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Welcome to Arts for Health

Hello and thank you for visiting the Arts for Health web pages. I hope that they give you some idea of our recent history, current activity and future aspirations. We are a small organisation working within a large university and our remit embraces research informed teaching at post-graduate level, alongside outwards facing advocacy for the arts, health and social change agenda.

Over the last decade we have been central to political developments in the field, both in the UK and internationally and with an extensive portfolio of research and consultancy, we are central to knowledge exchange and the reimagining of health and social change. This work spans early research around the factors underpinning wellbeing in the Invest to Save: Arts in Health Project (2003 - 2007) developed in partnership with the Department of Health and Arts Council England, to the AHRC funded study Exploring the Longitudinal Relationship Between Arts Engagement and Health (2015). Between 2014 and 2017 and with funding from the AHRC and ESRC we were part of one of the largest arts and dementia research projects: Dementia & Imagination, which explored the relationship between participation in the visual arts and impact on health, wellbeing and connectivity. The research findings of this work have gone on to influence arts practice and thinking through training, public events and a widely disseminated body of work.

Our work is all about people and place, and over the years we have worked with extraordinary people to influence the real-world impact that culture and the arts might play in peoples lives and from the Manifesto for Arts & Health, (2011) to the Recoverist Manifesto, (2014) and the more recent Manchester Declaration, (2019) our work galvanises people to be part of something bigger than themselves - a diverse community of interest. We have facilitated networking events across the North West over the last decade, as part of the drive to encouraging collective critical exchange and are a key part of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

The Arts & Health blog that began as a vehicle for networking a decade ago, now has a readership of between 5,000 and 10,000 people each month, many of whom are from a wider international community and it is through collaboration, virtual and physical, that we influence change.

With the advocacy of Sam Taylor-Wood (Johnson), Melvyn Bragg, and Will Self and earlier patronage of Lord Richard Attenborough and Dame Joan Bakewell - Arts for Health has attracted some strong champions. We recently published the Manchester Declaration as part of the 5-year well-spring of work that sits under the banner of the Manchester Institute for Arts, Health & Social Change. With the advocacy of Maxine Peake and Danny Boyle, this work is taking a slower and more nuanced ecological look at the health and cultural landscape across the city of Manchester, the wider city region of Greater Manchester and of course, its place in the national and international field of arts and health. We’re thrilled to have recruited Dr Clare Delaney to help develop this work.

For the last five years we have delivered an Optional Masters Unit for students in the Manchester School of Art and in 2020 we plan to launch a brand new Masters in Arts, Health & Social Change, details of which will be published on this website later this year. Our reputation as a leader in this field is justly deserved and it is our drive to work collaboratively that has been the key factor to our success. We work in tandem with diverse people and are unconstrained by disciplinary or professional boundaries. Our work begins with curiosity, a critical eye and a belief that the arts in all their forms, offer multiple opportunities for social change.

Clive Parkinson

Clive Parkinson
Director, Arts for Health