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Engage International Conference 2018

Reading and listening list

For anyone interested in exploring the themes of conference prior to their arrival in Manchester in November, A Social Prescription's reading and listening list aims to create a space for resources, articles and other media related to the arts and health sector.


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What is social prescribing?
The King's Fund

'Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.'


'It's time to recognise the contribution arts can make to health and wellbeing' 
Nicola Slawson for The Guardian

'The arts help meet challenges in health and social care associated with ageing, loneliness, long-term conditions and mental health.'


Arts-based learning for a circle of care, published in The Lancet
Suzy Willson & Peter Jaye (2017) 

'Over the past 3 years, staff at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust have been offered courses that draw on ideas from theatre, dance, and the visual arts as part of a collaboration between the Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre (SaIL) and the Performing Medicine programme...'


Arts-based interventions in healthcare education, published in Medical Humanities

Magda Osman, Bella Eacott & Suzy Willson

'Healthcare education institutions are increasingly including arts-based interventions in their programmes. We analysed 62 studies of arts-based interventions to understand how these interventions may be beneficial, and why providing evidence continues to be a challenge for the field.'


Arts-based Learning in Medical Education: The Risks, in Risk and Regulation at the Interface of Medicine and the Arts: Selected Papers from the Association for Medical Humanities

Suzy Willson & A. Peterkin

'This book brings together an edited selection of presentations from the Association for Medical Humanities annual conference 2015, held at Dartington Hall, UK, that address the question: How might innovative performing arts help to develop medical education and practice? It includes papers and accounts of both keynote talks and performances, presenting cutting-edge activity, thinking and research in the medical and health humanities.'


Moving Medicine, in Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq

Suzy Willson

'As I began to investigate medical education, I came to realise that in some powerful sense, the experience of being a body had become removed from the discourse between doctors and patients, teachers and students...'





What are cultural needs and how do they relate to health and care needs?
A blog by Art in Healthcare looking at the crossover between 'cultural needs' and 'health and care needs'

"The idea of cultural need is that every human being is innately creative and will flourish when these needs are met through opportunities to engage creatively. 

Cultural needs can be met in a wide variety of ways.  The evidence of the health and wellbeing benefits of accessing the arts is one important example of how this can be achieved, particularly as some life experiences can limit, frustrate and sublimate cultural needs."


What can culture do for healthcare?
A blog by Darren Henley for Arts Council England

"Creativity in all its forms is an essential part of being human, and vital for wellbeing. More research is needed, but a series of high-quality studies are emerging which show the health benefits of cultural activities – whether that’s picking up a book, visiting a museum or joining a choir.

A recent influential Parliamentary report, Creative Health, found that one arts on prescription project administered by the charity Artlift led to a 37% drop in GP visits and a 39% reduction in hospital admissions. This produced a net saving of £216 per patient."


"The north west arts and health network is changing - flexing and evolving with the times - still with its feet firmly on the ground in the north of England, but responsive to the many international voices that get in touch. the arts should be central to contemporary society. we will share opportunities - both local and global - and offer timely responses to the cultural and political factors that perpetuate societal inequalities, which exclude people from the arts, and impact on public health."


Why I use art to cope with my rare disease
A blog by artist and doctor Shanali Perera

"Based in Manchester, I am a doctor retired due to health reasons, who started using digital medium to create art with the focus on illness experience and adaptive coping - while recovering and adjusting to living with a chronic illness. I have used digital art to transform illness experience into a more meaningful way of living, moving from practitioner to patient, after becoming a patient in my own specialty. 

My work is centred on sharing the impact digital art has on supporting me to take control and manage my long-term condition. I aim to raise awareness about creative engagement as a tool to face challenges imposed by chronic illnesses. As well as generate an interest on how expressions of the ‘lived experience’ can help health practitioners and the public gain new insights beyond patients’ illnesses.

Being a doctor and a patient, I had the opportunity to gain an unique perspective around art, healing and the illness journey. Gaining valuable insights into the patient experience. First hand experience of what losing control feels like and although I cant control my symptoms or my day, I can control what I create, which gave me a sense of achievement. Thus allowing me to regain some of that control. Establishing a sense of purpose inspires forward movement, enduring challenges of an illness. It is very useful to have a tool such as art to cope, along with other meds/therapies one takes, to help adapt and adjust to changes, which becomes a significant component in managing a long term condition."





Arts for Health

Podcasts from Clive Parkinson and other members of the Arts for Health team on a range of themes, including an audio version of their 2011 Arts and Health Manifesto.


BBC Radio 4 - Inside Health

In this episode of Inside Health, Dr Marie Polley, senior lecturer in health sciences at the University of Westminster and co-chair of the Social Prescribing Network (with Dr Michael Dixon) tells Dr Mark Porter that social prescribing will be embedded within medical and social care in the next decade as long as the voluntary sector is supported.




Artists in Hospitals Toolkit

The Artists in Hospitals Toolkit brings together current knowledge about working in an NHS context in Wales as an artist, including commissioning, contracting, evaluation, and working with staff.

This toolkit was developed by members of the South Wales Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network as part of the ArtWorks Cymru Seed Fund in 2015, and was revised in 2017.


Arts and Health in Wales

In Wales, the Arts Council has been supporting activity in this field for some time. It was particularly gratifying in May 2017 to hear the Director of the Baring Foundation say that Wales ‘leads the world’ in Arts for older people. But Arts in Health work, so powerful in relation to dementia and the care home experience, is having beneficial impact across the full ranges of age, class and geography in Wales. 


Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) was formed in 2014 and aims to improve awareness of the benefits that the arts can bring to health and wellbeing. During 2015–17, the APPGAHW conducted an Inquiry into practice and research in the arts in health and social care, with a view to making recommendations to improve policy and practice. Our partners in this Inquiry have been the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, King’s College London, the Royal Society for Public Health and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. We are extremely grateful to our funders, Wellcome, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Dementia & Imagination: Research informed approaches to visual arts programmes

In 2013 and with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, the Dementia & Imagination team established a clear set of principles to underpin its visual arts research programme with people experiencing dementia in three geographical areas of the UK: North Wales, Derbyshire and Newcastle.


Insights for employers, commissioners and funders in facilitating quality impacts through participatory arts

An analysis undertaken... for Creative Scotland to capture and crystallise concepts of quality in participatory arts has pulled together evolving perspectives that, combined, embody a paradigm shift in thinking on the issue. Drawing on a number of sources including several ArtWorks studies, the analysis highlights a significant new way of approaching the tricky question of how we can get optimum quality artist interventions in participatory settings.



cARTrefu, which means to reside in Welsh, is a four year programme run by Gwanwyn which aims to improve access to quality arts experiences for older people in residential care. Between 2015 and 2017 Age Cymru recruited 16 professional artists in four different fields: Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Words and Music.




The Bethlem Royal Hospital in south London is the world's oldest psychiatric institution, treating patients for nearly eight centuries. Previously known as Bedlam, over the years the hospital has acquired a huge and significant collection of art and artefacts, much of it by patients. BBC News was given access to the new space to see how art can play a role in mental health and met one former patient whose work is included in the exhibition.


What do the arts have to do with medicine? Dancer and medical researcher Jill Sonke explores the important relationship between creative expression and health for patients with serious medical illness.


Dance Well is Akademi’s participatory and performance programme to improve the health and wellbeing of the general population through the medium of South Asian Dance. Akademi’s learning and participation dance artists deliver workshops and intimate performances for all ages; from young children to older adults, in a range of settings from community organisations and care homes to hospital atriums and wards. Find out more here.


Have you created or come across a resource, article, podcast or blog post that you think this year's conference delegates would find useful?

We're aware that there's a wealth of fantastic material out there that deserves to be added to this living resource page. If you've made or know of something that deserves to be on here get in touch with us on info@engage.org, with the subject line as 'Reading and listening list'

Engage International Conference 2018
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