The two organisations have signed a three-year agreement to work together to raise awareness about the health benefits of arts participation.

Woman painting
Both parties agree to look at how prescribing arts activity can help support wellbeing

Arts and health collaborations in Wales have been bolstered through the signing of a three-year Memorandum of Understanding between the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) and the Welsh NHS Confederation.

The agreement aims to promote the benefits that the arts can bring to the population’s wellbeing, and to create a “more equal, cultural and sustainable Wales”.

A spokesperson for ACW said participating in creative activities can have a “very positive impact on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing”, and help to reduce demand on NHS services.

The new memorandum commits the Welsh NHS Confederation and ACW to collaborate on:

  • Supporting advance of good practice and disseminating research
  • Conducting a review of the impact of being creatively active on wellbeing
  • Supporting the drive for a “mass shift in public thinking” about their health and supporting Wales to become a creatively active nation.

In addition, both parties agree to identify how the arts could contribute to health policy, particularly through social prescribing – using reading, dancing and singing to ‘create’ health.

Arts and health interventions are becoming increasingly common in Wales, with projects including National Dance Company Wales’s creative therapy for Parkinson’s patients and Aesop’s dance-based falls prevention programme. Recognising this, ACW conducted a mapping exercise of arts and health activity earlier this year.

Speaking about the agreement, Chair of ACW Phil George said: “There is growing and resilient evidence for arts participation benefitting mental health, wellbeing and recovery from physical illness.

“This Memorandum will allow us to promote these benefits to the Welsh public and to policy makers.”

This was echoed by Andrew Davies, Chair of the Welsh NHS Confederation Policy Committee, who emphasised the “wide range” of arts initiatives already supported by the NHS across Wales.

“Working together for the first time, our two organisations will further raise awareness of arts initiatives, support the advancement of good practice and help to increase public recognition of the health and wellbeing benefits of being creatively active,” he added.