‘Arts for Life’, a three-year fundraising initiative by the Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity, has been launched with a view to funding patient care initiatives at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital that are beyond the scope of NHS budgets. As well as investing in flagship projects in maternity, paediatric care and burns research, the money raised will support the art presence at the hospital’s HIV clinics, bring artworks to inpatient bedrooms and develop performing arts programmes to “humanise the clinical environment”. Arts for Life is a collaboration involving the Serpentine Gallery, Christie’s and the Royal College of Music, and the Charity’s work will be guided by an Advisory Board involving leaders in both the visual and performing arts, including Rob Dickins, Chair of the Theatres Trust, artist Anish Kapoor, Kate Pakenham, Executive Producer at the Donmar Warehouse, and Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of the Serpentine Gallery.
Enthusiasm for an arts programme at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has grown since a study by the Charity into the psychological and physiological benefits of incorporating the arts into the hospital’s patient experience found a 31% decrease in depression in the presence of music, and an 18% decrease in anxiety and 34% decrease in depression in the presence of visual art. Patients exposed to visual art and live music during the post-operative period required less analgesia per day and stayed on average one day less in hospital.