Engage Conference 2018: A Social Prescription

The Engage Conference 2018 explored the intersection between arts, health, wellbeing and education.

Hosted by the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, a centre for excellence in arts and health, we invited educators, curators, researchers, artists and policymakers to discuss the immense diversity of approaches to arts and health in current practice.

It is widely recognised that engagement with the arts not only has a positive impact on wellbeing, but can support recovery, improve healthcare, staff wellbeing, and help reduce NHS spending. Interdisciplinary work in arts and health is plentiful in gallery education – learning and engagement teams have forged partnerships with health and social care services, charities, artists, technologists, researchers in Higher Education and clinicians within the UK and across the world. From maternity and neonatal care through to older age, creative activity is being embraced as an element in tackling some of the health inequalities that face society today.

A Social Prescription aimed to give an insight into the myriad ways in which practitioners are embracing the arts and health agenda, from rethinking urban planning and embracing Virtual Reality, to changing the ways in which clinicians are trained and how we measure wellbeing.

Insightful plenaries focused on diverse approaches to community engagement and partnership working between arts and non-arts organisations.

Small parallel sessions delivered within an atmosphere of critical and supportive dialogue enabled delegates to learn about different aspects of arts and health work in one the following three themes:

  • Where and how we live, work and recover
  • Wellbeing
  • Re-education: artists and clinicians
  • An ethics committee discussed questions around wellbeing, collections and equalities in the gallery setting

A speed mentoring session offered delegates the opportunity to discuss professional issues — fast — with colleagues from across the sector.

Session contributors also related practical experience from a range of projects supporting children and young people, older people, people with dementia and those with physical and mental health conditions.