Symposium scales up evidence-based arts and health programmes

  • 20th June 2024

This is the biggest-ever study into the impact of arts in health programmes. Image, Pari Naderi

Three organisations which have been pioneering evidence-based arts and health programmes, and who are part of the largest-ever study into arts and health, will be coming together next week to present a free symposium for artists, organisations, researchers, health partners, and commissioners.

The symposium, on 27 June, is a coming together of minds to share knowledge and create new ways to collaborate in order to scale up arts and health programmes across the UK.

Bringing together artists and organisations who champion the well-documented benefits of arts for physical and mental health, the event is part of the campaign to bring more of these impactful and economical interventions into more hospitals and healthcare settings.

Launched in 2019, Scaling-up Health Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research (SHAPER) is the world’s-largest-ever study into the impact and scalability of arts interventions on physical and mental health, led by King’s College London in collaboration with UCL, and supported by a £2.5m award from Wellcome.

The three arts partners taking part in the study, and leading the symposium, are Breathe Arts Health Research with Breathe Melodies for Mums, English National Ballet with Dance for Parkinson’s – PD-Ballet, and Rosetta Life with Stroke Odysseys.

They will be sharing their learnings with the symposium and aim to release further findings from the study in the autumn.

The symposium is delivered in partnership with the National Centre for Creative Health (NCCH) and its Creative Health Associates will share practice examples from all the regions of England.

Recognising the ongoing challenges faced by the NHS and the role that creativity can play in improving health and wellbeing, particularly through evidence-based programmes, the symposium aims to find new ways of collaborating to scale up arts and health programmes across the UK.

The symposium is a coming together of minds to share knowledge and create new ways to collaborate in order to scale up arts and health programmes across the UK. Image, Pari Naderi

And it will examine the essential components of successful delivery and how organisations can work together to effect lasting change. There will also be an opportunity for sharing, learning, and networking with a view to developing new partnerships across the sector.

The day will open with an introduction to SHAPER and presentations from each company including a short film showing the effect their work has on participants, then conference participants will be split into three groups to take part in workshops lead by each company.

Breathe Arts Health Research and NCCH Creative Health Associates from London, the South West, and the South East, will lead a session on Creative Health commissioning sharing tools and approaches to demonstrating impact, with insight from public health professionals and theatre company and participatory arts charity Outside Edge, who work with people affected by addiction.

English National Ballet will lead talks on Training and Advocacy and will be joined by partners from Dance for Parkinson’s regional hubs DanceEast and Liverpool Hope University to highlight cross-organisational partnerships .

Rosetta Life will lead a workshop on co-production, leading the discussion by sharing its co-creation process with communities of people living with brain injuries. The Creative Health Associates from the North West and North East and Yorkshire will also be sharing examples of co-producing creative health work focused on mental health.

Dr Tony Woods, SHAPER programme manager at King’s College London, said: “We are delighted that the evidence from our research shows the strength of arts programmes in delivering outcomes improving the mental health of young mothers living with post-natal depression, people living with effects of stroke, and people living with Parkinson’s Disease.

“We are honoured to share our preliminary outcomes at the symposium with the National Centre for Creative Health, combining our strengths to celebrate the role of arts in improving the nation’s health.”

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