The Arts & Health Collective: Creative Solutions for Complex Challenges

The Arts & Health Collective, by WHO and partner organisations, stimulates interdisciplinary dialogue to identify best practices in and disseminate actionable policy advice on the implementation of arts and health interventions that are socially nuanced, culturally sensitive, and people-centred.

Background

Arts interventions, such as dancing to improve motor coordination in patients with Parkinson’s disease, are considered non-invasive, low-risk treatment options. Countries are increasingly using such interventions to supplement more traditional biomedical interventions.

In 2019, WHO’s first report on arts and health highlighted the role of the arts in ill health prevention, health promotion, and illness management and treatment across the life-course. The recent Public Health Panorama special issue on arts and health notes a range of arts and health practices being explored across the WHO European Region.

However, there is a lack of consistency and sustainability of the practice. The implementation of arts and health in policy continues to be ad hoc, dispersed, and geographically limited.

To create the best conditions for a successful realization of initiatives, more detailed knowledge is needed regarding the parties involved, their needs, and possible barriers to action. Besides, more information on the artistic aims and practices is required to integrate arts and culture in decision-making in different societal contexts. Also, there is a need to create tools for the development of more long-term intersectoral collaboration.

In recent years, many Nordic countries have become active in developing research programmes, policies and initiatives focused on the intersection of arts, health, and well-being. The situation varies from country to country regarding how efforts are initiated and how policies are made and implemented.

Building stronger connections to different actors and initiatives in Europe and globally can strengthen and enrich knowledge and cooperation within the Nordic region. Such actions can also enhance the conditions for mutual exchange of information and best practices across country borders.

Aim and objectives

By creating novel partnerships, the pilot project aims to find effective and sustainable policy solutions to integrate arts and culture in the health care sector. The pilot project has five main objectives:

Create novel partnerships that span beyond national borders and sectors to encourage peer-to-peer and bi-lateral learning, ultimately building stronger international connections and opportunities for knowledge sharing between the Nordics and other parts of the world within the arts and health field.

Stimulate interdisciplinary dialogue on cooperation structures and sustainable funding models concerning arts and health strategies and high-quality implementation of efforts.

Test and implement documented effective arts and health interventions in different contexts.

Identify good practices and best buys in the implementation of arts and health interventions that are socially nuanced, culturally sensitive, and people-centered.

Disseminate clear and actionable policy advice to the Member States on implementing and uptake of arts and health interventions in different contexts.

Key questions

The benefits of arts interventions for the health and well-being of individuals and communities are not being fully realized because opportunities for collaboration between the arts and health sectors are not yet adequately developed. To accelerate progress towards this end, the project strives to answer the following questions:

  • How can structures and mechanisms for collaboration between the culture, social care, and health sectors in different contexts be strengthened?
  • How can the agency of artists and cultural practitioners be strengthened, and sufficient expertise concerning artistic and cultural procurements be ensured in the planning and implementing arts and health interventions?
  • How can stronger lines of referral be developed from health and social care to community arts programmes?
  • How to build more substantial synergies between policy and grassroots level in planning, implementing, and evaluating art interventions to achieve shared ownership and long-term structures for collaboration?
  • How to develop sustainable financing structures and funding models to support the cooperation between the health and art sectors?
  • How can culturally diverse forms of art be made available and accessible to a range of different groups across the life-course, especially those from disadvantaged minorities?

Approach

The Arts and Health Collective sets out to address some of these challenges by creating a space for open dialogue and collaboration beyond national borders and traditional sectors. The project will bring together academics, artists, cultural institutions, health care practitioners, and policymakers from different countries to identify best practices for the implementation of sustained and effective arts and health interventions.

The idea behind the Arts and Health Collective rests on the belief that all stakeholder voices and perspectives are critical in the co-creation and delivery of effective solutions.

Three phases

The Arts & Health Collective is conceptualized in three phases. Current funding and commitments will sustain Phase 1 of the project.

  • Phase 1. Pilot Implementation and evaluation (year 1)
  • Phase 2. Knowledge translation and development: WHO toolkit on implementation of arts and health (year 2)
  • Phase 3. Capacity building and policy uptake across the WHO European Region (year 3)

Cross-cutting all phases: Communications and advocacy competent to engage other stakeholders (e.g. educational institutions, cultural institutions, policy makers, funders, etc.).

Partners and funding

The Insights Unit manages the project at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. This new flagship initiative was established in April 2020 to leverage behavioural and cultural insights in health policy and planning. Driven by a vision of country implementation and impact, the Insights Unit is looking to the field of arts and health as a promising area of work to focus on.

In addition to WHO Regional Office for Europe, the project partners include the Nordic Culture Fund (Denmark), University College of London (UK), Cluj Culture Center (Romania), BOZAR Centre for FIne Arts Brussels (Belgium), Central Denmark Region (Denmark), and Uniarts Helsinki’s CERADA Center for Educational Research and Acdemic Development in the Arts (Finland).

The first, now funded, phase of the project starts in April 2021 and ends in April 2022.The project is funded by the Nordic Culture Fund together with co-funding from all partners. The first, now funded, phase of the project starts in April 2021 and ends in April 2022.

Contact information for the project at Uniarts Helsinki

    • Kai Lehikoinen

    • Director, Taidekasvatuksen tutkimuksen tk CERADA, University of the Arts Helsinki
    • +358504390517

Project name

The Arts & Health Collective: Creative Solutions for Complex Challenges

Time

04/2021-04/2022

Funder

The Nordic Culture Fund together with co-funding from all partners

Collaborators

In addition to WHO Regional Office for Europe, the project partners include the Nordic Culture Fund (Denmark), University College of London (UK), Cluj Culture Center (Romania), BOZAR Centre for FIne Arts Brussels (Belgium), Central Denmark Region (Denmark), and Uniarts Helsinki’s CERADA Center for Educational Research and Acdemic Development in the Arts (Finland).

Lead organisation

WHO Regional Office for Europe