Its time to think bigger…

June 16, 2017


Arts for health is a growing global movement. A movement with a continuously strengthening reputation, which is gaining greater and greater recognition within both the arts and medical communities.


Gone are the days when art in health meant dreadful ‘art collections’ made up of mostly donated artworks by amateur artists, local schools or the wife/neighbour/uncle/old friend of the chief surgeon etc… not forgetting the obligatory portraits of dead people who no one knows. Volunteer led arts and crafts projects involving anything from basket weaving to finger painting no longer cut the mustard… and so they shouldn’t.


Today arts in health can, and should, mean relevant, impactful creative interventions into both the physical environment and the holistic healthcare experience. We are now seeing projects which are skilfully designed to be relevant to the participants and healthcare environments in which they are experienced. From art collections, art and design commissions to performance & participatory projects – the bell is tolling for amateur hour, it’s time to up the game.


There are however still remains of days gone by – bad collections of ‘art’ which no one knows what to do with; ‘artists’ who work for free and so continue to be attractive to organisations who can’t say no to a freebie; visiting ‘musicians’ who pollute already stressful environments with noise that can barely be described as music and wouldn’t be acceptable in any other place…


As a growing global movement, we must now reach out to one another, share and learn from everything that is going on within this vibrant, exciting sector all around the world. There are still poor quality projects going on but there are far more amazing things happening which will undoubtedly outshine the poor cousins of yesteryear.


As a community we are beginning to connect and reach out beyond our localities. The technology available today allows us to easily share our learning and experiences around the world.


Outstanding examples of this global approach to knowledge sharing are the SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange, part of the European Healthcare Design Congress. While this knowledge sharing platform is mainly focused on architecture and design of global healthcare facilities, they are embracing the important role that art has within this field.


Another brilliant example of this bigger thinking approach is the webinar series on arts and health by the visionary RSPH. By making their sessions available via the internet they are reaching a global audience beyond the UK.


The forthcoming Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference in Bristol is also thinking on a global scale with many of the conference sessions being streamed live and later available via Youtube. This will be a phenomenal conference and by sharing on this global scale will have so much more lasting impact - this is an amazing development for the global arts health community.


As an art consultant I have worked on projects all over the world, now more than ever physical location is no longer a restriction. I am currently involved in projects across Australia, the UK, Japan and Europe. Arts Health Associates are currently recruiting new associates based in the UK, Australia and South Africa - we are truly going global. 


Sharing knowledge and learning is key to improving and growing our sector. The technology we use to do this doesn’t have to be expensive or complex, from email to facetime to more advanced technologies like virtual reality the possibilities are endless as long as we are connecting. Together we are stronger.

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