Arts in health is a growing global phenomenon but growth of the sector is hindered by insufficient profile. In the wider healthcare sector there is a lack of awareness of the benefits arts in health can bring. Funding is scarce and practitioners are often focussing on process and not including production and promotion of the work in project budgets. If, as a sector, we sought collectively to raise the profile of the work that we do, we would, in turn, increase understanding of the positive contribution such projects deliver.
Increased profile leads to increased understanding of the benefits, which leads to increased appreciation, which leads to increased demand
Many arts health projects and programs have no online presence, so how is anyone supposed to learn about them and the impact they have had? There are great programs I have come across which have no webpages. Some hospitals have creative programs but don’t want to promote the fact that they have them, or there’s ‘no budget’ or ‘no room’ on the existing webpages for coverage of projects.
If you value it enough to do it, value it enough to promote it
If there’s no budget for dedicated web pages there are so many free alternatives we can use. Social media only costs us the time it takes to upload images and project descriptions etc and by using this we are sharing our knowledge and experiences worldwide. Failure to document and promote a project or event, simply limits the effect and the impact. Great work goes unnoticed. In a time when we have so much easy to use technology around us there’s no excuse for not having strong online presence.
Much of the best work done within the arts health sector is under documented, under represented and under evaluated, if evaluated at all. Unless we document, evaluate and promote the work that’s being undertaken how can we expect to increase the demand from healthcare providers, participants or other stakeholders?
It’s also important within the sector, to be able to access the work of others so that we can learn and share our knowledge and experiences; the feedback from participants and audiences; take pride in our achievements and learn from our mistakes. There can be a tendency to compete and not support, this is not a constructive approach. If we come together to build a stronger peer network nationally and internationally, we will see much faster progress – together we are stronger. Collaboration is such a powerful tool and we must keep this at the forefront of our minds as we are planning and delivering creativity within healthcare environments.
Clive Parkinson, the godfather of arts and health has been blogging for years sharing his wisdom, news and views to thousands across the globe http://artsforhealthmmu.blogspot.com/
There are so many people doing great work and we need to connect with one another to develop a stronger supportive community. There are so many ways we can do this – practitioners, projects and organisations should have LinkedIn profiles and/or pages. Twitter feeds are a great way to document projects, events or conferences as they happen. Instagram is a fantastically easy way to share images. There’s also now many free webpage options, too many to list here. Blogging allows us to share our work and reflections of our practice and on the wider sector. Technophobia is no longer acceptable - if we want appreciation of what we do then we have to be able to explain what we do and why.
The RSPH are blazing many trails including knowledge sharing via reports, webinars and annual arts health awards scheme www.rsph.org.uk/resources/factsheets-and-reports/arts-and-health.html
You can find out more about the our work and the work of various arts and health practitioners across the world, via our webpages, social media feeds on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We also have a regular newsletter through which we aim to connect and strengthen the international arts health community