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The Art of Being Healthy + Well

This week saw a landmark natioanl symposyium on the role of creativity and arts in health and wellbeing from Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

The symposium sought to consider the evidence base regarding the health benefits from the creative arts, discuss arts and health activities in hospitals that can help deliver better health outcomes for patients and their carers, explore the operational role of the arts, cultural and creative sectors in delivering healthcare and wellbeing in the community.

Attended by Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, today announced a national symposium on creativity, health and wellbeing to be held on Wednesday 22 June 2022.

and co-hosted by all-of-government Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Health Service Executive and the Arts Council with policy-makers and practitioners from the health, arts and culture sectors to consider how best to harness the powerful contribution creative engagement can make to our health and wellbeing.

Interventions based on arts, culture and creativity in community and healthcare settings have been shown to improve people’s health, and to contribute to the prevention of mental and physical ill health, as well as to the management of a range of long term conditions.

In particular, the symposium sought to provide an opportunity to consider the evidence base regarding the health benefits of participation in the creative arts, discuss arts and health activities in hospitals that can help deliver better health outcomes for patients and their carers, and explore the operational role of the arts, culture and creative sectors in delivering healthcare and wellbeing in the community. Panellists will be senior Irish policy-makers from the health and the culture sectors, as well as national and international experts in the field.

Minister Catherine Martin said:

“The benefits that arts, culture and creative engagement bring to people’s mental wellbeing are increasingly being recognised in research. Indeed, this understanding was brought into very sharp focus during COVID-19 and the periods of social isolation we experienced as a result. I am, therefore, committed to collaborating with colleagues across Government to bring forward targeted, evidence-based initiatives that deliver benefits to health and wellbeing through arts, culture and creativity in a sustainable manner.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said:

“The first mission of the Programme for Government is to ensure ‘A Better Quality of Life for All’ using a variety of wellbeing indicators. To that end, and, together with colleagues across Government, I am committed to the continued promotion of health and wellbeing as a personal, social and economic good for people individually, but also for population as a whole.

“The arts are essential to the health and wellbeing of our society particularly in bringing communities together. In fact, the World Health Organisation has highlighted the benefits of the arts and creativity in general in prevention of ill health, promotion of good health, and management and treatment of illness at all ages.

“I am delighted that my department has been in a position to fund and support targeted initiatives that build on this positive association between creative engagement and our mental health and wellbeing and I look forward to the outputs of this symposium to further our understanding and collaboration in this area.”

Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council said:

“The value of the arts to society, in terms of facilitating increased health, wellbeing, connection, imagination, learning, enjoyment and wider cultural and socio-economic benefits has become increasingly accepted, and was underscored further during the recent period of public health restrictions bought about by COVID-19.

“The Arts Council also sees and values the contribution of health professionals, health service users, carers, friends and volunteers, to the development of the arts in Ireland. We are delighted to be partnering with our colleagues in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the HSE and the Department of Health on this initiative.”

Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the HSE said:

“The HSE are supporting the cross government strategy, Healthy Ireland, for many years and are delighted to be a key partner for this symposium. We are working in partnership to expand and promote the development of arts in healthcare service delivery, for our service users and staff, which supports and improves overall wellbeing. We welcome events such as this, bringing healthcare workers and partners together to share learning.”

The symposium will be a hybrid of in-person and online formats with the in-person event taking place in the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Programme Manager for Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre Justing Foster was represented on a panel in her roles as Programme Manager for Arts for Helath West Cork and Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland. The Panel Explored Arts and Creativity as a Strategy for Community Wellbeing along with Maureen Kennelly Arts Council Director, Yvonne O’Neill HSE Community Operations hosted by Olivia O’Leary.

Justine commented after the event, ‘This was an excellent event that promises to have appositive legacy for Arts and Health in Ireland. AHCI have identified four key goals which we think will positively progress arts and health in Ireland, ‘ Establishing Professional standards, sustainable resources and contractual agreements for all Arts and Health practitioners, ensuring equal commitment from Arts and Health sectors Partners, The Integration of Arts and Health into national policy and decision-making and Access to the arts for all, regardless of health status, geography or means – So the Arts are embedded into our culture of healthcare’

Shared at the event were two wonderful examples of practice from Music + Health Ireland (Limeric )and Waterford Healing Arts Trust (Waterford)

Limerick: https://youtu.be/A8ab67VvWEQ

Waterford: https://youtu.be/rk5EGbcM-bE