Where dance and tech collide

28 Feb 2024

Elise Phillips's work clearly demonstrates that technology can enhance the health and wellbeing impacts of dance work with neurologically disabled people.

Arts in health: What's changed in 25 years?

Scene from a hospital passion play
20 Feb 2024

The role of arts in healthcare settings has become part of the recognised creative landscape, but this is far from how things were when Lucinda Jarrett started out.

Orchestras in healthcare

Musicians playing to patients in a care settting
20 Feb 2024

A recent report reinforces the UK-wide picture of the great work orchestras do in delivering societal good. As Sarah Derbyshire writes, there are encouraging signs of progress over the past three years. 

Creative exchange: Dancing with MS

Dancers facing a mirror in the Clore Studio
13 Feb 2024

Continuing our series on the theme of arts, health and wellbeing, Ruby Wolk shares the success of a Royal Opera House Creative Exchange project in partnership with the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In defence of trigger warnings

Sign saying: Trigger Warning - Explicit Content
12 Feb 2024

The colossal efforts to advance and champion diversity and accessibility in the sector are undermined by negative press criticising the use trigger warnings before shows. But, as Fiona Moon argues, they should be viewed no differently from accessible seats or toilets. 

Art in hospitals

Kwame Kwei-Armah at the curtain call for Our National Health Stories
07 Feb 2024

Hospital arts programmes are flourishing thanks to a national network and a groundswell of support for such initiatives, as Laura Waters explains.

Movement for wellbeing

Image shows two people seated, one in a wheelchair, touching hands
05 Feb 2024

Taking part in physical activity has proven health benefits but it remains elusive for many. Here Amy Knowles shares an innovative approach to engaging adults in moving more. 

Teaching empathy

01 Feb 2024

Empathy is vital in the work of NHS staff, but it's not always part of their professional development. Persis Jadé Maravala is collaborating on a project to improve healthcare training using touch.

Campaign for free craft workshops reaches fundraising target

01 Jul 2024

A charity’s campaign to raise money to pay for vulnerable and disadvantaged people to attend creative classes has hit its £12,00 target.

New Brewery Arts aid the money will be used to allow residents in Cirencester to access 1,200 free hours of creative workshops.

New Brewery Arts CEO Beth Alden said: “We would like to thank our amazing community for supporting our campaign not only through their kind donations but also their support and good wishes throughout the campaign. 

“From our years of running courses and workshops here in our studios, it is clear that making brings our students incredible health and wellbeing benefits. We are excited to give this experience to those in our community who most need it.

“But we are not stopping there. We will continue to collect donations for New Brewery Hearts so that we can continue to provide vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community with access to creativity.”

Artist to explore well-being in rural communities

01 Jul 2024

An artist has been appointed to undertake a research commission to explore well-being in rural communities in Northumberland.

The Maltings (Berwick) Trust and Newcastle University said Emily Cropton, a multi-disciplinary artist based in the Scottish Borders, will work with the two organisations and researchers at the university’s Population Health Sciences Institute to document well-being in rural communities, with a specific focus on the relationship between the human and landscape body.

The Northumberland Gazette reports that the commission has been informed by university research that found living in a rural area can significantly impact individuals’ well-being, both positively and negatively.

“The opportunity to work in this way, between theory and practice, will be a new approach for me and I’m excited to get stuck in,” Cropton said.

Don’t dance, because nobody's watching

Children dancing
24 Jun 2024

Dance is part of the national curriculum and schools are statutorily obliged to provide it. So why is a blind eye being turned to the dramatic decline in dance education at all levels? asks Joe Hallgarten.

Scottish Opera partners with stroke charity

Karen Maclver and Jessica Leary from Scottish Opera performing at Chest Heart  Stroke Scotland's No Life Half Lived Parliamentary event
24 Jun 2024

The online singing, songwriting and breath control sessions are aimed at helping people with aphasia improve their confidence around communication.

Fail, fail again, fail better

Launch of Failspace
12 Jun 2024

Failure is part of life. We all know this, creative folk perhaps better than most, says Katie Villa. But how can we learn to fail well?

Study highlights wellbeing impact of theatre company

12 Jun 2024

Work by a theatre company for learning-disabled perfromers is providng them with benefits offstage as well as on, a study has found

Winchester-based Blue Apple Theatre commissioned a study from Dr Rachel Harrison, a Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care at the University of Winchester, to look at the impact of its work with people with learning disabilities.   

The study found that taking part in Blue Apple’s sessions and performances had many ongoing benefits for the participants by improving their emotional wellbeing and self-confidence.  

“Blue Apple hadn’t realised that what participants valued above everything else were the relationships that they formed when they came to the group,” said Dr Harrison. 

“Being accepted for who you are and being part of a group is so important.”  

Coming to Blue Apple gave participants a unique place where their views and opinions were always listened to and considered, she said.

Interviews also revealed that the skills participants learned for shows helped them in ordinary life, boosting confidence and self-esteem.  

“People told me about being able to speak more clearly because they had learned to project their voice,” said Dr Harrison. “This has given people confidence. One person said 'I can go shopping now because people can understand what I say’.”  

Others told Dr Harrison their maths skills had improved thanks to being involved in musical numbers where they had to count the beats to keep in time.  

Blue Apple’s Artistic Director Richard Conlon said: “Although we see for ourselves the development and growth of wellbeing and confidence in specific individuals, it is reassuring to have that view validated externally.  

"We are also very pleased that we can use these insights to track change in our how participants feel about their experiences at Blue Apple so that we can respond, change and grow to meet their needs.” 

Liverpool Philharmonic extends health programme

11 Jun 2024

Alder Hey Children's Hospital is the sixth NHS organisation to become part of Liverpool Philharmonic's Music and Health programme.

The initiative, funded by Alder Hey Children’s Charity, aims to improve the health and well-being of children, young people, their families, carers and staff across the hospital through weekly music-making sessions.

The programme, now in its 15th year, is one of the longest-running and largest arts and health programmes in the UK. 

Michael Eakin, Chief Executive of Liverpool Philharmonic, said: “We are delighted to welcome Alder Hey to our Music and Health programme and are grateful for their commitment to this new partnership. 

"We now work with six NHS organisations in the Liverpool City Region, being able to expand our support to children and young people is very important to us. 

"This programme has demonstrated the long-term positive impact music and creativity has on improving the physical and mental health outcomes of patients and participants and we’re excited to continue to grow the programme and support more people in the region and beyond”.

Fiona Ashcroft, Chief Executive of Alder Hey Children’s Charity said: “Music and the arts are a huge part of what we do at Alder Hey to help our children and young people recover. 

"The charity has funded Arts for Health projects across the hospital totalling £354,524 this year alone and we’re delighted to be able to now partner with such a prestigious organisation as Liverpool Philharmonic.”

Arts projects to benefit from lottery fund expansion

21 May 2024

The National Lottery Community Fund, which has previously funded arts projects supporting wellbeing, young people and the elderly, has announced plans to extend its reach to more than 80% of the UK.

Are we doing enough for physical health in the music industry?

21 May 2024

While a great deal of effort has been focused, rightly, on the mental health and wellbeing of performing artists, Claire Cordeaux of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), says we should not neglect physical health.

Music initiative to support dementia sufferers to launch 

08 May 2024

A three-year programme of musical support activities to help people with dementia will launch later this year after funding of £1m was secured.

A combination of awards from the Power of Music Fund, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and NHS Greater Manchester will fund three years of direct musical support activities across all of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs.

Manchester Camerata will partner with Alzheimer’s Society and the University of Manchester to run music cafes in a bid to help take pressure off frontline health and care staff.

The organisations intend to recruit and train a volunteer and community workforce of 300 ‘Music Champions’ to deliver the music cafes, helping to support over 1,000 people living with dementia in the area.

Bob Riley, Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata, said: “This is a colossal moment built on over 10 years of work and research in partnership with The University of Manchester. 

"We know it will bring much-needed support for people living with dementia and their carers. It will create new opportunities for our amazing musicians in the UK and bring about changes in the way we invest in music to bring the widest possible benefits to society."

Ballet supports children with arthritis

24 Apr 2024

Ballet Cymru is offering support to children and young people living with juvenile arthritis as part of a creative collaboration launched with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, funded by Arts Council Wales.

Dr Joanne May, a consultant at the Children's Hospital for Wales, who initiated the Dance to Move partnership, said: "We aim to deliver holistic care, but time in clinics is limited, which often means the focus is on condition management and treatment.

"Early on, we recognised that creative interventions would benefit children not only because dance elements would support movement, but also because they provided an opportunity to build confidence and support the wellbeing of children and their families."

The programme provides an immersive experience for children and families by offering dance, drawing, costume design and storytelling.

Art therapy improves outcomes for young people in mental health units

10 Apr 2024

Art therapy is associated with positive outcomes for children and adolescents in a hospital-based mental health unit, a new study published in the Journal of Mental Health has found.

Researchers, led by Sarah Versitano, examined more than six years of data from a child and adolescent mental health hospital ward in Australia to understand if the use of restrictive practices, such as seclusion or physical restraint, was lower during the periods when art therapy was offered compared to times when it was not available.

The findings showed "a clear association" between the availability of art therapy and reduced frequency of seclusion, physical restraint and injection of sedatives in mental health units.

Researchers suggest that the trend could have emerged as art therapy may decrease severe distress levels among patients, reducing the risk of harm to themselves or others.

In forthcoming research, the same team aims to understand better young people's experiences of art therapy and why it appears to reduce distress.


Subscribe to Health and wellbeing