Health, Imagination and Creativity
The Marmot Review on health inequalities (2010) called for ‘courage and imagination’ to be restored to the NHS, with a priority objective to “ensure that schools, families and communities work in partnership to reduce the gradient in health, well-being and resilience, and create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities”. That objective has actually been at the core of CMH’s arts in health work over the last decade, developing a cluster of schools-based projects in Northern England to undertake participatory action research into collective creativity and flourishing. Across four principal domains of arts in health work - sustained field projects, knowledge transfer, capacity building programmes and international collaborations – we want to assess the contribution of creative imagination to medicine, healthcare and public health within a shared reflective practice that establishes effective arts in health as a hybrid rather than specialist activity. CMH staff and affiliates, including Sarah Atkinson, Martyn Evans, Jennifer Laws, Jane Macnaughton, Mary Robson, Corinne Saunders, Mike White, Angela Woods and a number of our postgraduate students have sought to nurture the development of new local traditions that connect culture, health education and citizenship, and bring into alignment the social determinants of health with a community’s on-going commitment to inclusive and cohesive celebration.
The pioneering and awarding-winning work of Mary Robson and Mike White has generated the Common Knowledge initiative, which provides learning support for artists, health professionals of all kinds, teachers, local government staff, and voluntary sector workers. A summary of various university-community projects can be found here. Other recent work in arts and health has explored how understandings of movement contribute to well-being (Atkinson and Rubridge, 2012), work that promotes an holistic approach to arts and public health (White, 2009), the annual lantern parades at Tilery, UK, and an artist exchange with health and arts practitioners in Australia.
We are pleased to be working with Disability in the arts, Disadvantage in the Arts Australia (DADAA) and Australian Centre for Arts and Health.
Future work aims to assess the impact individual and communal storytelling can have on emotional health in stressed communities, and how arts in health projects can support children in transition through the education system.
To find out more about this research email: firstname.lastname@example.org