Arts and health: think big and embrace the opportunities

Drummers on stage following behind a woman in a huge twirling skirt
22 Jul 2020

A substantial new income stream for the arts sector can go hand in hand with significant savings to the health budget, says Tim Joss. But first we need to move beyond some widespread assumptions that are holding back progress.

Stay well, supported and creative: our new microsite for Covid-19 updates

Statue with face mask
19 Mar 2020

In uncertain times, ArtsProfessional will be providing regular updates on projects and resources to support wellbeing, careers and creativity in the arts.

Care homes celebrate culture

art consultation in a care home
22 Sep 2021

The importance of access to arts and creativity in care settings has become ever more apparent during the pandemic, writes Alison Teader.

Firstsite wins Art Fund Museum of the Year

22 Sep 2021

Firstsite Colchester has won £100,000 and the title of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021.

The art gallery, which celebrates its 10th birthday this month, has transformed since losing its National Portfolio Organisation status in 2015. The prize's judges lauded the centre for its relationships with artists and efforts in the community. 

During the pandemic, it loaned its building to neighbouring charity Community 360 to run a food bank and created activity packs that were downloaded by more than 92,000 households.

The centre has recently hosted exhibitions My name is not Refugee, curated by clients of Refugee Action Colchester, and Art For Life, comissioned by NHS key workers to aid understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on mental health.

"At their core is powerful, engaged contemporary art, housed in a gallery that gives space for everyone, from artists to NHS staff to local families and refugee groups. They exceeded all our expectations," Art Fund director Jenny Waldman said.

The four other shortlisted finalists - Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry, Experience Barnsley, Thackray Museum of Medicine and Timespan - each received £15,000.

Deprived areas benefit most from culture

group of people looking at art on a wall outside
15 Sep 2021

New research indicates cultural engagement improves wellbeing in England’s poorest areas the most, but unequal access remains a barrier to participation.

Belgium prescribes culture for Covid stress

06 Sep 2021

Patients diagnosed with Covid-related stress in Brussels are being prescribed free visits to museums and galleries.

Doctors at Brugmman Hospital are offering visits to five publicly owned sites across the Belgian capital, including its centre for contemporary art, a fashion museum and a museum of the city's sewage system.

“It has been shown that art can be beneficial for health, both mental and physical,” Brussels' City Councillor for Tourism Delphine Houba said.

The idea forms part of a three-month pilot scheme designed to bolster mental health during the pandemic.

Inspiration has come from a similar programme in Quebec, Canada, where doctors prescribe up to 50 museum visits a year per patient.

Half of disabled music workers don’t disclose conditions

03 Sep 2021

Music industry workers are putting their health and safety at risk over fear of negative reactions and damaging their career prospects.

Museums tackling loneliness

image of museum
01 Sep 2021

In rural areas such as Cornwall, the pandemic has exacerbated loneliness, with vulnerable people losing their sense of community. Emmie Kell thinks museums can be part of the solution.

TV industry 'ignorant' of legal duties to disabled staff

23 Aug 2021

Senior television workers are unaware of their legal obligations to their disabled colleagues, driving many out of the industry

80% of disabled TV workers believe their disability has damaged their career and 77% say their career options are limited, according to a small survey commissioned by Birmingham City University's Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity.

Respondents said there is "little understanding of the Equalities Act" and some continued in a potentially harmful role because they feared the consequences of asking for reasonable adjustments.


Entry level jobs like being a runner can be a barrier to more disabled people joining the industry. Some respondents said they struggled to find work outside of disability programming; others chose to use their insight to support this work. 

The research also noted a recent trend among broadcasters to relocate to regional centres creates issues for disabled staff, such as finding suitable accommodation and rebuilding support networks. 

The report was produced by disabled journalist Kate Ansell: "What's striking is the consistency of the experiences described and the simplicity of some of the solutions," she said.

"It's crucial that the industry acts upon what it is being told." 


Writing for health

using a computer on a sofa
13 Jul 2021

It's widely agreed that arts and creativity can boost mental health and wellbeing. But less well known is the positive effect that writing can have, says Christina Bunce

Masking for a friend

09 Jul 2021

Arts venues might lose out by mandating masks and other Covid-19 mitigations but it's the only socially responsible option.

Time's up for conservatoire culture

A theatre workshop in which students rush at a young person seated on the ground
09 Jun 2021

Drama schools would do well to interrogate their practices and culture now before the calls for reform begin.

Why we must put wellbeing first

Someone operating a lighting board at the mercury theatre
04 May 2021

Sebastian Cater says cultural sector managers who make mental health a priority aren’t virtue signalling, they’re leading by example.

Starting the healing process with culture

Image of Manchester City of Literature Festival
27 Apr 2021

Marie-Claire Daly reflects on what the past year has taught Greater Manchester about resilience and recovery, and what we must take forward to ensure the sector succeeds.

When altruism meets experience

Image of George and Rebecca on screen
27 Apr 2021

The pandemic has proved the power of the arts in addressing isolation. Eleanor Sutton shares how a volunteering programme is benefitting artists and the elderly alike.

True service is selfless

A group of people wearing masks standing outside southall manor
16 Apr 2021

Ajay Chhabra jumped at the opportunity to manage a Covid test centre in the heart of London’s South Asian community. He found that one size never fits all.

How to power recovery in the hard-hit North East

Crowd at a gig
24 Mar 2021

Abigail Pogson outlines the vital contribution the arts can – and should – make as the nation edges towards recovery.

Challenging the norms of dance

Someone mid-dance in a leotard kneeling on the floor
24 Mar 2021

Grace Nicol wants to redefine how we make dance to support more risky work. The answer, she thinks, lies in greater pastoral care.

Acting is an emotional assault

Richard Blackwood in Typical
17 Mar 2021

Wabriya King was told she had to be tough to be an actress. It’s not her who needed to change, she writes.

All I need is a hairbrush microphone

Woman singing into hairbrush
17 Mar 2021

Ruth Pitt reflects on the power of music and the projects that put it at the heart of recovery. 


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