recent rally for Ukraine, the granddaughter of a Tartar – indigenous Crimean – woman, offered her solidarity with Ukrainians; at a small gathering in a Scottish public park, she stood next to a young Belarusian woman, and a Russian man carrying a banner for Russians against the war.
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A person colours in a rainbow flag on a board
© George Archer / Kids in Museums (KiM Takeover Day at the National Justice Museum)
Celebrations and reflections on LGBTQ+ History Month are taking place all around the country this February. We highlight an example here from each of the nine CHWA regions.
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A woman with her back to us, with long hair wearing a pink jacket looks at a painting of a coastline on an orange gallery wall
Visitor to the Inside Out Exhibition at Fleetwood Hospital in Fleetwood. Image credit: Claire Griffiths
How one of England’s oldest Creative People and Places Projects is Growing Grassroots Artists and Makers with a DIY Attitude By Alex O'Toole
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Photo of two people shaking hands, with their hands covered in paint after an art workshop
Arts and Minds workshops in schools (Image courtesy of Sheila Ceccarelli)
In January 2022 the government released a Policy Paper called Levelling Up the United Kingdom. A response to the widening inequalities in the UK, the authors describe 'levelling up' as "a moral, social and economic programme for the whole of government". The paper sets out to describe a route towards creating "equal opportunities".
This brief talk was given as part of a panel focused on music convened by Arts4Dementia in January 2022.
Facilitating the integration of arts and culture into healthcare settings Marcus Janusz and Eleri Watson are students of Occupational Therapy at Northumbria University. They have just completed a twelve-week, role-emerging placement with Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
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An etching of a falcon or kestrel and one of its tail feathers
Credit: A falcon or kestrel and one of its tail feathers. Etching by Eliza D. (Wellcome Collection)
Today I have been out on my bike. It is almost a year ago since I made a commitment to myself to go out for a ride every day that I possibly could, and to write something about what I discovered on my ride. The same ride, a different journey, every day, for a year. 
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Astronomy: a section through the earth, showing the atmosphere. Engraving. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
Astronomy: a section through the earth, showing the atmosphere. Engraving. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
As life began to return to normal in the UK in 2021, research by Bath University was a stark reminder that it is not only COVID-19 that is having a major impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
This month offers a chance to experience events, discussions and more around the country to mark Black History Month. You can watch CHWA's conversation with activist and art therapist Olatunde Spence here:
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Photograph of Dominique De-Light
I have written for as long as I can remember. Short stories created aged ten, fictionalising life or fantasy worlds to escape to. A weekly journal scrawled in an exercise book, started aged thirteen, kept up throughout my life. A regular outpouring of emotion, record keeping and analysis.
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An embrace during a music session at The Montrose Centre
Music as Therapy International
Creativity – artistic, musical, and beyond – has a unique power to engender health and wellbeing benefits.  This is the starting point for The Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance – and it is something our charity, Music as Therapy International, has championed since ou
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Margaret Giller, Necklace of Stars. Photo copyright Lois Blackburn
Margaret Giller, Necklace of Stars. Photo copyright Lois Blackburn
Arts Derbyshire Arts Derbyshire is the strategic arts organisation for the county; its 100+ member organisations include arts organisations, local authorities and public bodies with a re
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Logo for South Asian Heritage Month
Today is the final day of South Asian Heritage Month (18 July to 17 August 2021). As the month closes South Asian Heritage Month on twitter has been focusing on Afghanistan.
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Cheryl C Edwards artwork
Cheryl C Edwards
A story about the growth of a virtual community that emerged from the concept of one artist in North Wales that  reached very much further afield. In the words of artists, and group members, Helen Griffiths and Pete Leonard. 
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Theo & Bobby – members of Barnsley SEND Youth Forum and Barnsley Youth Council – standing in from of The Way Ahead.
The Way Ahead, Barnsley Civic
Jason White, the lead for community engagement at The Civic, Barnsley, introduces The Way Ahead: a brand-new piece of public art in The Civic Barnsley’s Mandela Garden. Made up of fifteen unique road signs, the art protest piece is a collaboration between artist Caroline Cardus and four support groups for local disabled and/or neurodiverse people – ArtWorks South Yorkshire, Barnsley SEND Youth Forum, My Barnsley Too and Wednesday’s Voice, part of Cloverfleaf Advocacy.
Last week saw the 1st anniversary celebrations of m4d Radio – an award-winning internet radio stream developed as part of the Music for Dementia campaign, a national campaign calling for music to be an integral part of care for people living with dementia.
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Man About Town participant taking a photo with his phone with Leeds backdrop
Jonathan Parker, Man About Town, Creative Frame CIC
Using art forms such as music, photography, and painting Man About Town provides a space for men to share their experiences — combatting the rising number of men facing isolation as well as the suicide mortality rate — in Yorkshire and Humberside. According to one project leader, “the statistics are why the fund got put together in the first place.”
Zoe Brown and Sophie Mitchell from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, and Michael Cunliffe from North Tyneside Art Studio discuss their work to tackle local health priorities, including supporting people's mental health through collaborative programmes to make the museums relevant and welcom
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two young carers standing and smilling in front of a colourful artwork in the background
Create
Carers' Week runs from 7-13 June 2021, and we are highlighting a very small selection of member organisations who support carers with their work.
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Screenshot of Yorkshire Dance's Vogue Masterclass on zoom with Darren Pritchard
Yorkshire Dance's Vogue Masterclass with Darren Pritchard
This Pride Month, enjoy two short films: 'Double Life', from leo&hyde's electronic musical GUY, created with More Music, Lancaster Culture Co-op and LGBTQIA+ young people ​from across Lancashire; and highlights from Darren Pritchard's Vogue Masterclass for Yorkshire Dance's Dance On.
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Clive Parkinson speaking at the launch of A Social Glue
...this report embraces culture in all its forms - blurring the messy boundaries between the amateur and the professional; the artist who cares and the health worker who escapes the trauma of their workload through some safety-valve of self-expression and pleasure.
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Health Inequalities panel from A Culture of Care
As the season of culture, health and wellbeing rolls on with this month's international conference for Culture, Health & Wellbeing, you can catch up with highlights from May's APPG meeting on the Mental Health Act here, explore events and organisations involved in Creativity & Wellbeing Week, and watch the CHWA Awards 2021.
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wall graffiti image of a man in a lab coat pouring green chemicals into a glass vessel
(stock image, royalty-free)
When I was a card-carrying physiologist working at St. George’s, Tooting, I would often get into passionate conversations about the importance of science versus the arts. Most of my family, being of artistic persuasion talked about beauty, expression and culture and why it is so critical to human existence. I thought of science as the quest for truth, and art as mere fluff and window dressing. To me it was no contest.
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Birds
Birds, Junction Arts
Bringing external professional artists into the specialist palliative care world has been a reciprocal experience. There has been significant mutual growth and understanding of meaning and purpose and a true connection and ability to understand how the arts are as important and meaningful to a person at every life stage.
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photos of Singing Side by Side team members
Singing provides a bridge between research and practice, academic and everyday life contexts. It provides an overview of current research on the benefits of singing for both mental and physical health.
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Founding Mothers Maternal Journal
Maternal Journal
This month is an opportunity to link you to four fantastic programmes focusing on maternal mental health.
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Photos and short description of Multiple Shenanigans podcast and hosts
Lytisha and Jeanette discuss making their podcast "about the funny side of life with MS"... How has this podcast affected your wellbeing? Lytisha:
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The Lullaby Factory, Studio Weave - Photograph Jim Stephenson www.clickclickjim.com
The Lullaby Factory, Studio Weave - Photograph Jim Stephenson www.clickclickjim.com
On this International Women’s Day there is a lot to celebrate about the fact that culture, health and wellbeing is a field not just dominated by women in terms of numbers, but also more often than not led by women.
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Examples of culture box content
Culture Box
A new research study, Culture Box, is based at the University of Exeter, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by psychologist Professor Victoria Tischler. The study addresses two urgent challenges. Firstly, providing COVID-19 public health information for those with cognitive impairment, specifically people with dementia living in care homes. Secondly, alleviating social isolation and loneliness for those living with dementia in care homes, by providing them with creative activities that support wellbeing, especially in the context of long- term lockdowns and the associated restrictions.
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Glenn Gould playing the piano
Photograph of Glenn Gould. Creative Commons Licensed 1.0
If nothing else, the pandemic had forced us to re-consider the terms of cultural production and consumption. Too often, simple everyday forms of creativity and pleasure have been cast as competitive sport. Even the most domesticated forms of creative expression - baking or sewing - have been turned by TV commissioners into tales of winners and losers.
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Screenshot of 20 people in an online Vogueing masterclass
Yorkshire Dance - Vogueing Masterclass
A shift of weight, a flick of the wrist, the pressure of hot palms pressed together – touch, trust and physical closeness are the tools of our trade as community dance practitioners. We read the language of the body to help participants develop greater awareness, confidence and ease in their bodies. All of this exists in real, three-dimensional life and can never be replaced.
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Three musicians on a split screen on zoom: Clive Hunte, Amina Hussain, Lucy Geddes
String of Hearts CIC - musicians Clive Hunte, Amina Hussain, Lucy Geddes
12 months ago, Lucy Geddes and Amina Hussain set up String of Hearts, a community arts organisation which connects older adults through music-making in their local area of Trafford, Greater Manchester. During Covid-19 they developed a music phone call initiative to support people without internet access, which is now being socially prescribed by GP practices and local organisations.
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A group of women discuss images laid out on a table
© Greg Morrison for Dulwich Picture Gallery
This project aims to position the Tessa Jowell Health Centre as a leading model of good practice in the arts and health national policy arena, with the potential to influence and inform other health settings with its inclusive design approach and vibrant creative programme.
In our consultation for Curating for Change we have been talking to D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people about the barriers they have faced in getting work within museums. The lack of flexibility with working conditions alongside environmental barriers have been cited on several occasions as reasons for why they have not managed to access roles in the past. The move towards remote working is something that many disabled people and those with long term health conditions have been hoping for, and the pandemic has proven this is entirely possible.
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Image of the front door of St Margaret's House in Bethnal Green
© Diana Serban @Battlegrounds19
I’m not often asked to write something for a blog so when Jenni Regan (London Arts in Health) asked me during a Zoom meeting to write a blog post about how St Margaret’s House has started to reopen to the public as we emerged through lockdown, I said yes. Then afterwards started to think and ponder – how do I go about this?
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An image of the writer Maxwell A. Ayamba
An image of the writer Maxwell A. Ayamba
...people from minoritized communities suffer disproportionately from structural and systemic racism in education, health, jobs, housing, poor quality environments, which are all triggers of mental ill-health. Therefore, the question of leisure and recreation or accessing natural spaces is the last thing on the minds of the underprivileged, especially where the landscapes do not reflect people’s cultural origins or values.
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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
Changes in approaches to evaluating creative activities delivered remotely or online during COVID-19 have been prompted by increased flexibility from funders and the continuing need to find appropriate, accessible and sustainable ways to access participant experience. These are two of the findings uncovered through a recent curated online conversation, hosted by Willis Newson, Creative and Credible, Arts and Health South West and the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance, in association with Professor Norma Daykin and Dr Karen Gray.
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Soap carving swirls
Hannah Ayre, Prescribe Culture
Prescribe Culture: a heritage-based, non-clinical mental health programme by Ruthanne Baxter, Museums Service Manager, Edinburgh University  
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Nurses surround a baby in hospital, smiling
Ex Cathedra
In an extraordinary piece of timing, UK leading choir Ex Cathedra was working with Singing Medicine patients and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Chaplaincy Team before anyone had heard of coronavirus, to create what is thought to be the world’s first hospital-wide children and young people’s virtual patient choir, called the Lifting Spirits Choir.
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Head gardener Kate Robinson crouches in the Charterhouse garden
The Charterhouse (Head gardener Kate Robinson)
Here at the Charterhouse, like everywhere else, we keep trying to settle into a new ‘normal’ and then everything changes again…
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“Snow Leopard” from my illustrated mind, by Kathryn Watson
“Snow Leopard”, from my illustrated mind, by Kathryn Watson
I’ve never studied art; I come from a medical background and did a PhD in microbiology. My world was about numbers, statistics, looking for tried and tested patterns, and grouping things into distinct categories. Absolutely these approaches have a place, and are especially essential when needing to rapidly process large amounts of information in high risk environments. But it didn’t give me a good way to process my inner world of chaotic and conflicting thoughts and feelings. Thankfully illustration did.
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History Club, Doncaster Heritage. Photo: James Mulkeen
History Club, Doncaster Heritage. Photo: James Mulkeen
History, Health and Happiness’s first impact report was published this summer... the data says they can infer that “participants are experiencing new levels of connectedness and are building their relationships within their community”. Participants are also “well engaged in project activities and learning things that are new to them”.
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pillcases filled with feathers
Nature Cures, by Sue Flowers
I truly believe that when we normalise difference we enter a much more just and equal world. We all have mental health, that’s a fact - so shouldn’t we all acknowledge this hidden truth, accept that we might have mental ill health at some point and stop being afraid of the unknown?
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A man and woman dance together
Dance to Health Birmingham - Andy Barker
With the health, social and economic tragedy of Covid-19, we must move on fast and on a much larger scale. We have many brilliant artists in this country ready and able to make a vital contribution.
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"What I've missed during lockdown" - a colourful image of a hand with words written onto each finger: "not worrying, hugging, feeling carefree"
"What I've missed during lockdown", Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Trust
I only started the role in September 2019 so was still in the process of getting to know the trust and its service users and staff when Covid 19 stopped things in their tracks. Suddenly all the plans for joint working were put on hold as sectors shut down and the idea of actual face-to-face networking seemed strange, incongruent and old fashioned.
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Joanna Brinton, GOSH Family Arts Week
GOSH Arts
Hospital Habitats invites young people to re-imagine their hospital as an environment for wildlife, and comes out of Something &Son’s long term project The Manuals which explores a new culture where humans create rather destroy ecosystems through our daily actions. The project is open to all young people – please share it with your patients and partners: www.gosh.nhs.uk/wards-and-departments/departments/gosh-arts/resources/how-can-hospitals-become-more-sustainable
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John Humm, Being-Opposite-Illness. The work, using self-portraiture and digital techniques, explores how focusing on the bodily experiences of others may estrange doctors from their own bodies. © John Humm
John Humm, Being-Opposite-Illness. © John Humm
Each year, students on the BSc Medical Sciences with Humanities, Philosophy and Law at Imperial College London produce a project on a topic of their choice. As one of the tutors on the course, it’s always a treat for me to see the breadth and originality of these topics. ... This year, of course, was rather different. ...
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A photograph of a performer singing and holding a guitar at Tramlines 2019; Dan Bale, Open House Pictures
Tramlines 2019; Dan Bale, Open House Pictures
Steve Rimmer of SME of the Week and DigitalHealth.London Launchpad company, The Ticket Bank, explains how the company is giving free event tickets to people who normally wouldn’t be able to access them and talks about the company’s transition into NHS social prescribing and social care...
The way artists respond to crises, the DIY reinvention of projects and activities, is often celebrated, but sometimes it looks like artists thrive in difficult conditions. Rather it is important to understand that the arts have particular understandings of improvisation. The practice of artists can sometimes be overlooked (seen as a ‘black box’), with the outcomes being the focus of evaluation.
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Sewing through the pandemic sample
Sewing through the pandemic, Changing Lives
At Changing Lives, we support women who face the most disadvantage in our communities. We support women who are repeatedly abused sexually, physically and emotionally and then often described by other people and services as the most ‘complex’, ‘challenging’ or ‘difficult’ women to work with.
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Dancing in Driveways- Charlotte Armitage
Dancing in Driveways, Charlotte Armitage
A participant of Dancing in Driveways in Sheffield describes how a dance artist's gesture to help her street has transformed community spirit and health.
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logo for Dawn Chorus
Creative Aging International (CAI) was started with the ideas of “making with” and “making for” at its core.
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‘Dads and Sons’ performing at ZoieLogic Dance Theatre’s Headfunk 2019 Photo credit: Matt Pear
‘Dads and Sons’ performing at ZoieLogic Dance Theatre’s Headfunk 2019 Photo credit: Matt Pear
A conversation between Victoria Hume (Director, CHWA) and Liz Ellis (Policy Project Manager, National Lottery Heritage Fund) Victoria: This year in a beautiful piece of synergy, Creativity and Wellbeing Week, theme Positive Futures, runs alongside Mental Health Awareness Week, theme Kindness.
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"What I've missed during lockdown" - a colourful image of a hand with words written onto each finger: "not worrying, hugging, feeling carefree"
"What I've missed during lockdown", Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Trust
The Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance is gathering evidence of the sector's response to covid. See this page for more information.  
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Manchester Museums- Spoons
Manchester Museums
Kids in Museums is a charity funded by Arts Council England as a Sector Support Organisation for the museum sector.
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Our Day Out, Creative Arts East- participants dancing
Our Day Out, Creative Arts East
In 2017, CAE received Spirit of 2012 funding to deliver Our Day Out, a unique dementia-friendly creative arts initiative for rurally-isolated older people. The initial three-year programme (2017-19) provided opportunities for people to engage creatively through fortnightly dementia-friendly, inclusive and interactive music and movement workshops in rural communities across Breckland and North Norfolk.
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Two people dancing in a care home
Live Music Now: A Choir in Every Care Home
At Live Music Now, our work at hundreds of care homes, hospitals and special schools stopped immediately because of the necessary and vital separation.
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Logo for Creativity & Wellbeing Week
Creativity & Wellbeing Week (18-24 May 2020) is giving us a snapshot of amazing work happening across the country. Working to our festival theme of Positive Futures, some of our contributors have organised digital events, and many others have told us about their work and organisations.
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Embroidery by Geraldine Montgomerie - featuring the words "we can't go back to where we were"
Geraldine Montgomerie
by Geraldine Montgomerie, Project Support Officer | Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network  
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photograph of a sign in a woodland. The sign says "Find the smallest movement". (Signs of Life by Rachel Howfield Massey. Photo by Pete Massey)
Signs of Life by Rachel Howfield Massey. Photo credit: Pete Massey
Health inequalities due to social determinants have all too often been neglected by policy makers and now inevitably the most vulnerable are the worst hit by social isolation and its consequences. No-one is claiming that connection to nature can compensate for this serious, structural inequality, but it may help ameliorate some symptoms of anxiety, loneliness and stress.
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 High Peak Community Arts’ Project eARTh; participants working with artist Caro Inglis
High Peak Community Arts’ Project eARTh; participants working with artist Caro Inglis
Suddenly, it seems that all art is about health. Cultural organisations and creative practitioners everywhere in the world have been responding to covid-19 with the huge variety of perspectives that you might expect. Some responses are critical, some are there to promote health guidance, some take a longer view of how the virus reveals about humanity...
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Close up of Mum's hand- embroidering
Mah Rana
' I enjoy creating a well-making space in my mother’s home where both my mother and I can breathe, de-stress, and attend to self-care through acts of creativity.' A reflective blog from artist/researcher and carer Mah Rana exploring the power of creating well-making spaces in unsettling times.
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picture of a young person's hand, drawing a detailed picture of a cat
42nd Street
Conversation between Hayley Youell and Julie McCarthy, Great Place Manager for Greater Manchester Combined Authority, 16 April 2020  
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a cartoon of facilities manager Jackie Marriot as the superhero 'domestic goddess'
Matt Roberts for Air Arts
All of our staff are working really hard at the moment and need to feel our immense gratitude for what they do. So many people are going above and beyond and we wanted to celebrate those people who were inspiring others and being such a positive force so we decided to turn them into super heroes.
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Scroll containing a perpetual calendar with illuminated sections. Ruzname-i dairevi - astronomical tables for both the Arebi (Islamic) and Rumi (Julian) calendars providing chronological accounts of seasonal change, entry of the sun into signs of the zodiac, times of summer and sunset.
MS Ottoman Turkish 3. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
…if you’ve self-isolated over years as I’ve done, you do slow down to a very, very different pace. The following is an interview with Gilly Angell, a founding member of the LENS group, from 31 March 2020  
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Equal Arts Carers’ Cultural Adventures’ Group flying their handmade Korean flags Photographer Dani Giddins
Equal Arts Carers’ Cultural Adventures’ Group flying their handmade Korean flags. Photographer Dani Giddins
All of us are still thinking through the implications of this immense international crisis. In the spirit of offering up questions and sharing what is currently influencing our thinking, we're sharing here a few blogs and articles, and works of art, from people who have been taking a step back and reflecting on the experience and implications of covid-19.
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.
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Participants at the Winter School, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Participants at the Winter School, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (c) Bart de Nil
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.
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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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, Great 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.