Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Post-Conference Issue

This last couple of weeks has seen a number of conferences and events and this Mon - Weds I had the great pleasure of attending the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference, Bristol. Thank you Alex C and your wonderful team. It was superb to catch up with good friends and meet new people in the field. Lord Howarth of Newport shared some highlights from the forthcoming report of the APPG inquiry into arts and health, which will have its public launch here at the Manchester School of Art on July 21st. If you’re interested in attending register your name via email HERE. Remember, I’ll not be confirming precise details for a couple of weeks. Below is full footage of Alan Howarth's illuminating and passionate speech. It's taken on my phone, so excuse it's quality.

This all takes place as arts and culture joins heritage and tourism under the remit of first-time minister John Glen. Arts and culture have been separated from the creative industries in a restructure of ministerial responsibilities at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in a move criticised as ‘downgrading’ the importance of the arts and the creative industries. Salisbury MP and first-time Minister John Glen who it appears does or not support gay rights. Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said: "Arts and culture should broaden our horizons and help us embrace tolerance and diversity.” Glen came under fire in 2012 for his links to a Christian charity that sponsored an event that allegedly discussed a “cure” for homosexuality. He has also been criticised for his remarks about food banks in a Channel 4 News interview in 2011, in which he reportedly said people using them “had a choice” if they didn’t spend money on other things.

Let us watch this man closely. He is accountable to us.

Do I want to do a run down of highlights of the conference? Well not in any detail - the blog would be too long. The work of Blood Sugars was superb - and we need to know more about work from other countries - diversity is everything on our increasingly gated island. Some of the break-aways were just excellent, and I was proud to chair some wonderful examples of practice. I spoke a little around Greater Manchester and Devolution - and in truth - it helped me consolidate my thinking a little. Thanks FW for your always insightful thoughts. 

Vic McEwan and I had the onerous task of giving the final conference plenary - onerous - why so? Well the three days were scorching hot, and that last session always see’s people sloping off after they’ve done their bit, so we were thrilled to see a large hard-core of arts and health people still in the room. THANK YOU. It saw us sharing work around the Harmonic Oscillator which will be on exhibition in TATE Liverpool between 26th June and 1st July. Vic and I will be reprising our presentation at a free public forum on the afternoon of Thursday 29th and a few tickets are available HERE.

You can find out a little about this work by clicking on the image above. A few times at the event, I heard people beating themselves up over questions of measurements around the value of arts and health, and it was unsurprising to see that the Great Quantifiers and Up-Scalers had scuttled off by the time it came to our presentation, where with the help of Sylvia Plath, Julian Barnes and John Berger I hopefully tempered the often inappropriate desire for a bio-medical understanding of the arts and offered some cultural nuance, and in the words of Berger, a suggestion that some of these comparative methodologies are ‘equally absurd.’ This was an extract from my new work, Critical Care which will be published in September and the small film below is a teaser of the same, which will be shared in full with Vic at the Tate this Thursday.

On July 4th I’m very excited to be sharing Artist as Inspiration - Artist as Researcher at Kilkenny Castle as part of the Butler Gallery’s International Conference, Arts & Dementia: A European Perspective. So I’ll be sharing work from Dementia & Imagination and looking forwards to it. Click on the flyer below to register.

Woman to Woman
Rosa the UK Fund for women and girls has launched a new funding round of the "Women to Women" Fund. Local women's organisations across the UK are able to apply for grants of up to £25,000 to support a wide range of projects that benefits women. This can include: Building confidence and leadership skills, Tackling harassment and violence; etc. Rosa plans to support at least 100 local grassroots women's organisations across the UK and the grants are available for groups with an income of under £100,000 per year. Rosa especially wants to support groups that work with disadvantaged communities or in disadvantaged areas. Grants can pay for core work, as well as mobilising volunteers, leadership development, communications and advocacy. There are two stages to submitting an application to the Woman to Woman fund. To apply for a grant applicants will first need to complete the stage 1 application. The deadline for stage 1 applications is 5pm on the 6th July 2017. Read more HERE. 

The Elephant Trust
The Elephant Trust has announced the next deadline for applications is the 9th October 2017. The Trust offers grants to artists and for new, innovative visual arts projects. It aims to make it possible for artists and those presenting their work to undertake and complete projects when confronted by lack of funds. The Trust supports projects that develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the fine arts. Priority is given to artists and small organisations and galleries making or producing new work or exhibitions. The Trust normally awards grants of up to £2,000, but larger grants may be considered. Read more HERE.

Artists International Development Fund 
The next application deadline for the Arts Council England's Artists International Development Fund is the 13th December 2017. This funding stream is for artists to develop links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in other countries. Freelance and self-employed artists can apply for small grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to spend time building these links to broaden your horizons and open their work to other perspectives. The programme is open to emerging and mid-career artists working in combined arts, literature, music, theatre, dance, visual arts and crafts and design. Applicants must have received recognition for their work in England and not have extensive international experience. The application must also include a letter of support from the overseas partner/host. Read more HERE.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

...from the sunny streets of Kaunas

In Lithuania this week I’ve had the really rare opportunity to spend time with like-minded people who came together for the conference: Meno prieinamumas: muziejai, bendruomenės ir socialinės atskirties grupės. It’s been another illuminating event organised by the Lithuanian NGO, Socialiniai meno projektai, and the conference translates as - Accessible Arts: Museums, Communities and Socially Excluded Groups.

Organised and facilitated at The National Gallery of Art by Ieva Petkutė, Dr. Simona Karpavičiūtė and gallery educator Eglė Nedzinskaitė, the conference ran for two full days and showcased research and best practice from Lithuania, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Australia and the UK. For my part I shared some of the research and artistic outputs from Dementia & Imagination and introduced the work of Vic McEwan and work we’ll be sharing in Bristol this week: The Harmonic Oscillator. 

Again and again I’m reminded that we are all connected - those of us with these core values - small scale - large scale - regardless of the politics that surround us, we’re just doing work that has some profound impact. We’re part of something far bigger than each of ourselves. This is a wonderful country, and I thank my hosts for inviting me and believing in this work and the life we live. Aciu.

This week continues apace and sees three days of frenetic arts and health activity in Bristol as somehow, Alex Coulter and her colleagues in the South West, yet again, pull together a giant of a conference. It promises to be rich and diverse and I for one can’t wait.

Winston Churchill Craft & Design Travelling Fellowships
Closing date: 19th Sept at 5.00pm
The new 'Craft & Design’ 2018 Travelling Fellowships programme is currently open for applications. For more information, see: Crafts & Design 2018 e-poster. If you are inspired by the work of overseas designers, have a project in mind to support craft skills or want to work with overseas craft people/designers and have a project in mind to advance practices in the UK design sector, apply for a @wcmtuk Travelling Fellowship here: 

Engaging Libraries Programme
The Carnegie UK Trust has announced that its Engaging Libraries Programme is now open for applications. The programme offers grants of £5,000 - £15,000 to libraries to deliver creative and imaginative public engagement projects on health and wellbeing. Applicants must be public library services, but the programme has a strong emphasis on collaboration and encourages libraries to think about a broad range of potential partnership opportunities in the delivery of their projects. The Carnegie UK Trust is aiming to support between 8 - 10 libraries and activities must be completed between October 2017 and October 2018. The closing date for applications is August 2017. Find out more

Women Make Music Grants Programme 
Women songwriters and composers of all genres and backgrounds have until the 2nd October 2017 to apply for the next round of the Women Make Music programme. The programme supports the development of outstanding women songwriters and composers at different stages of their career. It aims to:
  Break down assumptions and stereotypes
  Raise awareness of the gender gap
  Increase the profile of women who are creating new music in the UK
  To encourage women who may otherwise not have applied for PRS for Music Foundation funding.
Grants are available of up to £5,000 to support touring, recording, promotion and marketing, community projects involving high-quality music creators, music creator residencies and live performances featuring new UK music. Read more at:

Why? Fest 2017
Saturday 8th July
Disabled and Diverse artists from across Birmingham and or linked to Birmingham and West Midlands arts have come together in a festival for 2017. The Why? Festival is a programme of performance and performance development opportunities aimed at discovering and working with new and emergency artists who define themselves as Disabled People or of Diverse Culture. Funded initially through an ACE Grant for Arts, the programme will run a series of workshops looking at performance and creative skills, and devising new works sessions, and will compliment these with a number of live performance opportunities including larger festival type events as artists and performance ready work is created and identified. Anyone interested in taking part in this programme as an artist, an organisation supporting potential, new and emerging Disabled and Diverse Artists, or as a venue or promoter then please contact Robin Surgeoner at
. . .

After yet another tragedy in the UK, no platitudes from me - just thoughts.

. . .                      


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Happy Talk...

'Discredited, humiliated, diminished. Where there was respect, there is ridicule; where there was strength, there is weakness; where there was self-assurance, there is doubt.' ...enough said.*

This week I was invited to a Creative Industries Federation round table meeting with NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens to discuss the increasing place of the arts and health agenda in national research, policy and practice. Great to hear interested and interesting people from the cultural sector, and only a little jarred with me. Although 'Chatham House' rules apply, this meeting does come in Arts for Health’s 30th year at MMU and the month before the public launch of a the national research inquiry into the field, undertaken by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing. I'm pleased that this will take place the Manchester School of Art in July - more details soon. While this event will be by invitation only, if you are interested in research and policy in arts and health and would like to attend, lease register your interest by emailing HERE.

I'll be sharing some Dementia & Imagination work at the National Art Gallery of Lithuania, alongside new work with Vic McEwan following his residency at Alder Hey, which all precedes his residency at TATE Liverpool at the end of the month. Free tickets for a TATE Exchange event on 29th June are available HERE. For those of you attending the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference in Bristol, you'll be able to hear from Vic and I on the final day of the conference in the final keynote of the conference. Vic will be sharing work from The Harmonic Oscillator and I'll be framing in through an extract from a new work, Critical Care.

Calling all artists involved in healthcare - Expressions of Interest
The new children’s hospital to be built on the grounds of St James’s Hospital Dublin is the most ambitious healthcare development in the island of Ireland in terms of scale, design and clinical care.  Designed by BDP and O’Connell Mahon Architects, this iconic building will be a world class facility that will look after children and young people from all over Ireland who have complicated and serious illnesses and who are in need of specialist and complex care. In addition to the hospital, two Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centres will be built at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and Tallaght Hospital to open in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The project will bring together three existing children’s hospitals: Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght Hospital.

The Children’s Hospital Group (CHG) invites Expressions of Interest from experienced artists to enter into a phase of Research and Development between August and October 2017 leading to proposals for a range of ambitious artworks that will be integrated into the new children’s hospital public realm spaces and its Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centres. This Research and Development Phase will be a stand-alone contract and the realisation of resulting proposals will be contracted separately.

The closing date for Expressions of Interest is Wednesday, 19th July at 2pm.
An information meeting for artists will take place in the F2 Centre, Dublin 8 on 3rd July. For full details and an application form, click HERE.

Creative Alternatives Online
Creative Alternatives is an award winning arts and health service that has
been funded by Public Health in Merseyside for more than ten years! Programme participants have explored ways of using creativity to reduce
symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. There is plenty of research to show that the arts can help to improve wellbeing and over the past 10 years, the community based programme has helped hundreds of people to do so. With the new online programme, we are expanding the reach of Creative Alternatives and hope to help even more people to improve their wellbeing through the power of creativity! Creative Alternatives Online offers:
- A weekly series of recorded workshops led by an artist, for you to watch in your own time, at your own pace
- Opportunities to try new things like mindfulness, gentle body work and expressive arts activities such as sketching, writing and photography, all in your own time
- Forums, where you can connect and share your experience with likeminded people
- Optional live drop in sessions with the participants and artists, for you to share your creative work if you wish to
- Access to online resources to boost your creativity & wellbeing 
The programme is FREE and will run for 12 weeks, starting in early Sep 2017.
If you like the sound of what’s on offer, please email us at to find out more! 

Masonic Charitable Foundation Community Support Grants 
Registered charities in England and Wales can apply for funding to the Masonic Charitable Foundation's Community Support Grants Scheme. Funding is available for projects to tackle financial hardship; improve the lives of those affected by poor physical and/or mental health and wellbeing; provide educational and employment opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people; and tackle social exclusion and disadvantage. Charities can apply for large grants of £5,000 and above or for small grants of between £500 and £5,000. The next closing date for applications to the small grants programme is the 16th June 2017. For large grants programme it is 3rd July 2017. If applying for a Large Grant, applicants must first submit a Grant Enquiry Form at least two weeks prior to the large grant application deadline. Read more by clicking on the gentleman in all his finery, above!

Near Neighbours Small Grants Fund 
Local groups and organisations, who are working to bring together neighbours and develop relationships across diverse faiths and ethnicities in order to improve their communities, have until 17th November 2017 to apply for grants of £250 to £5,000 from the Near Neighbours fund. The fund which operates in East & West London, Luton, East Midlands, Birmingham, the Black Country, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire has two key objectives:
Social interaction - to develop positive relationships in multi-faith and multi-ethnic areas
Social action - to encourage people of different faiths and of no faith and of different ethnicities to come together for initiatives that improve their local neighbourhood.
Grants awarded in the past have offered funding to a broad range of work; environmental, social, cultural, artistic, and sporting, that furthers the programme's aims of encouraging social interaction and social action. Read more by clicking on the Manchester back ally, above.

* Now here's a great cartogram that was in the news. Quite simply it shows the UK political landscape by per-head vote and political party.

BBC Children in Need Main Grant Programme 
The next closing date for applications to the BBC Children in Need Main Grants programme is the 1st September 2017. Grants of over £10,000 per project are available to not for profit organisations and schools that work with young people who are experiencing disadvantage through:
Illness, distress, abuse or neglect
Any kind of disability
Behavioural or psychological difficulties
And / or living in poverty or situations of deprivation.
Schools can also apply for funding but the project must be additional to their statutory duties. Read more HERE. 

Funding for young people to develop social enterprises 
UnLtd, in partnership with Sports Relief and the Spirit of 2012, has announced that young people who want to start, grow or build their social enterprise idea can apply for funding of up to £15,000.  Young people can apply for a Test it Award of up to £500 or a Build it Award of up to £15,000.  Awards can be applied for by an individual or small group of up to four people aged 11-30. Test it Awards provide young people with the chance to unlock their potential and make a positive difference in the community. The Test it Awards are available to 200 young people to run their own projects. There is a one stage application process for Test It Awards. All applicants need to do is fill out the application which can be found at here. UnLtd will also scale up successful projects by providing Awards of £15,000 to 10 young people who are ready to build their ideas into sustainable social. There is a two stage application process for the Build It Awards.  Applicants initially will need to submit an expression of interest and if they meet the criteria then UnLtd will send an application form. Read more by clicking on the street scene, above.          .   

Monday, 5 June 2017

FREE TICKETS and more...

A short and sweet blog this week and three quick pointers!

Tickets for the free TATE Exchange event with Vic McEwan exploring our work at Alder Hey and through sound, noise and music are now available via eventbrite HERE.

Regular readers of this blog will know my former colleague and Research Associate on the Dementia & Imagination project, Katherine Taylor. Kat is currently on her Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship and from the heart of beautiful Finland, she shares her blog, which I recommend. You can link to her blog by clicking on the image above.

I wrote a very modest reflection on a conversation I had with Mike White about charlatans and snake-oil salesmen. You can read it on the London Arts and Health Forum blog, by clicking on the snake above. I remember Mike fondly. He died two years ago. Shocking - who knows where the time goes.

Photo: Gary Lomas
Stitching the Wars is a new exhibition made in collaboration with older people living in Derbyshire and arts organsation arthur+martha. Award winning project Stitching the Wars combines history, poetry and embroidery from older people living in rural Derbyshire. Artist Lois Blackburn from the arts organisation arthur+martha collaborated with older people to make community quilts embroidered with reminiscence. The exhibition opend with a celebratory event between 1pm – 3pm on 7th June 2017 at the newly refurbished Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. For more details click on the image above or HERE.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

...Vic McEwan and more

Save the Date: 29 June 13:00 - 15:30 @TATE Liverpool
A free North West Arts & Health Network & TATE Exchange event

TICKETS available HERE

The Harmonic Oscillator
Between 25th June and 1st July, Australian artist Vic McEwan will be in residence at TATE Liverpool as part of their TATE Exchange programme, where he will be exhibiting and performing pieces of work as a direct response to his time in residence at Alder Hey Hospital. Over the last few years as a guest of Arts and Health Co-ordinator, Vicky Charnock and in collaboration with Arts for Health, Vic has spent time observing the acoustic environment of the hospital particularly thinking about noise and sound under the working title of The Harmonic Oscillator. I've had the opportunity to work closely with Vic over this period and am excited to be sharing some of this work at the National Gallery of Art, Lithuania, TATE Liverpool, at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing, International Conference and as part of The Big Anxiety festival.
My contribution will be published observations of Vic's work in the context of our arts/health agenda, and I can promise Vic's work will be both surprising and liberating, provoking the mind and demanding curiosity. More details about TATE Exchange will follow soon, but here's an 
advanced notice of an event on 29th June between 13:00 and 15:30. We'll be hosting a free event, where you can meet Vic and find out more about this collaborative artist-led project, and experience some of the work, and a performance. We will have very limited places, so I will tweet, facebook and blog the details of how you can reserve a place over the next week. Please don't email me for a place, as it will be via eventbrite. Thank you.

Engaging Libraries Programme opens for applications 
The Carnegie UK Trust has announced that its Engaging Libraries Programme is now open for applications. The programme which is a partnership between the Carnegie UK Trust and the Wellcome Trust offers grants of £5,000 - £15,000 to libraries to deliver creative and imaginative public engagement projects on health and wellbeing. Applicants must be public library services - but the programme has a strong emphasis on collaboration and encourages libraries to think about a broad range of potential partnership opportunities in the delivery of their projects. The Carnegie UK Trust are aiming to support between 8 - 10 libraries and activities must be completed between October 2017 and October 2018. The closing date for applications is 5pm the 23rd August 2017. Read more HERE.

Music grants for older peopleThe registered charity, Concertina which makes grants of up to £250 to charitable bodies which provide musical entertainment and related activities for the elderly has announced that the next deadline for applications is the 31st October 2017. The charity is particular keen to support smaller organisations which might otherwise find it difficult to gain funding. Concertina has made grants to a wide range of charitable organisations nationwide in England and Wales. These include funds to many care homes for the elderly to provide musical entertainment for their residents. Read more HERE.

Ragdoll Foundation Open Grants Scheme 
The Ragdoll Foundation's Open Grant scheme supports not for profit organisations working with children and young people using the arts and creative media. Grants of up to £50,000 are available. However, the Foundation states that the majority of grants awarded are likely to be in the region of £5,000 to £20,000 and cover between 25% and 80% of total costs of the project. Organisations can apply for both one-off short-term projects and for projects lasting up to three years. Preference will be given to those projects which have a deep commitment to listening to children and allow the perceptions and feelings of children themselves to be better understood. The Foundations is mainly interested in applications that involve children during their early years, but appropriate projects for older children (up to 18 years) will also be considered. Whilst the Foundation will fund work in and around London, they will prioritise projects taking place elsewhere in the UK. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Read more HERE.

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. 
Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers…1
Oh that life were so simple! I began my presentation to the ARTLANDS 2016 conference in New South Wales with the iconic John Hodge monologue on selfish individualism, written for the film of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, and which offered (I hope) a heroin-flavoured indictment of contemporary life and a spring-board from which we discussed the arts, social justice and inequalities, which I argued - underpins all our health. 

Through the sublime music of Louis Armstrong, I attempted to take those listening on a journey through a bloody civil war, in what was then, the Belgian Congo, via Central High School in Arkansas and the Little Rock Nine, all the time, exploring the relevance of the arts in an unfolding political maelstrom, suggesting that in the heart of fractured and unequal societies, artists are offered up as the answers to all life’s problems.

Through music, verbatim theatre and poetry I explored inequalities and social injustices, suggesting how the arts might offer us different kinds of evidence, and where grass roots organisations like #BlackLivesMatter perhaps, represent a cohesive force for social and cultural change, across a spectrum of inequalities. 

As civil unrest continues to regularly erupt across America, and as President Trump (Hародный герой) 
crassly bulldozes his way through office, I suggested that the ways in which health is now understood is increasingly focused on competition and not compassion. 

Into this largely clinical context the arts and health agenda has emerged as a force to humanise healing environments and advance its relationship with medicine as a means to achieving individual health. But perhaps if we begin to understand public health in terms of equity and justice, then we might engage more deeply with the social determinants of health, and not simply decorate the edges of our individual lives. 

The arts and health movement, seems to be thriving, yet without diversity, we risk becoming inward looking and self-congratulatory and dominated by self-promoting twerps, not dissimilar to Trump! Now, more than ever, we need to disrupt inequalities and social injustices and perhaps, the arts might just enable that parity of voice. As we observe the incremental incursions of free-marketeers into the field, and knee-jerk twitter-feed decisions of a reality-TV President, I am reminded of the prescient observations of James Baldwin in 1972:

“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.2

1. Trainspotting (1996) Directed by Danny Boyle. Written by John Hodge, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.

2. Baldwin, James. “No Name in the Street”, Michael Joseph, London, 1972

This is an edited extract from Weapons of Mass Happiness at ARTLANDS Dubbo 2016. 
It includes extracts from a chapter in the forthcoming book:

Music, Health, and Wellbeing: Exploring Music for Health Equity and Social Justice, published in 2017 by Palgrave Macmillan and is co-edited by: Naomi Sunderland, Natalie Lewandowski, Dan Bendrups, and Brydie-Leigh Bartleet.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Sunday, 21 May 2017

...a holding slide

...and a musical interlude