The Art of Wellbeing


(vocals) – Today is a series of discussions and provocations about the relationship between the arts and wellbeing. It’s actually part of
Creativity and Wellbeing Week, which is a nationwide
festival of all things that connect creativity and culture with health and wellbeing. – And as a network, we’re
really really interested in how deep a meaningful
engagement and participation in culture and creative activity impacts on individual and community wellbeing. We want it to be about
honest conversation, provocation, debate, and exchange. – Can art really heal this place, and should it be expected to? If the Royal Opera House, Tate
Modern, the National Theatre are not asked to measure their health and wellbeing
outputs, why should we? – Both of these networks, CPP and the Culture Health
and Wellbeing Alliance, are trying to keep pushing at these big questions about art and culture: who gets to make it, who
benefits, how do they benefit, who sets the agendas,
what value do we give to creative practice, to
the imagination, to agency? – I think it’s just massively important and incredibly fantastic
when you have an opportunity to step away from your day to day work and come to events like this, to hear case studies, to
hear feedback, hear stories. – We have this huge demand upon people to be able to do everything, you know, artists having to
evaluate at the same time as delivering their sessions, so try as best as possible to link up with academic institutions. – How do we work together to ensure that we’re not duplicating work? How do we ensure quality of
work, and I mean in training, but I also mean in processes
and as organisations? Are we creating problems for
ourselves by using language such as arts on prescription,
something inherently medical that suggests something
being done to someone rather than self-actualization? – Should we be all in as
artists and social prescribing or should we get out of it and be artists? – We kind of think arts is the solution, and then we sort of try
and work our way back and retrofit a question
that we’re trying to solve before we really start to
think about the question, so my provocation to
you today would be to, instead of just going that sounds great, ask the next question. – I think there’s some challenges to this work in this sector, I think we have to be careful about overstating the
role that the art plays. The question was asked, does
the art make people better? To which I think the
response has to be no, the art contributes, it
creates spaces, relationships, and opportunities for people
to make themselves better, and I just think we have to
keep challenging ourselves on what we do and what we don’t do, and the sort of the why
of what we’re doing. – This is my hope to raise
aspirations of young girls, and look at stuff around
self esteem and stereotypes. Then the challenge was, actually, we’ve not really focused on
the boys, and we had an issue. You know, a lot of things
about mental health, people bottling things up, and the biggest issue was with men. – I’m not disheartened or disheartening, I’m encouraged and encouraging. I am confident, I am flourishing. – In this world where
the decisions of others have an impact over us,
we still have a choice. – What I’m really interested in is, are people feared to evaluate? Is it a barrier in the arts? Somebody said a question
this morning about why are we just doing
control groups in art, why aren’t we looking at how art is doing really well for singing but also something
else, something non-art? Because I think comparing
and contrasting that would give a bit of a
robust evidence base? – I’m interested in the relationship between the marginalisation
of the arts within schools, within the curriculum and
this relationship between poor mental health in children. – There’s one guy that hadn’t spoke in any of our groups for 18 months, he came into Claire’s group
and within three months, he was conversing on a weekly basis and going away and doing research. – But now, mentoring other group members– – Certainly in some of
the very difficult areas that artists are going
into, how do you hold them? How do you hold their
mental wellbeing as well? – I sort of am a freelancer
as well with CPP Hounslow, but before that I was a participant, so I used to attend the meetings. We have a local advisory group, which we call the LAG group. So we all meet together, but
one thing that I really love, the concept of the CPP is they let you, the participant, make decisions on the
projects that you want to do. – That, to me, seems quite worrying, the idea that you will
actually take on these roles of the youth workers who
are no longer employed, the social workers who
are no longer employed. – Is it an ethical code of practice that needs to be maybe bedded in with where the host organisation the artist, the funder, all sign up to something that
says this is how you do this. – It has been genuinely quite
a provocative day so far, we’ve had some people who really know what they’re talking about being given space to question
things about this work, which is what you want out
of a conversation like this. – You have been talking
about health and arts, this is what I do, I sing and I think it
makes me feel better. (singing) Thank you very much.

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