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Founded on a principle of equal partnership between arts and health sectors, arts and health is a specific field of work that is characterised by clear artistic vision, goals and outcomes that seek to enhance individual and community health and well-being. Arts and Health Policy and Strategy, 2010.

The Arts for Health (AfH) programme lends itself to partnership by its very nature.

The Arts for Health partnership model reflects a sustainable approach to arts and health provision, demonstrating a proactive way to make best use of locally embedded resources and expertise. The management structure and inter-agency partnership exists to implement, develop and promote the Arts for Health programme in line with the policy objectives of partner organisations. In addition to all agencies serving our communities, commonality lies in goals that support  strategic partnerships, commitment to research and development and sustainable programming.

This effective partnership comprises West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, Cork Education & Training Board and HSE. HSE is represented through Cork South Community Work Department, Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and Day Care Centres, Community Services, West Cork and was initiated with the Health Promotion Department.

Each partner independently describes their vision, rationale and guiding strategies for participation in the Arts for Health Partnership Programme:


Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre is an arts facility that creates opportunities for the people of West Cork to have access to, and engagement with, local and global arts practice of excellence. West Cork Arts Centre envisions a regional hub of arts excellence, with equity of access to cultural engagements, where all are welcome.


Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare is part of Health Service Executive (HSE), a large organisation of over 100,000 people, whose job is to run all of the public health services in Ireland. It manages services through a structure designed to put patients and clients at the centre of the organisation.


The Arts Office has responsibility for all aspects of Cork County Council’s service delivery in the Arts within the Cork County Administrative Area. The Arts Office is a section of the County Library and Arts Service and operates under the Directorate of Corporate, Community and Economic Development.


Cork Education and Training Board is a driving force of education and training in Cork, providing high quality services which are innovative, responsive and inclusive. Through Cork ETB there is a pathway for every learner.

Mapping Project at Clonakilty DCC with artist Julia Pallone 2010

“Everyone should have the opportunity to freely exercise their own imagination and not just passively consume ‘Art’.
‘Art’ as a verb and not a noun. “

Holly Marland, Royal Northern College of Music

“We are not just ‘passing time’. This is valuing time passed, taking time, and creating times.”

Marielle MacLeman, Artist

“If the arts hadn’t been invented we would now do so as a front line health service.”

Alan Yates, Chief Executive – Mersey Care NHS Trust

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Education and Community programme provides an important resource and support for artists living and working locally and nationally. It presents creative engagement opportunities for communities that increase arts participation and make accessible, critical cultural experiences for a rural community.

The participatory practice West Cork Arts Centre supports is for a ‘conversation’ between artists and participants; a learning community where the artworks, the artist and the participants all contribute to the project and to the learning.

Its programme is an exemplary model of exposition, mediation and engagement’ The Arts Council, funding assessment 2015

Central to the work of West Cork Arts Centre is our commitment to public access and engagement with the arts. Outlined in the Uillinn Public Engagement Strategy 2016 – 2020 is a ‘commitment to partnership, integrated programming, collaborative practice, artist supports, inclusivity and accessibility and maintaining excellence in the areas of arts and health, arts and older people.’

Our work is supported by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon who are committed to  creating opportunities for increased engagement in the arts by particular communities through investing in artists and arts organisations with a commitment to high-quality collaborative, community focused arts practice.’ The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Making Great Art Work, Leading the Development of the Arts in Ireland, Arts Council Strategy (2016–2025) Public Engagement: objective seven.

WCAC supports our right to participate in the artistic and cultural life of our country in whatever way we may choose, regardless of our age. Recognising the form of participation will be different for each individual. For some, it will be an opportunity to engage directly with an art form: to learn techniques, explore ideas and create new work. For others, it will be an opportunity to engage with the work of others: to watch, listen, enjoy and be challenged by new perspectives and modes of expression.

For some the honing of artistic skills and the satisfaction that is derived from finished work will be the most important elements of the experience, while for others, it will be the personal journey undertaken during the creative process, with no product at all. Whatever mode of participation is chosen, the arts experience on offer should be meaningful and of the highest possible quality.

Cork County Council

A strategic objective of Cork County Council is to work to create or improve opportunities for all members of our community to have access to and enjoy active lifelong participation in the arts. Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork is an excellent example of the development of a structured programme of creative arts activity in the five community Hospitals and five public day-care centres in West Cork.

It has brought together local authority, health, arts and education providers to address the question of how the arts can improve the quality of life of older people in the region. It has created an environment in which conversations and exchanges of ideas between all partners, artists, service users and their families constantly help shape a dynamic programme that enhances the lives of older people involved in this programme. The work completed through Arts for Health has in turn helped to shape arts policy in Cork County Council and is now regarded as an excellent model of arts development nationally.

Cork County Education and Training Board (CETB)

As a driving force in education and training in Cork we value the partnership approach that the Arts for Health model offers. It allows us to promote arts and health as a valuable lifelong learning tool. In line with our vision of providing high quality services which are innovative, responsive and inclusive, Cork ETB rolled out a QQI Level 5 Arts for Healthcare professionals programme in 2015 and proposed similar programmes going forward.

The programme encompasses ideologies outlined in the Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education, ‘the role of adult education in enabling individual members of the society to grow in self-confidence, social awareness and to take an active role in shaping the overall direction of society – culturally and socially’ (p.29).

Learning for Life; White Paper on Adult Education, Department of Education and Science, 2000, enshrined the following concept: lifelong learning, social inclusion, equality and justice, active citizenship and partnership. The Arts for Health Partnership Programme encompasses all of these concepts and more. Education through partnership and the involvement of the community (hospitals and day care centres), West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, HSE and the artists in this programme is evidence of strong and effective collaboration. The flexibility, creativity and continuous evaluation of the programme are also in keeping with the agency ethos.

Health Service Executive (HSE)

The HSE Health Promotion Strategic Framework (2011) introduces a model that illustrates the main structural elements of health promotion for the HSE. This work takes place in three settings; Health Service, Community and Education. The Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork provides services consistent with this model in which:

1) Health services are reoriented through community participation, mobilisation and the provision of socially inclusive services
2) Supportive environments for health are created by the use of multi-strand approaches to promote and enhance health through lifestyle, behavioural and social-environmental approaches and through full engagement in collaborative partnerships.

This approach supports the ethical principles set out in Healthy Ireland, A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013 – 2025. The principles of equity, fairness, proportionality, openness and accountability, solidarity and sustainability are evident in the strategy. It also responds to the 2013 National Positive Ageing Strategy Positive Ageing Starts Now, which seeks to promote the development of opportunities for engagement and participation of people of all ages in a range of activities including the arts. Furthermore the work of the Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork is congruent with the Healthy Ireland framework for actions with its emphasis on partnership and cross-sectoral working, empowering people and communities, through research, evidence, monitoring, reporting and evaluation. This strategic approach ensures that an active meaningful and meaning making life can be enjoyed through to older age across the eleven settings in which the programme operates.

Cork Arts + Health Programme

Cork Arts and Health Programme ( C.A.H.P.) is a HSE initiative based in the Cork South Community Work Department C.A.H.P. It operates primarily from a social inclusion perspective and is committed to the development of an arts and health agenda that will effectively contribute to the promotion of individual and community health and wellbeing. C.A.H.P’s work encompasses both a wide spectrum of age groups and various care programmes within the health services and the health related voluntary community sector. C.A.H.P. actively develops relevant partnerships with other statutory and voluntary / community services to enhance both the resources available for projects and to ensure the most effective outcomes for participants / service users.

Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork has provided and continues to provide an evolving model of excellence in relation to the development of a managed arts programme working with older people in hospital and day care settings. C.A.H.P. is particularly interested in the programme’s capacity to become embedded into the life of the settings in which it works and the learning from this approach for the wider arts and health agenda / settings / programmes.

HSE Daycare Centres

The Vision of the Healthy Ireland 2013-2025, “where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential, where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society and is everyone’s responsibility”

In keeping with this vision, participation in the Arts for Health Partnership Programme is a core component of Day Care Centre social care activity in the West Cork centres. For service users it empowers people to reach their potential, learn new skills and enables clients, at all levels of dependency, to participate in an activity which enhances their cognitive, emotional and social wellbeing and produces positive mental and physical outcomes across the client spectrum. In keeping with the Strategy, the Arts for Health programme promotes participation and cross sectoral work.

HSE Community Hospitals

Sister hospitals in Clonakilty, Schull, Dunmanway Castletownbere and Skibbereen Community Hospital provide services which include acute care, rehabilitation, respite, palliative and continuing care. Other services, including activity programmes, are an integral part of the operating philosophy of a community hospital complex. There are over 76,000 people over the age of 65 in the Cork and Kerry region i.e. 12% of the total population. Nationally this is expected to rise to 1.4 million by 2041(CSO 2013). In the same period the number of people over 80 is expected to rise by 250%. Ageing on this scale is unprecedented in Irish history. At the same time the number of dependant older people is expected to rise. There are 194 patients cared for in the five community hospitals in West Cork. Bantry General Hospital provides for extra patients in long term care.

The Arts for Health Partnership Programme has become part and parcel of the activities in long stay units throughout. Working with the arts recognises and values the creativity of older people, enhances the self-worth and dignity of the participants as well as being a pleasurable experience.

Arts for Health helps us in our vision for the older adult of ‘Improving the health and quality of the life of the individuals and communities we serve’ as set out in Ageing with confidence – A strategy for the people of Cork & Kerry.

Arts for Health is an essential element in the social care needs of older adults in residential care and is an integral part of our activities programme which helps us to meet the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland as set out by the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA). Standard number 16

Involvement in arts and cultured activities makes a difference to the quality of life of our residents. Arts for Health, is a large contributor to this. The programme stimulates our residents to express themselves through the medium of art, poetry and music. This is a new opportunity for most of our residents. The existence of an arts programme in community hospitals fulfils the requirement to meet HIQA