Arts, Health and Wellbeing Workshop March 16th By Creative Producer Viv Reiss

The workshop brought together arts and health providers, beneficiaries, funders and commissioners with the aim of shifting thinking and systems so as to unlock the potential of arts-led work for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of local people.

Will Nicholson, Heath Foundry Connector, welcomed over 50 participants across primary, secondary and community health settings to the workshop. He talked about the wealth of arts and health programmes in Southwark and Lambeth and the importance of working collaboratively with shared responsibility in taking this initiative forward.

Jane Nash, Narativ led a Listening and Storytelling Icebreaker setting an intention for how we listen. She got people into groups of four to tell a two minute story about a significant moment for them in the previous week. She talked about the power of all our stories and the idea that all these snapshots will show who we are as a group.

This was followed by a Playback Session in which Marsaili Cameron gave an overview of key issues arising from the previous arts, health and wellbeing event.  She talked about the paradox of growing interest in arts and health at national and international level and increasingly impressive evidence about clinical and other outcomes but in practice, despite the range of highly successful projects, a continuing harsh struggle for funding at local level. She also stressed the importance of co-production as a guiding principle in this work, she referred to two of the projects we heard about at the previous event making fundamental changes to their intervention following feedback from potential beneficiaries. Medical student Mao Lim and Amanda O’Boyle from The Reader added their perceptions of key insights from the previous event.


Participants then took part in a visioning exercise In 10 years time – Snapshots of our Working Life. This was introduced by Alex Coulter, Director of Arts and Health Southwest who re-presented an image showing shared territory for a new world.

Alex set the scene for group discussion and activity creating a long-term vision for arts, health and wellbeing. In a plenary session each group talked a little bit about the process and their story or vision.

The second part of the workshop involved getting practical and exploring two focus areas of need and priorities for the health system. These were areas where the arts can compliment how things are done and act as a catalyst to change the way the system approaches them. The proposal was to work on something together to build relationships and trust and to work towards the bigger vision.

Will Nicholson gave an overview of Local Care Networks and Multiple Long Term Conditions and Sarah Hickey, Head of Strategy at GSTC talked about the complexity of tackling Childhood Obesity.

For the final Creative Challenge Exercise the groups set their minds to thinking about either the multiple long term conditions or childhood obesity focus. They were tasked with examining the issues and coming up with different ways to offer creative/artistic input.

The workshop ended with a space for Reflection and Setting Intentions where participants made suggestions for next steps. Comments covered the following - sharing resources and peer support as well as suggestions for areas for intervention and people and organisations to connect and work with.

Drawing on the ideas and principles identified during the workshop, as well as proposals for next steps, a working group will develop a plan of action. Please email Viv Reiss if you would like further information.