Understanding the role and contribution of the arts to wellbeing in health, social care and community settings.

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About us

The Centre for the Arts as Wellbeing embraces the social, personal, spiritual and political aspects of wellbeing. Our mission is to promote wellbeing in individuals, communities, organisations and the environment, through use of the arts.

Our vision is of the arts set in a healing context. It requires an understanding of how other cultures have used the arts as a rebalancing tool, looking at and valuing the work of musicians, dance and movement specialists, theatre performers and art/music therapists. We see the arts in wider contexts than just the concert hall or theatre and we explore new ideas for their relevance to the wider society.

Our aim is to understand the role and contribution of the arts to wellbeing in health, social care, arts organisations and in community settings. Key external partners of the Centre include the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Public Health Hampshire and the Royal Society of Public Health.

A registered charity, the Arts as Wellbeing Trust (originally the Music Research Institute) works alongside the Centre and aims to enable artists and arts organisations to develop their capacity in the arts and health.

Who we are

The Centre for Arts as Wellbeing was established in 2015 by Reverend Professor June Boyce-Tillman and is led by Dr David Walters. The multidisciplinary team comprises researchers studying areas including music and dementia; music and pain management; arts and urology, and singing and spirituality. In 2017 the Centre joined the University’s wider Health and Wellbeing Research Group.

To find out more about arts and wellbeing-related projects, contact Dr Kit Tapson. To find out more about music and spirituality, contact Reverend Professor June Boyce-Tillman

What we believe

We believe that performing arts practice is consciously related to personal, social, organisational, environmental and spiritual wellbeing. We are committed to arts as wellbeing in a community context including working within educational groups, along with hard-to-reach and marginalised people.

Objectives

  • To work in partnership with local, regional, national and international organisations to deliver high-quality research and knowledge exchange in the area of arts as wellbeing;
  • To develop best practice in performing and participatory arts as wellbeing in individuals, communities and organisations;
  • To embrace the social, spiritual and political aspects of wellbeing and the effect of the inculcation of societal values on the individual and the transformative effects upon artistic practice.

A registered charity, the Arts as Wellbeing Trust (originally the Music Research Institute) works alongside the Centre and aims to enable artists and arts organisations to develop their capacity in the arts and health.

Meet the team

Visiting Research/Knowledge Exchange Fellows

  • Dr Elizabeth Scott-Hall, former Assistant Musical Director, Vocal Tutor and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Winchester.
  • Shirley Taylor, former Assistant Head of Hampshire Music Service.
  • Dr Jill Bunce, a Dance Movement Psychotherapist and Educational Psychotherapist who established a degree in Dance and Movement Studies at Derby University, followed by an MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy.
  • Janet Sparkes, Head of the Movement Studies Department at the University of Winchester when it was King Alfred’s College.

Products and Services

The Centre hosts a broad research programme that explores the impacts of arts and culture on health and wellbeing. We also seek to understand the processes that shape experiences of arts, health and wellbeing in individuals and society.

Specifically, our current research includes:

  • Evidence reviews of arts & wellbeing in health and social care settings
  • Evaluation of music interventions for vulnerable populations
  • Development and evaluation of local arts & health projects (e.g. arts and men's urological and sexual health)
  • Consultancy and guided evaluations for projects in arts & wellbeing
  • Mixed methods and multidisciplinary research to enlighten the delivery of community music and arts projects
  • CPD and public engagement in the arts & health sector (Creative and Credible; Arts and Health Project Group, see below)

Arts and Health Project Group

AHPG members meet quarterly to discuss developing projects, share ideas and bring their expertise to bear upon the developing work of the Centre for Arts as Wellbeing. The Group contributes to the vision and direction of the Centre. This alliance is symbiotic since the Centre invests research support in pursuit of these goals.

Areas of interest include musical interventions to enhance the wellbeing of people with dementia, training programmes that facilitate care home staff to deliver creative activities to elderly residents that enhance their health, and artistic activities that improve the quality of life and clinical outcomes of men experiencing urological ill health.

Much of this work is realised through the collaboration with Public Health and the primary sector in the region, and particularly Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, where emphasis is upon finding non-pharmacological interventions that support developing policies for social prescribing.

For more information contact Holly Pye.

Postgraduate research

The Centre welcomes enquiries about postgraduate research in the area of arts as wellbeing. Explore our members' profiles pages above to find out more about their individual research strengths, and identify academics who can support you.

Find out more about Postgraduate Research Degrees at Winchester.

Impact

CAAW endeavours to influence policy, both at home in the UK and internationally, working to influence policy-makers through issues of importance in terms of wellbeing and the arts.

Regional impact

A unique partnership between Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust (HHFT) and the Centre for Arts as Wellbeing (CAAW) has led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding that, through various conjoint research projects, celebrates the relationship between the clinical and creativity. Examples of the work include a music intervention programme delivered to people with dementia in acute hospital settings. Academic articles from this research made the encouraging finding that music can enhance wellbeing for people with dementia, whilst also reducing their intake of psychotropic drugs. Learning from this study has been translated into a range of new research, further supporting the evidence base for the potential of the arts in relation to health.

National impact

CAAW's research on the relationship between arts and wellbeing is recognised and progressed through their alliance with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Public Health England (PHE), and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). These organisations are invested in funding and supporting academic establishments researching interventions directed at the health and wellbeing of populations and contributing to national policies to this effect.

What Works for Wellbeing

CAAW's collaboration with What Works for Wellbeing has put high-quality evidence on the arts and wellbeing into the hands of decision-makers in government, communities, businesses and other organisations. Their pioneering contribution to a review of wellbeing across the UK highlights ideas and solutions to improve lives through better policy and practice, underscoring CAAW's main aims and vision.

The reviews explore how to reduce wellbeing inequalities, using robust, relevant and accessible evidence to inform decision-making. They underpin that there is a significant and growing data infrastructure for wellbeing in the UK that can be used, and indeed is being used, to understand what government, businesses, communities and the public can do to improve wellbeing.

CAAW's conclusions from the reviews have contributed to The Inquiry Report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing - Second Edition. This was commissioned by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, whose aim is to improve awareness of the benefits that the arts can bring to health and wellbeing. It presents the findings of two years of research, evidence-gathering and discussions with patients, health and social care professionals, artists and arts administrators, academics, people in local government, ministers, other policy-makers and parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament.

Key recommendations:

  • That leaders from within the arts, health and social care sectors, together with service users and academics, establish a strategic centre, at national level, to support the advance of good practice, promote collaboration, coordinate and disseminate research and inform policy and delivery.
  • That the Secretaries of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Health, Education and Communities and Local Government develop and lead a cross-governmental strategy to support the delivery of health and wellbeing through the arts and culture.
  • That, at board or strategic level, in NHS England, Public Health England and each clinical commissioning group, NHS trust, local authority and health and wellbeing board, an individual is designated to take responsibility for the pursuit of institutional policy for arts, health and wellbeing.
  • That those responsible for NHS New Models of Care and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships ensure that arts and cultural organisations are involved in the delivery of health and wellbeing at regional and local level.

Creative and Credible

CAAW's Arts for Health and Wellbeing evaluative framework, designed by Professor Norma Daykin, is increasingly recognised by researchers, local services, practitioners and commissioners as a valuable tool for evaluating approaches, outcome measures, and assessing the impact of their work. Gathering the right evidence can seem challenging to those unfamiliar with the language of healthcare, medicine or social sciences, and the central tenets of the framework have been modified as an evaluative workshop training course known as Creative and Credible. These workshops aim to demystify evaluation, aiding artists to evidence the impact of their work.

Empowered with their new knowledge, artists from the Arts and Health Project Group, comprising expert practitioners from diverse fields, have contributed to exciting initiatives such as cultural commissioning and social prescribing, helping to meet local needs through innovative practice, projects and programmes.

Arts for Health and Wellbeing: An Evaluative Framework has also been recognised by Public Health England, whose quest is to protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. This document provides guidance on appropriate ways of documenting the impacts of arts for health and wellbeing, whether through small-scale project evaluations or large-scale research studies. It suggests a standard framework for the reporting of project activities that will strengthen understanding of what works in specific contexts and enable realistic assessment and appropriate comparisons to be made between programmes.

International impact

Professor Norma Daykin and Reverend Professor June Boyce- Tillman MBE have stimulated influential alliances such as that between the University of Winchester and North West University, South Africa. Nurtured by Prof. Boyce-Tillman, this relationship extends the vision of the University of Winchester, by promoting unitary, integrated collaboration that facilitates equity. 

Another international alliance comes through the work of Prof. Daykin, whose recent appointment to the University of Tampere, Finland, alongside her work in CAAW, helps advance a cultural commitment to higher education and the social mission of educating artistic visionaries who understand the wellbeing world and make a difference to it.

Links and partnerships

Contact us

For general enquiries, contact the Centre for the Arts as Wellbeing Administrator, Holly Pye.

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