Older people: culture, community, connection

23 Mar 2022

What’s the impact of cultural participation in later life, and how do we capture its value? Helen Manchester explores what the research tells us. 

Emotional resilience is the key skill for 2022

Community and peer support can be essential to a resilient team
19 Jan 2022

While many arts and culture organisations are concerned about their financial viability, emotional resilience will also be essential to seeing out the pandemic, argues Robin Cantrill-Fenwick.

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.

National Lottery awards £13.7m for community projects

30 Jun 2022

Six projects designed to support heritage, culture and nature have received funding from the National Lottery to help communities recover from the impact of the pandemic. 

A total of £13.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been allocated, including £2.1m to Leeds Culture Trust for its Leeds 2023 project, a creative programme that aims to "let culture loose" across the whole city. 

The funding will be used to help uncover hidden community stories, celebrate art, music, dance and industrial history; reconnect people with nature; explore the traditions and role of different cultures in Leeds.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Dales District Council has been awarded £1m for its Hurst Farm Heritage Trail project.

And Blyth Tall Ship has been awarded £636,600 for its Blyth Heritage Community Response project, which will provide group activities to develop their skills and improve their own wellbeing and employability.

Other beneficiaries are Redruth Revival for its project Redruth Buttermarket: Rediscovering the Market Town, the Tweed Forum for its Destination Tweed: Source to Sea Restoration and Revitalisation project, and NatureScot for its Species on the Edge project.

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we were able to support these exciting projects, which put heritage at the heart of people and places. 

"It is so uplifting to see the continued ambition in the light of the impact of the pandemic and ongoing challenges, protecting our precious heritage and supporting communities to recover and thrive."

Monkeypox: how can festivals prepare?

28 Jun 2022

With the summer festival season underway, organisers should consider implementing contact tracing systems and raise awareness of monkeypox among attendees, the World Health Organisation says.

Scottish Ballet pilots new care home initiative

27 Jun 2022

A pilot programme called SB Duet will be launched in three Independent Sector Care homes within Inverclyde Health and Care Social Partnership to support the wellbeing of people with reduced mobility.

Scottish Ballet are partnering with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Care Home Collaborative to run the pilot, which will offer care home residents an accessible movement experience that can be done in bed or at the bedside with a carer, visitor or independently. 

The programme package includes two ten-minute films and audio resources, each containing a short excerpt of a Scottish Ballet performance, followed by five minutes of gentle guided movement.  

Dance and movement have been shown to improve physical fitness, cognitive function and quality of life for care home residents.

The programme builds on the neurological programmes and projects run online by Scottish Ballet during lockdown, which demonstrated that people with neurological conditions and reduced mobility were willing and able to take part in gentle guided exercise.

“Research suggests that dance-based interventions are effective in improving both the physical and mental well-being of older adults,” said Pooja Gupta, Care Home Collaborative AHP Care About Physical Activity Lead.

“This resource will not only support physical activity, but also promote mental well-being and help people do what matters to them the most.”

A third of arts businesses plan to adopt hybrid working

21 Jun 2022

Businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors are among the most likely to adopt permanent hybrid work models, the latest Office for National Statistics figures reveal.

They show the number of organisations for whom working from home is, or is planned to be, part of their permanent business model has risen from 16% in autumn 2020 to 23% in April 2022.

Organisations in these sectors showed much higher preferences for hybrid work models than others, with 33% working to implement a long-term culture of offsetting days spent in the office with days working from home.

Data suggests most businesses are motivated to make the shift to hybrid work because of improved staff wellbeing, reduced overheads and increased productivity. 

“Despite the removal of all Covid-related restrictions, these latest statistics show there are still a large number of businesses eager to continue a culture of hybrid working,” said Tina Chander, Head of the Employment Law team at Wright Hassall.

She added that many employees are reluctant to return to offices full-time but that employers “still have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workforce is protected, even if employees are working from home full-time”.

Broadcasters back anti-bullying authority

20 Jun 2022

Britain’s five major broadcasters have offered support for the next stage of development for an Independent Standards Authority (ISA) to help tackle bullying and harassment within the creative industries.

Proposals for the ISA were developed by Time’s Up UK, in consultation with the creative industries, led by Chief Executive of Creative UK Caroline Norbury.

The proposal has the backing of broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky, who say they are committed to creating working environments built on “respect and diversity”.

The new body will offer confidential advice, mediation and investigations into complaints from anyone who reports suffering abuse, harassment or bullying.

“It is well known that concerns are often not raised until after film and TV productions have ceased, where broadcasters and production companies no longer have remit to address them,” said Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of Time’s Up UK.

“In this grey space many suffer in silence. Nor is there any process, especially where there are multiple allegations. The ISA will conduct expert led investigations where both sides can be heard by an independent panel of skilled investigators working to the highest standards of legal confidentiality.”

The creative industries will fund the next stage of the ISA’s development, which will include design of the remit, structure and funding arrangements. 

The ISA is already supported by BAFTA, BECTU, the BFI, the PMA and the Casting Director’s Guild.

New music app to help dementia patients

14 Jun 2022

A music app designed to support care of people affected by dementia has been launched by music wellness technology firm Music Health.

The app, called Vera, analyses the age of the person with dementia, where they grew up and how they react to music, to create a personalised playlist designed to help manage the Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD).

More than 80% of people living with dementia experience BPSD and personally significant music has been found to decrease the effects.

Vera features music owned by Universal Music, after the industry giant signed a partnership with Music Health to include the label’s entire global music catalogue.

Music Health Co-Founder Stephen Hunt likened the app to a “music detective”.

“It seeks out tunes that they used to love a long time ago but may have forgotten about, which their carers may have never heard of, and their families may not even know.”

Study recommends hour of arts each day for children

08 Jun 2022

Children could benefit from an average of 65 minutes dedicated to the arts each day, according to new research.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for the arts was built using insights from 504 primary school teachers surveyed across the UK and guidance from child psychologist Laverne Antrobus.

It is published by Sky Arts to coincide with the launch of Access All Arts week, a nationwide arts initiative for primary schools taking place until June 10.

The RDA breaks down to 17 minutes dedicated to literature, 14 minutes to art, 12 minutes to music, 11 minutes to drama and 11 minutes to dancing.

Antrobus says the RSA for arts is a "brilliant way to put a simple framework around the importance it holds for children and their development".

"Having the opportunity to paint, to dance, to write poetry has huge wellbeing benefits for a young child, helping them to develop self-confidence and a positive self image.

"Access to the arts helps to build creative skills which are likely to be in demand later in life – for example, problem-solving and imagination."

Learning to laugh at war

Bomb shelter in Kyiv theatre basement
07 Jun 2022

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Kyiv theatre has become a bomb shelter for artists and locals. Its director Alex Borovenskiy has led the creative and humanitarian initiative using Facebook.

Arts organisation takes part in four-day week trial

07 Jun 2022

Not-for-profit arts organisation 64 Million Artists is among 70 British companies participating in a six-month pilot to offer employees a four-day working week with no loss of pay.

More than 3,300 workers are taking part in the scheme, which is the world’s biggest four-day week trial to date. Staff at participating organisations pledge to maintain 100% productivity in return for working 80% of the hours while retaining 100% of their salaries.

Based in London, Brighton and Stroud, 64 Million Artists offers training and development programmes, collaborates with academic institutions on arts research and policy, and issues creativity challenges to inspire artists and promote positive change.

The trial, which launched this week, is organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy and the 4 Day Week Campaign. 

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford alongside Boston College, USA will work with participating organisations to monitor company productivity and staff wellbeing and to measure the trial’s impact on gender equality and the environment. 

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge,” Chief Executive of 4 Day Week Global said.

Other companies participating in the trial span the education, consultancy, housing, skincare, food and beverage, marketing and architecture and construction sectors. 


Arts Council Northern Ireland to fund support for older people

24 May 2022

Funding applications are now open for community groups, arts organisations and councils across Northern Ireland who wish to take part in the Arts and Older People Programme.

Established in 2010 by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the programme challenges perceptions of what it means to be an older person. It is designed to tackle loneliness and promote positive mental health among older people through the arts.

The latest round of the programme, in partnership with the National Lottery, will award £200,000 of funding in grants of up to £10,000 to support projects benefitting older people.

“We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as help to relieve stress, loneliness, worries and pain,” said Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Programmes Officer of Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

She said that recent rounds of the programme have “focused on delivering arts activity within care home settings, working with residents living with dementia and their carers,” and encouraged organisations across the region to apply.

To date, the programme has provided £2m of funding to community organisations and voluntary groups, resulting in the delivery of over 200 arts projects.

Applications for this latest round of funding will close on 7 July.

National Day of Arts in Care Homes set for September

17 May 2022

This year’s National Day of Arts in Care Homes will take place on 24 September, The National Activity Providers Association (NAPA) has confirmed.

The annual event, now in its fourth year, celebrates using arts and creativity to support health and wellbeing in care settings.

A week of online sessions will begin on 19 September, focused on creating meaningful arts engagement for people living with dementia.

This year’s edition will widen the conversation beyond the UK, with arts projects from partners in Canada, Mexico and France forming part of a Care Home Twinning project, developed in response to a consultation with the care sector last year.

NAPA is calling for arts organisations to get involved by registering to host an event on the event's website

Arts workers more likely to experience poor mental health

11 May 2022

Performance arts workers are more likely to experience poor mental health than their peers, according to a global scoping review published by Equity.

Led by Dr Lucie Clements, the review spans 111 academic studies related to mental health and wellbeing in students and professionals within the performing arts.

Two academic papers, one reviewing actors and the other ballet dancers, showed depression to be twice as likely in performers than the general population. A separate study found that 54% of musical theatre students reported a level of depression or anxiety that met the rate for diagnosis of a mental disorder.

A meta-analysis reviewing levels of anxiety in a given week found dancers (24%), opera singers (32%), acting students (52%), actors (60%) and rock musicians (90%) to far surpass the levels observed in the general population (6%).

Across the studies, a culture of unstable work, antisocial working hours, time away from home, and financial fears were cited as the main attributors to increased stress and mental health in performance artists.

In response, Equity has created a Mental Health Charter listing five demands.

The union is calling on producers and engagers to address the harmful impacts of precarious work, adopt relevant safeguards in the workplace and ensure inclusion of historically marginalised groups.

It also demands education providers ensure every young person’s training is conducted with dignity and respect and calls on the government to reform the Mental Health Act.

Equity General Secretary Paul Fleming says the charter puts the responsibility on those that control the creative industry: “They show that our demands for improvements in pay, condition and access to the industry aren’t just about our members’ material wellbeing, but their mental health too.”

NHS funds stand-up comedy course for men at risk of suicide

11 May 2022

A course teaching stand-up comedy skills to people suffering from mental illness, postnatal depression, anxiety and PTSD is being socially prescribed by the NHS.

Comedy On Referral, which previously ran a successful six-week course in Bristol for trauma survivors, has been awarded funding by the NHS to help men at risk of suicide in London.

Founder Angie Belcher was awarded a grant this week from the North West London Integrated Care System, which works across 10 NHS trusts and eight London boroughs to reduce suicides. She will work with psychologists to help up to 20 men deemed to be at risk of suicide.

Belcher said that stand-up comedy exercises and games can be used to process trauma and take control of personal narratives.

“I’ve taught comedy for 10 years, and students often told me how much stronger, more resilient and happier they were after exploring their personal histories through stand-up comedy,” she said.

The course is the result of a year-long research project on the effects of comedy as a therapeutic tool.

Patients referred by the NHS will create a five-minute stand-up set based on their personal stories. A performance for at least 100 people will be organised at the end of the course.

Mental health platform for musicians goes live

09 May 2022

A new digital mental health platform for musicians launches today (9 May) to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

Music Minds Matter Explore, created by charity Help Musicians, offers mental health help and guidance and signposting to local and national support.

Help Musicians says the resource follows an increase in demand for mental health support from musicians in the wake of the pandemic. Calls to its Music Minds Matter phone service have increased by 34% since the start of the year.

“Sadly, two years of Covid have seriously disrupted careers and we would encourage anyone struggling to get in touch and find the support they need,” Head of Music Minds Matter Joe Hastings said.

Arts project to support early onset dementia care

27 Apr 2022

Research into the impact of arts-based health workshops for people with early onset dementia and their caregivers is being supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The two-year project, which received £113,000, is one of the first to use the arts to help care for dementia patients under the age of 65.

Drama, dance and storytelling practitioners will help university researchers in Nottingham and Derby deliver workshops based on neuro-dramatic play, an attachment-based model that builds the ability to cope using creativity. 

Participants will take part in drama, role-play, storytelling and music-making with an eye to improving their quality of life, family relationships and ability to manage a dementia diagnosis.

“Our hope is to take our findings from this initial project and continue to develop this research and toolkit to develop so it can have further national and international impact,” lead investigator Dr Clive Holmwood said.

Energy crisis likely to affect arts workers’ mental health   

20 Apr 2022

Arts workers are the professionals most likely to anticipate negative mental health consequences due to the energy crisis.

Projects across virtually all professional fields will be negatively affected by the energy crisis, including the arts and culture sector, according to the results of a survey by the Association for Project Management (APM).

The survey of 1,000 project professionals found most anticipated increased project costs. But among arts and culture workers, a negative effect on the project team’s mental health was the most prevalent concern.

Other likely negative impacts included delays to start dates and completion, and an inability to fully realise the intended benefits of projects or achieve net-zero targets.

“The breadth of responses from this survey show the many different ways that projects are likely to be affected by the global energy crisis,” said Professor Adam Boddison, APM’s Chief Executive. 

Sector must 'do less' to protect freelancers

19 Apr 2022

The danger of burnout is growing as arts and culture become increasingly central to regeneration agendas.


Subscribe to Health and wellbeing