Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry
King’s College London in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) chaired by Rt Hon. Lord Howarth of Newport and Rt Hon. Ed Vaizey MP
An Inquiry, launched by the APPGAHW in November 2015, explored the benefits of arts engagement to health and wellbeing with the aim of developing policy recommendations and informing a vision for political leadership in the field. The inquiry comprised a series of meetings and 16 round tables at which parliamentarians, health and social care professionals, practitioners, academics and people with lived experience of health conditions came together to share perspectives on the challenges faced in making good practice more widespread and sustainable. In parallel with these discussions, King’s researcher, Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, conducted more than a year of desk-based research and combined her findings with those of the wider Inquiry process to draft a substantial report. Furthermore, in the summer of 2016, King’s oversaw a call for practice examples on behalf of the Inquiry, the results of which were also integrated into the research process. (The submissions can be viewed on the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing web pages.)
In July 2017, the final report of the APPGAHW Inquiry, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, was launched at the House of Commons. It is the most comprehensive overview of the field to date. It looks at ways in which arts engagement might help to mitigate the social determinants of health, defined by the World Health Organisation as the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. The report makes ten recommendations to Ministers, officials and a range of individuals and groups involved in the delivery, research, training and funding of the arts in health, social care and the community.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director, Institute of Health Equity, University College London:
'The mind is the gateway through which the social determinants impact upon health, and this report is about the life of the mind. It provides a substantial body of evidence showing how the arts, enriching the mind through creative and cultural activity, can mitigate the negative effects of social disadvantage. Creative Health should be studied by all those commissioning services.'
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive Care England: Independent Dementia Champion, Department of Health:
'This excellent report highlights the important role that arts and culture can play in the lives of people who receive care and support. Access to arts and culture it vital to maintaining a sense of identity, and it clearly improves people's quality of life. Care services that have embraced the arts and culture as an essential part of delivering holistic support are highly regarded by people who use services and their families, and there are also many benefits to the staff who work in care.'
Creative Health has received positive press coverage across the political spectrum and has catalysed responses from individuals and organisations in the cultural, health and political spheres:
- On 11 October, Rt Hon. Ed Vaizey MP, co-Chair of the APPG on Arts Health and Wellbeing, led a parliamentary debate on the effect of the arts on health. Find the Hansard report of the debate, including responses and reference to Creative Health here.
- Sally-Anne Donaldson, Director of Creative Homes, responded to Creative Health.
- David McKenny, Musician and Director of Pulse Arts, responded to Creative Health
- Download Creative health: the arts for health and wellbeing, the final Inquiry report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
Hard copies of the Inquiry report can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt has successfully applied for follow-on funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council to focus on advocacy and dissemination of the report and its findings through a programme of national conferences targeting health professionals, policy makers and the cultural sector.
In addition to King's College London, the Inquiry was supported by the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, which provides the Secretariat for the APPG, by Guy’s & St Thomas’s Charity and by the Royal Society for Public Health Special Interest Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. It was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Arts & Humanities Research Council.