Monday, 1 January 2018

Culture & the Arts as Social Determinants of Health

A Happy New Year to you
...First things first - I hope that 2018 will be positive in so many ways for you personally, and to our arts and health community.

Vic McEwan
Just two things for this New Years Day posting - one, there are just a handful of places for the free event at HOME on the 23rd January. This is an opportunity to hear from Vic McEwan about his time in residence at Alder Hey Children's Hospital and the superb Harmonic Oscillator. I'll be launching a book about his work and sharing some of my observations about contemporary social arts practice. So click HERE if you want to come along.

I am very excited to announce that the brilliant Maxine Peake will be my special guest at our follow-up event to the Creative Health launch which we held at the Manchester School of Art in July. Why Maxine Peake? When I told her about our field of research and practice, and our belief that culture and the arts in all their forms, should not be the sole preserve of the great and the good - she committed herself to being part of this agenda. She is a dynamic actor, with deep integrity and I'm thrilled that she wants to be a part of our bigger cultural conversation. So it's an exciting and evolving agenda and you'll see some detail below, including a link to eventbrite to express your interest in attending. I've had to do it this way, so as to prioritise people from our region, and ensure a diverse range of people on the day. It will be a busy event, so register promptly.

Finally, we are not interested in the grandiose gestures of self-styled venture philanthropists hell-bent on the standardisation and packaging up of cultural activity into an insipid blanket prescription for all life’s ills, but beginning a more difficult and nuanced exploration around inequalities, social justice and just how culture and the arts might be a significant factor in healthy lives well lived. So below are some brief details
, with more on eventbrite.

Culture & the Arts as Social Determinants of Health
With special guests Maxine Peake and Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt
This is a free North West Arts & Health Network event exploring cultural participation as a social determinant of individual and communal health.

When: 6th February between 11:00 - 15:00
Where: Manchester School of Art
Register interest HERE

In 2017 Arts for Health hosted the public launch of Creative Health - the report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health & Wellbeing - at the Manchester School of Art. The report was researched and written by former Arts for Health Research Associate, Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt who will be unpicking elements of the report which focused down on the factors that influence our health. These are the social determinants of health.

We are thrilled that the actor Maxine Peake will frame our event and thinking around experiences of the arts in relation to inequalities and social justice, encouraging us to think more widely about the potency of culture and the arts to transform lives and instigate social change.

In 2019 and 2020 Manchester will host the World Healthcare Congress (Europe) and arts and health will be a core strand of these two large-scale international events, which will be led by Clive Parkinson and Esme Ward. We hope that this event on 6th February might begin to inform elements of these conference strands, reinforcing the place and potential of culture and the arts as a social movement that influences health and social change. 

This event on the 6th February additionally aims: 

To inspire and develop new ways of thinking and working together
To interrogate the recommendations made in Creative Health 
To galvanise our community

You have three weeks to express your interest in attending this event and places will be allocated on Tuesday 30th January. The agenda is subject to change and other contributions to the event are being planned. 

Priority will be given to people with lived experience and those whose work is focused on arts and health activity, research and development in the North West of England.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017


This blogger will be signing out until the start of January, but small moments may float on and off the blog over the coming weeks…

For now:
Save the Date 23rd January 2018
The Harmonic Oscillator with Vic McEwan and Clive Parkinson
Where: HOME - Manchester
Tickets and details: HERE

Save the Date 6th February 2018 

Creative Health Revisited: Culture and the Arts as Social Determinants of Health
Where: The Manchester School of Art
Want to be involved? Want to register your interest in sharing your work? Just want to attend?
Email a short and sweet message to and remember, priority is given to those in the North West and particularly those with strong grass-roots experience.

Save the Date 5th - 7th March 2019
Advanced notice of the World Health Congress (Europe) 2019/2020.
I am very pleased to let you know that over 2019/20 Manchester Central will be holding the World Healthcare Congress - and that I am proud to be working alongside the Whitworth’s Esme Ward, and together we'll be curating a dedicated arts and health theme for both of these, three day conferences.

This is huge in terms of arts and health connecting into mainstream global health events, and offers us a unique opportunity. 
Greater Manchester leads the way in the development of arts and health: its influence has international reach. From small-scale projects and multidisciplinary research, to systemic cultural change and a history of radical thinking, we believe in doing it differently. 

Participation in culture and the arts has the potential to enrich life experience, public health and human potential. This conference theme will interrogate the arts as a social determinant of health. Greater Manchester will act as the incubator to this global conversation and 
I'll share a lot more on this as our planning unfolds.

YAWN As the arts and health community begins some great shifts and changes, 2018 looks all set to be a spectacular year - a mix of bun-fights and enlightenment - and more on that very, very soon.

I see too, that Arts Council England has welcomed Elizabeth Murdoch into its National Council as the former head of Sky Networks established a £1.5 million fund for young visual artists. This is certainly one to watch. I can just imagine those tap-dancing venture philanthropists, champing at the bit to get her involved with their personal pet projects! All we can do, in the words of our Strictly Hosts, is - Keep Dancing!

...and finally As my research leave draws to a close, I extend my warmest thanks to all those people in the US who’ve shown an interest in Arts for Health and my evolving research focusing explicitly on inequalities and social justice. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with you, and to Carrie McGee particularly - my warmest thanks.

To friends old and new, my very best things for 2018 and all that is ahead of us…  ☁︎

Monday, 11 December 2017


A pause to think of all the people called Mark - known, unknown, family and friends.

Then - a number of funding opportunities for those who work with children and young people...

Funding to support the core costs of youth organisations
Not for profit youth organisations that support young people (aged 14 - 25) facing disadvantage can apply for grants of between 10,000 and £60,000 through the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Youth Fund. The funding is available for up to two-years and will support the core operating costs of the applicant organisation. Examples of what can be funded include part-funding the salary of a key individual. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and up to 30 awards a year will be granted through this fund. Read more HERE. 

Helping Hand: youth project funding from #iwill 

Go Think Big are offering 10 grants of up to £500 to young people who have good ideas for projects that use volunteering as a way of boosting their own skills and experience and those of their peers. The Helping Hand Youth Project Initiative encourages young people aged 15 - 24 to make a difference to their communities by getting involved in a wide range of activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering. The deadline for applications is Sunday 31st December 2017. Read more HERE. 

Funding for projects that use the arts & media to address the concerns of children
Not-for-profit organisations in the UK that are working with children and young people using the arts and creative media can apply for funding of up to £50,000 through the Ragdoll Foundation's Open Grants Programme. The Ragdoll Foundation's vision is to support projects where the concerns of childhood can be heard. Organisations can apply for both one-off short-term projects and for projects lasting up to three years. Preference will be given to those projects which have a deep commitment to listening to children and allow the perceptions and feelings of children themselves to be better understood. The Foundations is mainly interested in applications that involve children during their early years, but appropriate projects for older children (up to 18 years) will also be considered. Whilst the Foundation will fund work in and around London, they will prioritise projects taking place elsewhere in the UK. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Read more HERE. 


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Speaking Truth to Power...

For those of you eager beavers out there keen to book a place on the next large-scale free North West Arts & Health Network event, it will be the a follow-up to the Creative Health report launch held in the summer at the Manchester School of Art. HOLD THE DATE >>>>TUESDAY 6th FEBRUARY<<<< and details with how to contribute and attend will be here very shortly.

The Centenary for Women’s Suffrage is 2018
The centenary of property-owning women, over 30 years of age and all men receiving the vote will be celebrated in 2018. Shouldn't we now be acknowledging those pioneers, ordinary people who did extraordinary things, to further the struggle to gain the vote? It was these people who helped highlight the opportunity for ALL women to participate in democracy by uncovering the achievements of those who both fought for the Representation of the People Act 1918 and then went on to participate in the opportunities it created. The aim of the this project is to identify and celebrate the lives of 100 women and men who were active in the campaign for extending the vote to all women and who went on to use their extended rights of citizenship in a positive way in their local areas. This could be your grandmother, aunt, or other family member. If so let us have some information about them and perhaps they will become one of those 100 pioneers we wish to recognise.

So - are you aware of women from the North West who deserve to be recognised? If so, you have until the end of December to nominate them. Click HERE to nominate.

Question: How much is a post doc arts and health researcher worth? 

Answer: With a starting price, it seems - £17,326!

(Now what is the average student debt I wonder…?)

Want to know more? 
Want to go for the job? Click HERE.

Orwellian nightmare or fairer system for all? What Quality Metrics will mean for arts funding.
“Can you measure the quality of art? Well, no. You can’t take out a ruler and discover how good a play is, though you can measure things that hover around it, such as how many people came to see it and how much it cost. Instead, deciding what is good is a human and subjective thing – and who gets to decide is a tender and touchy subject. When, recently, it became clear that Arts Council England was intending to make data collection on the quality of a work compulsory for the largest organisations it funds – rolling out a “Quality Metrics” programme – there was an outcry. “Horseshit,” tweeted artist Tim Etchells. Composer Thomas Adès wrote: “Tell me this is a hoax. What happened to human opinions, judgment, discernment? Knowledge, taste? Not enough likes?” There were fears that the arts council was about to visit on England an Orwellian scenario in which funding decisions would be based on algorithms and boxes ticked.” This is an extract from Charlotte Higgins’ full article which you can read HERE.

Reflections on a dance
On Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre perform. In truth I’d gone along to this performance under a little duress, having overindulged on Thomas Adès's - The Exterminating Angel - an opera based on the wonderful Luis Buñuel film of the same name, but an opera which left me cold. There’s something longer to write about opera, life experience and a certain white inward looking smugness, but I’ll leave that one for another day. 

But being an aficionado of Strictly Come Dancing - I thought I’d give the Alvin Ailey a go, and to be honest, it’s been one of the more profound and moving things I’ve experienced in my time in the US, and for reasons which have completely surprised me. My background is staunchly white working class, and dance and opera were never on the radar - never - (and after all the hype around the Adès, opera still inhabits a space which has the power to repel). In fact in the late 70’s when punk was evolving into some kind of new wave, I remember I bought a copy of Peter and the Wolf purely because Bowie was doing the narration on it. Walking home, I bumped into my dad and he asked me what I’d bought. I showed him the album, and he looked a little worried, his furrowed brow a little deeper than usual. Later that same day, he asked to have a quiet word with me. He’d been talking with my mum, and advised me that I was getting into some serious stuff listening to classical music, and I should be careful.

So sitting in the god’s at the dance performance, I was surprised to find myself thinking of my parents again, and my dad’s words of caution. There were two moments which struck me. A performance called After The Rain Pas De Deux - which used one of those ‘classical’ pieces of music that have so corrupted me over these year; Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt. Two dancers - Jacqueline Green and Yannick Lebrun - transfixed me. I’d listened to this work a thousand times, but never seen the work made real - physical. All I could do, was think of my mum. Think how she too loved Strictly, and how as a young woman she loved to dance in Morecambe’s ballrooms of the 30’s and 40’s. To my knowledge, she never went to see dance performed - yet I know - she too would have been moved so deeply by this.

Then a second moment, and another body of short pieces performed by the company, under the title of Revelations with choreography by Alvin Ailey in 1960. These were what I can only describe as shorter dance sequences set to African-American spiritual songs with titles like I Been ‘Buked and Didn’t My Lord Deliver Me Daniel, written by Hall Johnson.

With my atheistic and working class labour roots, this work had an even more complicated affect on my bio-chemical and neurological pathways! What was happening? For a good half hour of poignant fables and impossibly beautiful movement - I was bleary eyed - transfixed and completely cocooned from the white-trash president who was in town for the day. But the biggest surprise for me, was that I was cocooned with my dad, who in my mind would have been so deeply moved by the whole experience. It was listening to this spiritual music and seeing all that human potential (and being aware of the darker depths of the work) that I remembered the music of my childhood that he and my mum loved and which I only ever really considered after he died, and which I chose for his funeral - largely that of Paul Robeson. Deep, resonating and very black.

I didn’t grow up in a metropolis - so the diversity of London, Paris or New York was irrelevant to me, my diversity quota being served up by the TV courtesy of Love They Neighbour, Rising Damp and the Wheel Tappers and Shunters Social Club. Don’t ask! 

So there I was - watching, hearing, feeling something resonating through my body which took me back home to the music of my childhood and to a conversation that I'd had with my dad in his later years - about Paul Robeson. What was it about him that had appealed so much to this hardworking Morecambe man? It’s only then that he told me about Robeson’s time in front of the The House Un-American Activities Committee and his work supporting Welsh coal miners; an unfolding story of injustices and something heroic beyond the individual and towards wider social good. You can read a far more eloquent account of his life HERE. You can also get a flavour of Roberson’s eloquence in this short and powerful film below. Talk about speaking truth to power.

In that theatrical space - I felt some kind of deep connection with my parents - a real post-mortem treat. Some might impose wider supernatural influences on these kinds of moments, but I don’t. It was exhilaration at the beauty of human athleticism, of being in one of those spaces (like a church - but stripped of all its superstition) and immersed only in the thing. Nothing else existed, but this wonderful familial connection rooted in the moment, in the aesthetic and in a shared poetry, yet born of poverty and systemic inequalities.  


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Barbarians at the gates of Rome

On the 23rd and 27th September 2017 as part of research leave from Manchester School of Art, I gave a performative presentation of new work written for The Big Anxiety Festival at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I called the work dis/ordered and it was an hour-long exploration of experiences in my own life seen against a backdrop of what I describe as the reductivism of all our mental difference into neat pathological and market-based models. Because of the sensitive nature of some of the material I shared, I asked that it wasn’t filmed or webcast, but rather be seen as two distinct performances of a new body of work. It happened live, and that was it.

Since the work was shown, I’ve been asked if I’ll perform it in full again, and I guess the answer would be - it depends on the context. What I have done however, is make a 12 minute online taster of the work, which whilst alluding to some of the more sensitive material, doesn’t go into any detail, but provides a flavour of the work. So whilst it may seem to jump from theme to theme, it’s simply the skeleton without all the flesh, the blood and the passion. Please feel free to get in touch with me about this work.

Parramatta Girls 
Up until the early 1980s, ‘children at risk’ were held at Parramatta Girls Home in Sydney and subjected to unwarranted punishment and abuse, as has emerged in the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. You can read about the extraordinary collaborative work that utilised the world’s highest resolution 3D immersive environment and was central to The Big Anxiety Festival. Here is a short and powerful film of a former Parramatta Girl, Jenny McNally which tells us much about the power of the arts and of telling story to make sense of and address, trauma. 

Harmonic Oscillator & Critical Care
For those of you interested in coming along to the event at HOME on 23rd January, (described on last week's blog) where Vic McEwan and I will share our work on The Harmonic Oscillator and launch of the book Critical Care, registration details are by clicking on the image below. exciting new conference on arts, health and recovery!
Making, Materials and Recovery: Perspectives "from the inside"
Research about Art and Health straddles many fields and topics. However, related literature presents two issues: an over-attention to evaluation, which is argueably detrimental to artistic research in arts and health; and a lack of first-hand experiential perspectives on sickness and recovery. 

The panel explores recovery as a process of (mutual) learning, where art making and recovery translate into new forms of practice and knowledge. Having worked on wellbeing practice and theory, we now wish to gather personal experiences of art and recovery to question the importance of an "insider's" perspective. 

We are interested in: the nature of the knowledge and practice generated by an experience of sickness and recovery; the role making/art play in new forms of knowledge and practice. How such knowledge changes the nature of academic knowledge? How it shifts our conception of knowing, teaching, and research? Can experiences of sickness, recovery and art be considered research methodologies in their own right? Can such experiences be incorporated into our practice as academics? What value can they have for our institutions?

We invite presentations including, but not limited to the following:

art and recovery as knowledge-generating processes 
uses of different art forms in recovery - what is the role of materials? 
usefulness of anthropological concepts in this field
new modes of analysing and communicating art and recovery from inside, including but not limited to writing
institutional responses to sickness
recovery and social justice within the academy
asset-based approaches to sickness

To submit a paper click HERE.

New £4.5 million funding programme to support local social action 
A new funding programme supporting communities to take action on issues which matter locally has been launched by the Big Lottery Fund and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The Placed Based Social Action programme will support established partnerships to put social action at the heart of plans to make a positive difference in their local area. The £4.5 million of National Lottery and government funding aims to increase the capacity of communities, civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses to work together to address priorities which matter to people locally.

Phase one of the programme is open to expressions of interest until 28 November 2017. During the first phase, successful partnerships will have one year to work with a support contractor to design their local action plan. In winter 2018, these partnerships will be eligible for a funding award of up to £240,000 to put these plans into action. Partnerships that want to develop and expand their plan for a further three years will be eligible for a further funding award of up to £255,000 in early 2021. Read more HERE. 

European Youth Foundation: Grants for International Youth Activities 
European Youth Foundation (EYF) is offering grants of up to €50,000 to support the work of international non-governmental youth organisations (NGOs) based in the 50 signatory countries to the European Cultural Convention (47 member states of Council of Europe plus Kazakhstan, Holy See and Belarus). Strategic priorities for the programme are decided biannually and for 2018 - 2019 these are:
  Access to rights
  Youth participation and youth work
  Inclusive and peaceful societies.

Grants can cover an international one-off activity or an annual work plan. Eligible organisations can apply for a grant of €25,000 per year for up to two years’ work. Where a grant is awarded for 2018, the same amount will be awarded in principle for 2019, based on the validation by the EYF of an interim report after one year. NGOs wishing to apply for a grant must first be registered online. The deadline is 1st April 2018. Read more HERE. 

Funding for projects that support women & girls in disadvantaged areas 
Rosa, a charitable fund set up to support initiatives that benefit women and girls in the UK has awarded grants totalling £766,580 to 55 projects across the UK through the second round of the Woman to Woman fund. This fund, supported by the so-called 'Tampon Tax', will support groups that work with women and girls from disadvantaged communities or in disadvantaged areas. Grants include:
£6,000 to Dynamic Support Manchester for a series of workshops to support refugee and asylum-seeking mothers
£6,802 to support the Dundee Women's Festival's 2018 event
£19,477 to BelEve UK to support a programme of workshops and mentoring for teenage girls.
The next round of Woman to Woman funding will open for applications in the New Year and those interested should sign up for news at: Read more HERE. 

Tech for Good Funding Programme
Comic Relief has teamed up with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to deliver the 2018 Tech for Good funding programme. The programme recognises the importance of digital technology and its potential to address some of our biggest social challenges and the 2018 funding programme will aim to help 12 not-for-profit organisations to develop their digital products or services. Successful organisations will receive funding of £15,000 - £47,000 for nine months alongside access to dedicated technical expertise and an intensive support programme between July 2018 and March 2019. This will include a residential camp at the start to connect the funded projects with leading tech for good experts, and ongoing mentoring and report back days. A public ‘wrap-up' event at the end of the funding will allow the projects to show what they have created with the grant and support.

The application process will open on the 13th November and the closing date for applications will be the 20th December 2018. Read more HERE.

Granada Foundation -
North West of England
Organisations (preferably with charitable status) based in the north-west of England are invited to approach the Granada Foundation with imaginative proposals for projects that will encourage and promote the study, practice and appreciation of science and the arts. The Foundation aims to make the region a richer and more attractive place in which to live and work. Currently, applications from projects that will engage and inspire people of all ages to take an interest in science are particularly welcome. Preference is given to new projects; festivals and other annual events are supported but there is no guarantee of year on year support. The Advisory Council of the Foundation meets to consider applications three times a year with the next meeting scheduled for February 2018. Read more HERE.  


Thursday, 16 November 2017

dates for the diary 2018

Welcome to the North West Arts & Health Network blog where your regular blogger is on research leave and thus, there are fewer regular postings than normal!

Two exciting things for the New Year so open your diaries and pencil them in if you're interested!

Vic McEwan presents The Harmonic Oscillator
Many of you will have seen the Australian contemporary artist Vic McEwan, when he last gave a presentation at Manchester School of Art in 2016. Over the last few years, Vic has spent time at the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Alder Hey as guest of its arts coordinator Vicky Charnock and Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care Dr Jane Ratcliffe - to whom my warmest thanks.

During his time there he has been given unprecedented access to much of the hospital in an exploration of the sonic environment - not to resolve sound problems - but to respond as an artist to the acoustic environment, and produce a body of work informed by his experiences. For my part, I have taken time out to be with him on his numerous visits and to quietly observe his encounters and practice. The work has been deeply moving, and I have been privileged to be part of a process that has enabled me to reflect deeply and write a book about his work, the nature of artists working in places of trauma, and share a story of some of the profound moments in arts and health. My work is called Critical Care and was published in Australia and launched at the Big Anxiety Festival in Sydney in September and for those reading in Australia it's available at the Museum of Contemporary Art bookshop, Gleebooks, Abbey's Bookshop and the UNSW.

So Vic and I will be giving a public presentation of our shared work at Manchester's flagship cultural centre HOME, and launching the book and the Harmonic Oscillator EP with 4 compositions created from sounds recorded at Alder Hey.

When: 23 January

Time: 10:15 - 12:30
Where: HOME
It's a free event, but you'll need to register for a ticket HERE.

(please note, there are limited numbers and priority is given to North West Arts & Health Network members) 

Creative Health Revisited
I can confirm that on the 6th February at Manchester School of Art, I will be facilitating a follow-up event to the launch of Creative Health which we held here in June this year. This will be a free ticketed event, and you will be able to register your interest in attending later this month. The event will be between 10:30 and 15:30, will be participatory and will explore some of the recommendations in relation to the North West, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. We will have a specific focus on the social determinants of health, and I'll be pleased to welcome the reports author, Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbit who will present on the report and focus down specifically on the social determinants. We will have some special guests, and I very much hope that a number of you reading this blog might want to share your work, particularly if you believe your work in some way, might influence health and wellbeing across the life course. So pencil it in, and I'll post more before the month is through.

Sky Arts launches new Art 50 funding round (UK)
Sky Arts has announced the launch of a new Art 50 funding round. Art 50 is seeking applications from artists from all walks of life and from all genres to create a piece of work which says something important and passionate about what it will mean to be British when we leave the EU. Artists can be fearful, excited, angry or happy on the subject. Applications can be submitted by anyone including schools, colleges and arts institutions. Applicants can apply for up to £50,000 but the majority of awards will be made between £5,000 and £20,000. The closing date for applications is midday on the 12th January 2018. Read more HERE.

Thinking of all the pompous, jumped up narcissists in the philanthropic world of arts and health right now (ok, they come and go, but how tedious are they when they're in the spotlight), here's a rapid edit of an old presentation called Fiction, Non-Fiction from 2013.

Disabled Artist Residency Opportunity
Bursary: £12,000 for 6 months starting January 2018
Application Deadline: Midnight 30 November 2017; Interviews: 19 December 2017
This is an artist residency opportunity for disabled artists (who identify as disabled people or have long term health conditions) who currently work or would like to develop their practice in the public realm. We are inviting applications from contemporary UK-based disabled artists with a collaborative, participatory approach to produce a contemporary art project that addresses and challenges perceptions of disability in Mid Rhondda.  The Equalities Act defines disability as: “A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".

Taking place between January and July 2018, the project will be led by the appointed artist’s practice but must seek to critically engage with the specific context of Mid Rhondda and with individuals / communities / groups in the area in seeking to address and challenge perceptions of disability. The details of this engagement are open to development and may range from conversations / dialogue to making, performance or other forms of production.  The artist will develop the format and outputs of the residency over an initial Research & Development Phase in January – March 2018.

It is expected that the residency will culminate in an event / exhibition / production to share the content and outcomes of the residency, the format of which will be developed through the residency and in collaboration with the project participants and partners.  The residency activity must take place within the Mid Rhondda area, which includes the areas of Tonypandy, Trealaw, Penygraig, Clydach and Llwynypia. The artist will be supported and mentored by Addo and Disability Arts Cymru. For a full brief and details of how to apply, please click HERE.

Drawing On Strengths
Creating a prototype of an arts-based asset audit tool for people in receipt of a dementia diagnosis
London Arts in Health Forum is collaborating with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to explore the role the arts can play for people immediately after a diagnosis of dementia. The aim is to commission a visual artist to create a new tool (using anything from drawing to digital applications) which will help people to map the positive aspects of their lives and to record, using visual means, the positive aspects of their lives. At the same time, we are researching what arts activities are already being employed for people in the period immediately following a dementia diagnosis.

Call out for artists and designers 
An artist is needed to help create an imaginative mapping tool that allows people to respond to the news of a dementia diagnosis by focusing on the current strengths and resources available to them in their lives as they face an uncertain future. Though a shared examination of what they feel best supports them to live well, the tool will allow people to feel more prepared, aware and reassured following what is commonly experienced as a debilitating and frightening diagnosis.

This is a partnership project between Mersey Care and London Arts in Health Forum that will explore the ways in which the arts can help people in the period immediately following a diagnosis of dementia. The successful candidate will be able to spend time shadowing Mersey Care’s existing post diagnostic support sessions and to then devise a tool for use in these sessions to help people to acknowledge and become more aware of the social and community assets in their lives.

A fee of £2400 will be awarded for work carried out between December 2017 and February 2018. This project is funded by The Creative Health and Wellbeing Hub, (AHRC). The closing date for applications is December 4th. For more information on this brief, click HERE.

+ Research call out
Alongside the artist intervention, a researcher is looking more widely at existing applications of arts based interventions in the period immediately post diagnosis. Little is known about the range and scale of arts interventions at this stage. We are looking for any organisations or individuals working in this area to get in touch if they have information about how they work creatively with people in this immediate post-diagnosis phase. Please contact

Arts and Cultural Practice in Green and Blue Spaces
This survey is trying to capture arts practice that is specifically engaging with issues of ecology, biodiversity, geographies and uses of green and blue spaces.
The survey is part of the research project “Green Infrastructure and the Health and wellbeing Influences on an Ageing population (GHIA)”. This is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council under the “Valuing Nature Programme”You can read about the project HERE. The project aims to better understand the benefits and values of urban green spaces to older people and how these spaces can be an important part of healthy ageing in urban areas. We are working closely with older people as co-researchers to develop this programme and wish to engage with artists, organisations and facilitators as co-designers. Findings from this survey will form part of the written outputs of the project and will be used to inform future research in this field. All data will be anonymised prior to publication. Take part in the survey HERE.


Sunday, 29 October 2017 yourself no matter what they say

OK - a whistle-stop blog from your blogger who is out of the country, and dealing with things remotely...

First things first - you'll know I'm trying to regroup for a North West Arts & Health big free event on January 5th at MMU. Why the 5th? Well, it's when the university is quiet, so we have more space, meaning it remains a free event. But I'm aware it's soon after the Christmas break and many people might not be able to attend. So to help me to decide whether to have it on the 5th or look to another date in the calendar, I'm asking that those of you who might want to attend a post-Creative Health Report event, and share your work and look forwards - fill in this simple - 'it's a good day - it's a bad day' - straw poll. Go on - even if it just gives me a general picture, it'll help. Click on Adam Parker Smith's crazy tiger (Prometheus) to cast your vote!

Now we all know funding is everything and here's something very interesting from the Department of Health focused on social prescribing. If it's not for you, please circulate to others who you think might be interested, as time is limited.

Health & Wellbeing Fund 2017/18 
The Department of Health and Public Health England have launched a new application round through the Health and Wellbeing Fund. The fund is part of the Health and Wellbeing programme. Each round focuses on a specific theme. The theme for this round is social prescribing.  Social prescribing is generally understood to be an intervention through which people are supported to access non-medical services in the community. Examples include befriending, art classes and exercise classes, but a wide variety of activities can be included. Typically, a community navigator/link worker will work with the individual to co-produce solutions that best suit their needs. Applications of up to £300,000 (in year 1) are being accepted from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.  The Government will be holding a series of webinars in September and October. The webinars will cover the application process and provide an opportunity for potential applicants to ask questions. The closing date for applications is the 21st November 2017. Read more by clicking on the HIV/AIDS posters below.

And for those of you trying to get to grips with how the NHS in England works. Here's a timely and alternative guide from The King's Fund to help you with that application perhaps!

New publication on local authorities, arts & older people
The Baring Foundation has produced a new report on local authorities, arts and older people entitled The Role of Local Authorities in Creative Ageing. The report and case studies provide a summary of the many benefits that the arts can bring to older people in improving their health and wellbeing, maintaining their independence, and reducing the costs of care. It also highlights the impact the arts can have on tackling loneliness. Click on the photo-booth image below.

New £4.5 million funding programme to support local social action (England)
A new funding programme supporting communities to take action on issues which matter locally has been launched by the Big Lottery Fund and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The Placed Based Social Action programme will support established partnerships to put social action at the heart of plans to make a positive difference in their local area. The £4.5 million of National Lottery and government funding aims to increase the capacity of communities, civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses to work together to address priorities which matter to people locally. Phase one of the programme is open to expressions of interest until 28 November 2017. During the first phase, successful partnerships will have one year to work with a support contractor to design their local action plan. In winter 2018, these partnerships will be eligible for a funding award of up to £240,000 to put these plans into action. Partnerships that want to develop and expand their plan for a further three years will be eligible for a further funding award of up to £255,000 in early 2021. Read more HERE.  

Artists International Development Fund (England)
Probably one of the more interesting opportunities from ACE, and one I've been luck enough to support artists successfully being awarded over the years, is this international opportunity. Give it a go - it's not as onerous an application as you might think. The next application deadline for the Arts Council England's Artists International Development Fund is 5pm on the 13th December 2017. This funding stream is for artists to develop links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in other countries. Self-employed and freelance artists can apply for small grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to spend time building these links to broaden your horizons and open their work to other perspectives. The programme is open to emerging and mid-career artists working in combined arts, literature, music, theatre, dance, visual arts and crafts and design. Applicants must have received recognition for their work in England and not have extensive international experience. The application must also include a letter of support from the overseas partner/host. Read more by clicking on the Orange Crush below.