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.

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.

Former NPO announces closure following funding loss

Young people working on graffitti
27 Mar 2024

Creative health charity Arts & Health South West said that despite turning to alternative funding models after losing its National Portfolio status last year, it hasn't been possible to secure its financial future.

Rising number of performers seeking mental health support

View from behind a clinical specialist speaking to a patient
18 Mar 2024

Calls for sector focus to reduce high levels of poor mental health among performers following a 'destabilising and challenging' five years.

Shropshire yoga centre gets ACE grant

13 Mar 2024

A yoga centre in Shropshire has been awarded a £22,000 Arts Council England grant for a community project that will combine creativity and wellbeing.

Jenna Blair Yoga in Shrewsbury will deliver a series of workshops aimed at community engagement that will target those who wouldn’t usually have access to the yoga studio’s facilities.

The Creative Awakening project hopes to engage with refugees, people experiencing physical and mental health challenges, young carers and the homeless. 

Blair said she was “blown away” to have been awarded the grant, which follows a recent £10,000 National Lottery award.

She continued: “I am hugely passionate about the power that both creative practices and yoga can have on our lives – the two are so connected and help us to find opportunities for self-expression, relaxation and mindfulness, as well as being invaluable in supporting our wellbeing.”

Blair added that the ACE funding would enable the studio “to offer a breadth of enriching creative experiences that support people’s wellbeing, as well as helping to develop new skills”.

Workshops will also be delivered in partnership with local mental health charity Shropshire Mind and the national brain injuries charity Headway. They will take place in Shrewsbury and be open to people across Shropshire.

Pressures on freelance mothers in dance 'at critical point'

A female dancer leaping through the air
29 Feb 2024

Concerns raised over female dancers returning to work too soon after giving birth, risking physical exhaustion and injury.

Do you have an employee Health and Wellbeing policy?

28 Feb 2024

Leading a team producing a demanding festival in a challenging environment, Catherine Groom thinks developing and formalising a health and wellbeing policy is essential.

Researchers investigate benefits of singing

28 Feb 2024

A Bristol music venue is teaming up with researchers at the city's University of the West of England to explore links between singing and wellbeing.

The project, called Sing for Happiness is being described as the first large-scale research initiative of its kind and is seeking up to 500 local participants to take part.

Sing for Happiness will consist of a series of in-person sessions at St George’s music venue across spring 2024, with a final performance at Bristol Beacon on Saturday 22 June. 

It's hoped the research project’s results will provide data on how singing can be used in health and wellbeing contexts such as social prescribing.

Kat Branch, Head of UWE Bristol’s Centre for Music who is leading the study said: "No research has been done on this scale before, and we’re really pleased to be collaborating with St George’s who have fantastic links in the Bristol community to make this happen.”

Natalie Cooper, Leader of Bristol-based Melody Makers Choir, which will be convening sessions during the project, said: “People often tell me after a choir rehearsal how it has made them feel so much better. 

"There’s nowhere like a choir – how many places can you go to genuinely make new friends, create beautiful music together, feel a sense of achievement, and feel safe knowing that everyone is equal?”

Frazer speaks out against theatre trigger warnings

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer
21 Feb 2024

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says theatre audiences should be 'treated in an adult way' despite campaigners insisting that trigger warnings are an important tool for improving accessibility.

Learning music keeps brain healthy in later life

29 Jan 2024

People who play a musical instrument or sing have better brain health as they age, a study by the University of Exeter has found.

Scientists found that among 1,108 participants with an average age of 68, playing a musical instrument was associated with significantly better memory, with keyboard or piano players scoring the highest on average.

Singing in a choir was also found to improve brain health, with researchers suggesting the social aspect of being part of an ensemble may also play a key role. 

Anne Corbett, Professor of Dementia Research at University of Exeter, said: “Overall, we think that being musical could be a way of harnessing the brain’s agility and resilience, known as cognitive reserve.

“Although more research is needed to investigate this relationship, our findings indicate that promoting musical education would be a valuable part of public health initiatives to promote a protective lifestyle for brain health, as would encouraging older adults to return to music in later life.

“There is considerable evidence for the benefit of music group activities for individuals with dementia, and this approach could be extended as part of a healthy ageing package for older adults to enable them to proactively reduce their risk and to promote brain health.”

'Neglected housing' claim at artist studio scheme

Lakeside Centre
22 Jan 2024

Bow Arts provides low-cost housing and studios to artists in properties that have been deregistered from the housing list because they are due for demolition.

Artwork proposed for Leeds park to make it feel safer

15 Jan 2024

Creative lighting and public art are to be designed by community groups for a park in Leeds to try to make the space more welcoming for women.

Wow Park - a co-creative public art and lighting project to make Woodhouse Moor feel safer - is being developed by the University of Leeds after a study of women and girls from across West Yorkshire found that most feel unsafe in parks in some situations.

The study, carried out by researchers in the university's School of Law, concluded that feeling vulnerable in parks is a barrier that needs to be urgently addressed to ensure that women and girls feel able to use, enjoy and benefit from them. 

Woodhouse Moor is an open space that borders the university and is used by thousands of students and local residents as a social space to walk to and from campus. Research in 2016 showed it is the city’s most popular park, hosting more than three million visits annually.   

The University’s Cultural Institute will use the study's findings to explore whether creative solutions can help transform the park to make it feel safer, more inclusive, and welcoming for women, girls, and local communities.   

Professor Ben Walmsley, Dean of Cultural Engagement and Chair of the Cultural Institute’s Steering Group said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore and showcase the powerful role that arts and culture can play in animating places and making them safer and more inclusive, as well as more attractive. 

“This project shows how the University of Leeds can work across its diverse Schools and Institutes to translate research into action and make a positive difference to people’s lives through sustained community engagement."

Creative children, stronger families

Young children playing
11 Dec 2023

Ben Dickenson is on a mission to create a National Centre for Children’s Creativity. He passionately believes in the power of play to build stronger families.


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