Thursday, 16 November 2017

dates for the diary 2018

Welcome to the North West Arts & Health Network blog where your regular blogger is on research leave and thus, there are fewer regular postings than normal!

Two exciting things for the New Year so open your diaries and pencil them in if you're interested!

Vic McEwan presents The Harmonic Oscillator
Many of you will have seen the Australian contemporary artist Vic McEwan, when he last gave a presentation at Manchester School of Art in 2016. Over the last few years, Vic has spent time at the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Alder Hey as guest of its arts coordinator Vicky Charnock and Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care Dr Jane Ratcliffe - to whom my warmest thanks.

During his time there he has been given unprecedented access to much of the hospital in an exploration of the sonic environment - not to resolve sound problems - but to respond as an artist to the acoustic environment, and produce a body of work informed by his experiences. For my part, I have taken time out to be with him on his numerous visits and to quietly observe his encounters and practice. The work has been deeply moving, and I have been privileged to be part of a process that has enabled me to reflect deeply and write a book about his work, the nature of artists working in places of trauma, and share a story of some of the profound moments in arts and health. My work is called Critical Care and was published in Australia and launched at the Big Anxiety Festival in Sydney in September and for those reading in Australia it's available at the Museum of Contemporary Art bookshop, Gleebooks, Abbey's Bookshop and the UNSW.

So Vic and I will be giving a public presentation of our shared work at Manchester's flagship cultural centre HOME, and launching the book and the Harmonic Oscillator EP with 4 compositions created from sounds recorded at Alder Hey.

When: 23 January

Time: 10:15 - 12:30
Where: HOME
It's a free event, but you'll need to register for a ticket HERE.

(please note, there are limited numbers and priority is given to North West Arts & Health Network members) 

Creative Health Revisited
I can confirm that on the 6th February at Manchester School of Art, I will be facilitating a follow-up event to the launch of Creative Health which we held here in June this year. This will be a free ticketed event, and you will be able to register your interest in attending later this month. The event will be between 10:30 and 15:30, will be participatory and will explore some of the recommendations in relation to the North West, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. We will have a specific focus on the social determinants of health, and I'll be pleased to welcome the reports author, Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbit who will present on the report and focus down specifically on the social determinants. We will have some special guests, and I very much hope that a number of you reading this blog might want to share your work, particularly if you believe your work in some way, might influence health and wellbeing across the life course. So pencil it in, and I'll post more before the month is through.

Sky Arts launches new Art 50 funding round (UK)
Sky Arts has announced the launch of a new Art 50 funding round. Art 50 is seeking applications from artists from all walks of life and from all genres to create a piece of work which says something important and passionate about what it will mean to be British when we leave the EU. Artists can be fearful, excited, angry or happy on the subject. Applications can be submitted by anyone including schools, colleges and arts institutions. Applicants can apply for up to £50,000 but the majority of awards will be made between £5,000 and £20,000. The closing date for applications is midday on the 12th January 2018. Read more HERE.

Thinking of all the pompous, jumped up narcissists in the philanthropic world of arts and health right now (ok, they come and go, but how tedious are they when they're in the spotlight), here's a rapid edit of an old presentation called Fiction, Non-Fiction from 2013.

Disabled Artist Residency Opportunity
Bursary: £12,000 for 6 months starting January 2018
Application Deadline: Midnight 30 November 2017; Interviews: 19 December 2017
This is an artist residency opportunity for disabled artists (who identify as disabled people or have long term health conditions) who currently work or would like to develop their practice in the public realm. We are inviting applications from contemporary UK-based disabled artists with a collaborative, participatory approach to produce a contemporary art project that addresses and challenges perceptions of disability in Mid Rhondda.  The Equalities Act defines disability as: “A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".

Taking place between January and July 2018, the project will be led by the appointed artist’s practice but must seek to critically engage with the specific context of Mid Rhondda and with individuals / communities / groups in the area in seeking to address and challenge perceptions of disability. The details of this engagement are open to development and may range from conversations / dialogue to making, performance or other forms of production.  The artist will develop the format and outputs of the residency over an initial Research & Development Phase in January – March 2018.

It is expected that the residency will culminate in an event / exhibition / production to share the content and outcomes of the residency, the format of which will be developed through the residency and in collaboration with the project participants and partners.  The residency activity must take place within the Mid Rhondda area, which includes the areas of Tonypandy, Trealaw, Penygraig, Clydach and Llwynypia. The artist will be supported and mentored by Addo and Disability Arts Cymru. For a full brief and details of how to apply, please click HERE.

Drawing On Strengths
Creating a prototype of an arts-based asset audit tool for people in receipt of a dementia diagnosis
London Arts in Health Forum is collaborating with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to explore the role the arts can play for people immediately after a diagnosis of dementia. The aim is to commission a visual artist to create a new tool (using anything from drawing to digital applications) which will help people to map the positive aspects of their lives and to record, using visual means, the positive aspects of their lives. At the same time, we are researching what arts activities are already being employed for people in the period immediately following a dementia diagnosis.

Call out for artists and designers 
An artist is needed to help create an imaginative mapping tool that allows people to respond to the news of a dementia diagnosis by focusing on the current strengths and resources available to them in their lives as they face an uncertain future. Though a shared examination of what they feel best supports them to live well, the tool will allow people to feel more prepared, aware and reassured following what is commonly experienced as a debilitating and frightening diagnosis.

This is a partnership project between Mersey Care and London Arts in Health Forum that will explore the ways in which the arts can help people in the period immediately following a diagnosis of dementia. The successful candidate will be able to spend time shadowing Mersey Care’s existing post diagnostic support sessions and to then devise a tool for use in these sessions to help people to acknowledge and become more aware of the social and community assets in their lives.

A fee of £2400 will be awarded for work carried out between December 2017 and February 2018. This project is funded by The Creative Health and Wellbeing Hub, (AHRC). The closing date for applications is December 4th. For more information on this brief, click HERE.

+ Research call out
Alongside the artist intervention, a researcher is looking more widely at existing applications of arts based interventions in the period immediately post diagnosis. Little is known about the range and scale of arts interventions at this stage. We are looking for any organisations or individuals working in this area to get in touch if they have information about how they work creatively with people in this immediate post-diagnosis phase. Please contact

Arts and Cultural Practice in Green and Blue Spaces
This survey is trying to capture arts practice that is specifically engaging with issues of ecology, biodiversity, geographies and uses of green and blue spaces.
The survey is part of the research project “Green Infrastructure and the Health and wellbeing Influences on an Ageing population (GHIA)”. This is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council under the “Valuing Nature Programme”You can read about the project HERE. The project aims to better understand the benefits and values of urban green spaces to older people and how these spaces can be an important part of healthy ageing in urban areas. We are working closely with older people as co-researchers to develop this programme and wish to engage with artists, organisations and facilitators as co-designers. Findings from this survey will form part of the written outputs of the project and will be used to inform future research in this field. All data will be anonymised prior to publication. Take part in the survey HERE.


Sunday, 29 October 2017 yourself no matter what they say

OK - a whistle-stop blog from your blogger who is out of the country, and dealing with things remotely...

First things first - you'll know I'm trying to regroup for a North West Arts & Health big free event on January 5th at MMU. Why the 5th? Well, it's when the university is quiet, so we have more space, meaning it remains a free event. But I'm aware it's soon after the Christmas break and many people might not be able to attend. So to help me to decide whether to have it on the 5th or look to another date in the calendar, I'm asking that those of you who might want to attend a post-Creative Health Report event, and share your work and look forwards - fill in this simple - 'it's a good day - it's a bad day' - straw poll. Go on - even if it just gives me a general picture, it'll help. Click on Adam Parker Smith's crazy tiger (Prometheus) to cast your vote!

Now we all know funding is everything and here's something very interesting from the Department of Health focused on social prescribing. If it's not for you, please circulate to others who you think might be interested, as time is limited.

Health & Wellbeing Fund 2017/18 
The Department of Health and Public Health England have launched a new application round through the Health and Wellbeing Fund. The fund is part of the Health and Wellbeing programme. Each round focuses on a specific theme. The theme for this round is social prescribing.  Social prescribing is generally understood to be an intervention through which people are supported to access non-medical services in the community. Examples include befriending, art classes and exercise classes, but a wide variety of activities can be included. Typically, a community navigator/link worker will work with the individual to co-produce solutions that best suit their needs. Applications of up to £300,000 (in year 1) are being accepted from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.  The Government will be holding a series of webinars in September and October. The webinars will cover the application process and provide an opportunity for potential applicants to ask questions. The closing date for applications is the 21st November 2017. Read more by clicking on the HIV/AIDS posters below.

And for those of you trying to get to grips with how the NHS in England works. Here's a timely and alternative guide from The King's Fund to help you with that application perhaps!

New publication on local authorities, arts & older people
The Baring Foundation has produced a new report on local authorities, arts and older people entitled The Role of Local Authorities in Creative Ageing. The report and case studies provide a summary of the many benefits that the arts can bring to older people in improving their health and wellbeing, maintaining their independence, and reducing the costs of care. It also highlights the impact the arts can have on tackling loneliness. Click on the photo-booth image below.

New £4.5 million funding programme to support local social action (England)
A new funding programme supporting communities to take action on issues which matter locally has been launched by the Big Lottery Fund and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The Placed Based Social Action programme will support established partnerships to put social action at the heart of plans to make a positive difference in their local area. The £4.5 million of National Lottery and government funding aims to increase the capacity of communities, civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses to work together to address priorities which matter to people locally. Phase one of the programme is open to expressions of interest until 28 November 2017. During the first phase, successful partnerships will have one year to work with a support contractor to design their local action plan. In winter 2018, these partnerships will be eligible for a funding award of up to £240,000 to put these plans into action. Partnerships that want to develop and expand their plan for a further three years will be eligible for a further funding award of up to £255,000 in early 2021. Read more HERE.  

Artists International Development Fund (England)
Probably one of the more interesting opportunities from ACE, and one I've been luck enough to support artists successfully being awarded over the years, is this international opportunity. Give it a go - it's not as onerous an application as you might think. The next application deadline for the Arts Council England's Artists International Development Fund is 5pm on the 13th December 2017. This funding stream is for artists to develop links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in other countries. Self-employed and freelance 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 by clicking on the Orange Crush below.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

...this and that

January 5th 2018 - SAVE THE DATE
I can confirm that a follow-up event to the Creative Health launch, will take place here at MMU on 5th January. The event will give us the chance to share more of our work with each other and unpick the recommendations of the report and ways forwards across the region. Save the date. It'll be a free event and will provisionally take place between 10:00 and 16:00. An eventbrite page for registration and opportunities to express interest in sharing your work, will be posted soon. I very much hope that Vic McEwan will be able to join our event and share work of the Harmonic Oscillator - more soon.

Whitehall Debate on Arts & Health
Co-Chair of the APPG on Arts, Health & Wellbeing and former Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey proudly displays the Creative Health report at the parliamentary debate on the effect of the arts on health in Whitehall last week. You can watch the debate in full by clicking firmly on his face.

Arts & Health in unfolding story
Interesting to see that a three-year Memorandum of Understanding between the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) and the Welsh NHS Confederation has been agreed and that the agreement aims to promote the benefits that the arts can bring to the population’s wellbeing, and to create a “more equal, cultural and sustainable Wales”. Arts Professional report that a spokesperson for ACW said participating in creative activities can have a “very positive impact on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing”, and help to reduce demand on NHS services. Speaking about the agreement, Chair of ACW Phil George said: “There is growing and resilient evidence for arts participation benefitting mental health, wellbeing and recovery from physical illness."

It will be very interesting to see what strategy ACW put in place - and will it simply be a tool for achieving NHS cost effectiveness, or will it offer a vehicle for radical social change and civic good? Raymond Williams cautioned us that ‘good’ has rather been drained of its meaning by the ‘exclusion of its ethical content’ by those who attempt to influence the field, ‘using scraps of linguistics, psychology and sociology to influence what he thinks of as the mass mind.’ In a climate where we hear lots about 'scaling up' and 'expansion' perhaps Williams is firing a warning shot from our recent past, for us to be mindful of ‘advertising men’ and ‘publicity boys.’ This nuanced and rich community of arts and health is at potential risk of those wanting to scale-up more instrumental practice by simply filling a hole in the market, when the NHS is looking for solutions. Let's keep a watchful eye out for those vapid opportunists!

Funding for projects that help the elderly 
The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust which awards grants to registered charities in the United Kingdom has announced that the next funding round for applications is now open. Grants of £5,000 are available to registered charities for projects that relate to the Elderly. Priority given to projects working with:
 The Elderly that focus on Homelessness
 Domestic Abuse
 Refugees and Asylum Seekers
 Activities for those with limited access or opportunities.
To be eligible to apply, the charity must have a minimum operating income of £500,000 per year. For information on how to apply and on future funding rounds this year, please click HERE. 

Life Changes Trust: Creative & Active Lives 
The Life Changes Trust has announced the launch of the Creative and Active Lives Fund. The fund aims to grow opportunities across a broad range of creative and active pursuits so care experienced young people can engage with their peers and increase their skills, wellbeing and social connections. It also aims to build the confidence and skills amongst staff, families and carers in relation to creative and active pursuits. Projects must focus on care experienced young people between 14 and 26 years old who have at least three months experience of any of the following:
 Supervision order/looked after at home
 Foster care
 Residential care
 Secure care
 Looked after through Kinship care.
Not for profit organisations, schools, colleges, universities and residential houses are able to apply and proposals are also welcome from projects that give care experienced young people the opportunity to join activities within a mixed group. The closing date for applications is the 1st December 2017. Read more HERE. 

BBC Children in Need – Small Grants Programme
Not for profit organisations such as schools; registered charities; voluntary organisations; churches; and community interest groups; etc. can apply for grants of up to £10,000 per year for up to 3 years for projects that help children and young people overcome the effects of:
 Illness, distress, abuse or neglect; disability
 Behavioural or psychological difficulties
 Poverty and deprivation.
 Projects supported in the past include:
 Trewirgie Junior School which received a grant of £9,760 to provide after school sailing sessions to
 disadvantage children aged 7-11.
The Midlothian Association of Play which received a grant of £9,996 to run holiday playschemes with trips and activities for young people living in low income areas.
The closing date for applications is the 1st December 2017. Read more HERE. 

a-n Business Development Manager
Salary: £25,874 – £33,671
Contract: Permanent full-time contract of employment
Location: Manchester
Application deadline: 12noon on Monday 6 November 2017
The Business Development Manager will be responsible for identifying new opportunities for business development (including income streams, business partnerships, advertising and sales growth), supporting the Head of Business Development in steering and securing a-n’s future in line with the company’s mission and business plan. a-n has an ambitious forward business plan, a growing membership and the success of influential and impactful campaigns and programmes to build on. We’re looking for an exceptional individual with experience of income generation and business development to join our core staff team at this exciting time for the company.

About a-n: a-n The Artists Information Company is the largest artists’ membership organisation in the UK with over 21,000 members. We have been leading and influencing policy and sectoral best practice for almost 40 years with our members’ needs, interests and concerns always the central focus of what we do.

How to apply: See job pack below for details of how to apply and guidance notes for applicants. The deadline for receipt of applications is 12noon on Monday 6 November 2017.
Full details are HERE.


Sunday, 8 October 2017


There will be a Westminster Hall Debate on the Effects of the Arts on Health on 11 October 2017 from 4.30-5.30pm. The debate has been initiated by the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts Health and Wellbeing, the Rt Hon. Ed Vaizey MP, as a follow-up to the APPG’s report Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing. The debate will feature a response to the issue from the Minister for the Arts John Glen MP.

It’s late in the day, but email your local MP to encourage them to attend the debate. If you don’t know who your MP is you can find them here: If you are delivering arts and health work in their constituency please provide them with a link to further information. 

Please also send them the link to the debate HERE. It may also be helpful to link to the Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing webpage HERE. and ask MPs whether they might consider joining the APPG. A strong expression of interest in the debate is likely to prompt increased action in response to the Inquiry report.

I’m currently out of the UK and frustrated not to be attending this Westminster debate - so please, please, please encourage North West MP’s to attend. For regular readers of this blog and attendees of North West Arts & Health Network events, you’ll be aware that on 5th January - to kick start the new year -I hope to be hosting a follow-on event to the launch of Creative Health. Part of me feels the substance of thisWestminster Hall debate, may well inform the event in January. So we need passionate political political advocates from our region to attend. 

I’m very excited to see that Jayne Howard in the South West has launched a new organisation the Both West. Arts Well champions the role of the arts and creativity in promoting health and wellbeing. It works with organisations, large and small, to develop projects and programmes that respond to identified needs. Jayne was Director of the national-award winning Arts for Health Cornwall for 11 years, and prior to that was a Director of Public Health in Cornwall. It will be great to follow their progress and from all of us in the North West - great things ahead. Check out their website HERE.


A little further away from Manchester, an exhibition of drawings by refugee children in Berlin, made with British visual poet Philip Davenport. The exhibition opens 13 October, 3pm at Paul-Schneider-Haus in Spandau, Berlin and continues until 23 November. Some of you will know Philip from his work as part of arthur+martha and this exhibition represents a significant piece of work for him over this last year.

The drawings show a child's everyday, but with the sharpness of war punching through. A policeman with a truncheon hides in one corner of 'A normal day'. A mother walks through a field equally divided between trees and explosions. Several of the drawings have been made into "poster poems", with comments from adults in their community incorporated into the designs. The poster poems, made in collaboration with Syrian designer Deya Nemo, are a gentle, sideways look at the human cost of war, the subtle losses, including childhood itself. The naivety of the drawings contrast with the questioning of adults. Sharp and cynical, though still child-like, these conversation pieces between children and adults continually ask: where are we now?

Davenport's workshops took place in the busy corridor of the Staakener Strasse asylum seekers' shelter in Spandau, Berlin. He directed weekly sessions, over a period of 6 months. The idea was to get the children’s energy down on paper, an act of creation and of release. What emerged were children's drawings, but with an angular, agitated quality. They attacked the paper on occasions. One artist had such shaky hands that his drawings were almost those of an old man.

Davenport describes the workshops: "A blast of energy, full of delight, mischief - but a certain brittleness too. As I slowly got to know the children I began to understand the cost of the epic life journey they'd taken, to reach safety here in Berlin. They'd kept their lives but lost trust..."

Davenport also interviewed many older members of the community at Staakener Strasse, weaving their thoughts into the work. The interviews and a diary of the project are online at the blog of the arthur+martha arts organisation, which Davenport co-directs - 

The 21st-century is a time of instability. Political change, climate change, economic change, bring unprecedented human movement. But some of the most sensitive witnesses have not been consulted...More details here.,


Arts Award Access Fund (England)
Deadline: 5pm, Friday 20 October 2017
The Access Fund provides grants of between £100 and £1500 to Arts Award centres working on Arts Award projects with young people for whom access and inclusion is an issue. It welcomes applications from all registered Arts Award centres based in England, but priority will be given to centres that:
are working with young people for whom access and inclusion is an issue
will use the grant to support them to pilot, embed or develop their Arts Award work with these groups. For full details click HERE. 

Yapp Charitable Trust (UK)
Grants of up to £3,000 per year for up to three years are available through the Yapp Charitable Trust to small registered charities to help with their running costs and salaries and to help sustain their existing work. The funding is only available to registered charities a total annual expenditure of less than £40,000 and that work with:
  Elderly people
  Children and young people aged 5 – 25
  People with physical impairments
  Learning difficulties or mental health challenges
  People trying to overcome life-limiting problems of a social, rather than
  medical, origin (such as addiction, relationship difficulties, abuse, offending)

  People who are educationally disadvantaged, whether adults or children.
There are no closing dates and applications can be submitted at any time. Read more HERE. 


Sunday, 1 October 2017

…on the mustering of ‘effective antagonisms’

First of all here’s a poem by Amy Lowell called Superstition

I have painted a picture of a ghost

Upon my kite,
And hung it on a tree.
Later, when I loose the string
And let it fly,
The people will cower
And hide their heads,
For fear of the God
Swimming in the clouds.

Medical Notes and Songbirds: improving children's lives through music in hospital
A seminar examining the benefits of music making for children in hospital as delivered by Lime Music for Health at The Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and evaluated by the Salford School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Thursday 5th October 10-12pm, hosted by the Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy and CYP@Salford. For full details of this FREE event click HERE.

Arts Council England Grants for the Arts
Grants for the Arts is the ACE open access funding programme for individuals, art organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. It offers awards from £1,000 to £100,000 to support a wide variety of arts-related activities, from dance to visual arts, literature to theatre, music to combined arts. Grants for the Arts is a rolling programme with no deadlines. Decisions on applications for £15,000 or less take six weeks. Decisions on applications of over £15,000 take 12 weeks. Click HERE.

Connected Communities Innovation Fund (England)
A new £4 million fund has been launched to encourage more people to volunteer alongside public services, and inspire new ways of giving for those who haven't previously volunteered. The fund has a specific focus on helping those aged 50 and over, those who want to give time infrequently rather than routinely, and those who want to give their time and skills from the comfort of their own home to good causes. The Connected Communities Innovation Fund has identified four priority areas it wants to support, these are:
Bringing communities closer to create shared resources and support one and other
Supporting community resilience in emergencies
Improving the environment
Creating new forms of digital social action.
Approximately 15-20 organisations or partnerships will supported through this funding round. To apply, organisations need to submit an expression of interest be midday on the 30th October 2017. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend and applicants workshop. Read more HERE.

Gannett Foundation Grants
The Gannett Foundation, which is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc., owner of the Newsquest Media Group, one of the UK's largest newspaper publishers, is inviting applications to support projects that benefit the local community. Applications are welcome for specific items of equipment, anything from a box of toys for disadvantaged children, to sophisticated medical equipment for cancer research. Applications must be by registered charities. The grants available can be up to £10,000. Please note that grants are not available for salaries, professional fees or day-to-day running or maintenance costs, general appeals, political or religious objectives, state or privately-run schools (other than special needs), hospitals (other than hospices) or projects that do not bring benefits to the local community.

Groups that have received an award from the Foundation within the last two years cannot apply this year. The closing date for applications is the 9th October 2017. Applications need to be submitted via the local Newsquest Media Group papers. For more information click HERE. 

What a week
- and frustrating to be leaving just as the Big Anxiety begins in earnest! But as well as soaking up some of the people and work that really have kick-started this festival - it’s been an honour to be a part of its opening and having two nicely attended auditoriums at the Museum of Contemporary Art for dis/ordered, and launched a new book Critical Care - it’s been time wonderfully spent. It really is the largest scale arts and mental health festival of its kind globally and wonderfully devoid of hierarchy, blurring the boundaries between artists, scientists and people - everyday humans with all their wonderful textures.

This is a major achievement mixing research and exchange. I was blindsided by a wonderfully
‘awkward conversation’ with the supremely articulate Alessandro Donagh-De Marchi and together we discussed our shared experiences and thoughts around suicide. What could have been the darkest and most unsettling conversation was instead nuanced and alive with ideas and exchange - and ways in which we all might support each other and ourselves in extremis. Superb and thank you.  

Here’s a thought from Robert Walser in Jakob von Gunten

With all my ideas and follies I could one day found a corporate company for the propagation of beautiful but unreliable imaginings.

For those of you just chomping at the bit to get your hands on a copy of Critical Care, it’s available in Australia right now, and in mid December there’ll be copies in the UK. In short, I’ve been working with, and observing the work of social artist Vic McEwan over the last few years, whilst he’s been exploring sound and much more at Alder Hey. I see it as an unfolding story and a gentle illumination of the relationships in and around such a sensitive area as paediatric intensive care. But it has arts and health running through its core, like a stick of Blackpool rock and perhaps it might just offer a counter blast to the prevailing cult of standardisation, econometrics and scientism within our community of practice - research and activism.

For those of you in Australia who were particularly interest in getting a copy of my script for dis/ordered; as I mentioned, I’m not publishing anything from it at the moment, but I’ve set out some of the key reference material from my more belligerent research section. These are below, and I hope are useful in digital links.

Thanks for such lovely feedback. Without a second thought, I dedicated my film (and all its music) to Mark Fisher whom I cited shamelessly in my ‘performance’. So here’s that list of some of my key references as promised, but let’s cut to the quick - here’s the first thing I read by him - and like the other links to him below, you’ll see just why I’m pissed off not to have had the opportunity to have known him. (Thanks AR for introducing me to his work)

Finally let’s not forget dear old Fyodor Dostoevsky who in Notes from Underground fired a warning shot against the reduction of our universe to mechanical laws, instead urging us to embrace irrationality to salvage our very selves. 

Twice two makes four is an excellent thing, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.

Toodle Pip!


Three Francis Galton Links:
Three Generation of Lunatic Cats

A Statistical Inquiry into the Efficacy of Prayer

Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences

Obsession - A History, Lennard J Davis

Stephen Metcalf - Neoliberalism: The idea that Swallowed the World

Peter Kinderman et al - Drop the Language of Disorder

Gary Greenberg - Manufacturing Depression

Three by Mark Fisher Capitalist Realism  

Why mental health is a political issue 
Good for Nothing 

Oliver James - The Selfish Capitalist,

Dr Margaret McCartney - The Patient Paradox

My reflections on coerced sterilisation in the 20th century were taken from the website Independent Lens and the article by Lisa Ko

Stephen Jay Gould - a definition of Biological Determinism

The Christian think-tank, Theos published a research report on Christinaity and Mental Health HERE. 

References to genetic home testing were taken from the websites of Thriva, 23andme and Psynomics Inc.


Friday, 22 September 2017

A N X I E T Y +

I’m blogging from the spring-fragrant streets of Sydney where I’m thrilled (and slightly overwhelmed) to be amongst some superb artists, free thinkers and activists, exploring that seemingly expanding 21st century phenomena - anxiety.

The Big Anxiety Festival opened on Wednesday night at the University of New South Wales, where the whole thing is being led by Professor Jill Bennett and her wonderful team (to whom, my big thanks). It’s a festival that stretches over two months and places mental health and mental difference at the heart of the arts scene across Sydney. It’s a celebration of all things human including difficult conversations and real world provocations. Here are two that resonate.

Yesterday evening I went over to the western suburbs to Fairfield Gallery & Museum and the exhibition, We Are All Affected. Curated by Khaled Sabsabi and Nur Shkembi, it’s the result of some serious community engagement stemming from an Eid Festival public arts event and exploring anxiety in the lives of Australian Muslims. To say this is a complex and fraught area of work, would be an understatement and in the panel discussion that followed the opening, those speaking illuminated lived experience and the relevance of the arts in this conversation. The work on show is by members of Eleven, a collective or artists, curators and writers who have engaged in this process. 

The work below is by Abdul Abdullah an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney, and who describes himself as an ‘outsider among outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. He’ll be facilitating a workshop – Conspiracy to Commit with young marginalised men exploring the concepts of anxiety, distress or anger sometimes faced by young men dealing with relentless negative stereotypes and public imagery. More details about all this work can be found HERE.

The Wedding (Conspiracy to Commit) (2015) by Abdul Abdullah depicts a young couple in contemporary wedding costumes that bear the vivid colour and fine embellishment of Islamic culture. They sit within a fantasy-themed scene of flowing curtains and mounds of green and white flowers, yet their expressions of happiness are substituted with balaclavas and rigid postures.The brides and grooms in these photographs are shown in their wedding attire against typical studio backdrops, but their features are masked by close-fitting balaclavas, contrasting the joyous occasion of a wedding and the dehumanising masks associated with criminality. Though political in context, Abdullah's works do not attempt to address any specifics of Islam or comment on particular individuals who practice it, but instead addresses the complex feelings of displacement and alienation associated with histories of diaspora and migration.

Today I am going to see the world’s highest resolution 3D immersive environment and an exhibition called Parragirls, Past, Present which is an immersive experience, presenting former residents’ visions of the Parramatta Girls Home today. Up until the early 1980s, ‘children at risk’ were held at Parramatta Girls Home and subjected to unwarranted punishment and abuse, as has emerged in the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The work has been made in collaboration with Parragirls and media artists rewrites the public history of the former child welfare institution, unsettling myth and memory. Returning after 40 years, the Parragirls seek out traces to substantiate what really happened there. It sounds like a troubling, profound and potentially cathartic piece of work for all those involved.

For my part, I am reprising my time with Vic McEwan for a large scale exhibition of his immersive work The Harmonic Oscillator which we opened at Tate Liverpool earlier in the year. I’ve written a book about working with Vic and the extraordinary time we spent together with one young patient at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I’ll share more online after it’s been published next week, but for anyone reading this in Australia we’ll be giving a shared public presentation of our work on 28 September, between 7:00 PM — 8:00 PM at the USNW Art and Design, EG02 Lecture Theatre, Paddington Campus. This is when the book will be launched too. Our work has been very generously described as: “Arguably one of the most adventurous and profound arts-health interventions to date, the story of their collaboration on a project at Alder Hey hospital is both intensely moving and inspirational.”

I’ll also be delving deeper into my own fractured psyche as part of something new I’ve written for the festival. It’s called dis/ordered and gives me the opportunity to explore what might be called childhood obsessive compulsive disorder - but equally - might not! So expect some personal reflection alongside some thoughts on the possibilities that what we describe as a ‘disorder’ might in fact, be a natural response to an unhealthy world. From the blinkered pseudo-science of statisticians, to the gibbering-delusions of a sun-kissed egotist president, it’ll be a passionate romp through the self and the selfish - so let’s see how that one goes. Again, if you’re an Aussie reader, this is all happening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on Saturday afternoon and next Thursday evening. More details are HERE.

Alongside the unfolding festival, its director Jill Bennett has guest edited Artlink, the quarterly themed magazine covering contemporary art and ideas from Australia and the Asia-Pacific.This edition explore themes of anxiety, fear, stress and mental health from a range of cultural and neuro-diverse perspectives. Commissioned essays, artist and project profiles forefront current practices and trends in the visual arts and related disciplines as a therapeutic, creative and intellectual response to living in a state of anxiety. An interview between Jill and myself has been written up under the title, Diversity and disruption in arts and health, and you can read the whole thing for free HERE. If you want a taste, here’s the opening gambit.

Jill Bennett  
What’s wrong with arts and health?

Clive Parkinson  
Well, the movement, if that’s what we want to call it, seems to be thriving. Yet without diversity, it risks becoming inward‑looking and self‑congratulatory. At the moment, there’s a dominance in the field of a turgid middle ground that seeks to answer the call of health leaders, to tailor something that sounds like art into the health agenda. But in truth, it’s all about trying to be a bland cost‑effective solution to health targets in a climate of austerity. This is a case of finding blanket solutions, which hand‑in‑hand with a corporate aesthetic seem remote from anything you might call art.

Meanwhile, closer to home...

The Art of the Possible

This quick guide to commissioning arts and culture is for commissioners of health and wellbeing services on partnering with the sector to deliver better outcomes. Targeted at local authorities, CCGs, hospital trusts and other health bodies, it draws on the Cultural Commissioning Programme’s learning, including work with Kent County Council and Gloucestershire CCG, where innovative partnerships and whole person approaches are being used to reduce the need for costly interventions further down the line. It includes practical guidance and case studies, covering aspects of physical health, mental health and wellbeing. It has been produced by NCVO in collaboration with the Association of Directors of Public Health. Click HERE. 

Health & Wellbeing Fund

The Department of Health and Public Health England have launched a new application round through the Health and Wellbeing Fund. The fund is part of the Health and Wellbeing programme. Each round focuses on a specific theme. The theme for this round is social prescribing.  Social prescribing is generally understood to be an intervention through which people are supported to access non-medical services in the community. Examples include befriending, art classes and exercise classes, but a wide variety of activities can be included. Typically, a community navigator/link worker will work with the individual to co-produce solutions that best suit their needs. Applications of up to £300,000 (in year 1) are being accepted from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.  The Government will be holding a series of webinars in September and October. The webinars will cover the application process and provide an opportunity for potential applicants to ask questions. The closing date for applications is the 21st November 2017. Read more HERE. 

BBC Children in Need Small Grants Programme 
Not for profit organisations such as schools; registered charities; voluntary organisations; churches; and community interest groups; etc. can apply for grants of up to £10,000 per year for up to 3 years for projects that help children and young people overcome the effects of:
  Illness, distress, abuse or neglect; disability
  Behavioural or psychological difficulties
  Poverty and deprivation.
The closing date for applications is the 1st December 2017. Read more HERE.   

Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowships 

The Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest providers of research funding in the UK and has announced that applications are now being accepted for the International Academic Fellowships programme. This programme enables established researchers based at UK higher education institutions to spend a period of time in overseas research centres, to develop new knowledge, skills and ideas. The maximum value of a Fellowship is £45,000. Eligible costs include:
Reasonable replacement cover whilst the Fellow is overseas
Travel to and within the overseas country or countries
A maintenance grant to meet the increased expense of living overseas
Essential research costs.
Fellowships are available for between three and 12 months, and the current round of awards must commence between 1 June 2018 and 1 May 2019. The closing date for applications is the 9th November 2017. Read more HERE.   

The Peter Cruddas Foundation

Registered charities in England and Wales can apply for funding for projects that benefit disadvantaged and disengaged young people in England and Wales. Priority is given to programmes designed to help disadvantaged and disengaged young people in the age range of 14 to 30, to pursue pathways to Education, Training and Employment with the ultimate aim of helping them to become financially independent. There is no minimum or maximum amount and projects can be funded for more than one year. However, the Peter Cruddas Foundation will be looking to the applicant to demonstrate that they can manage the amount they have applied for and how they intend to continue (if appropriate) after the funding has been spent. Please note that the Foundation is not accepting applications for Capital Projects. The next closing date for application is the 1st March 2017. Read more HERE.  


Sunday, 3 September 2017

...hey ho

So - this blogger is taking a little research leave over the autumn, to finish off some big work and embark on all things new. More of that very soon, if you can bear it!

I am thrilled to be asked to speak at the
Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney as part of The Big Anxiety Festival this year. It's a great line-up and I'm honoured to be part of the largest arts and mental health festival on the planet. My presentation will be all things obsessive and compulsive - but not in the slightest - disordered! Read more by clicking on my lucky kitten below. 

For those of you from the arts, health and other connected communities of interest, I plan to facilitate a follow-up event to the APPG Creative Health launch, which is planned to take place at Manchester School of Art on January 5th 2018. So keep that date in mind. Of course we’ll have some special political and cultural guests, but we really want to dig down into that report and see what it means to us - and what we want to take forward as a region. So whether you’re a researcher, activist or artist - look out for calls for expressions of interest in sharing, provoking and shaking up the system.

I’ll be posting explicitly about this event in November.

UNSEEN: Simultaneous Realities
For now, a big congratulations to Mark Prest and all his ongoing work as part of PRIDE and some incredibly exciting Recoverist work across Greater Manchester. 

Film Still. Fruit Bowl. courtesy Amanda Ravetz & Huw Wahl

UK Arts Threatened by Planned £39m British Council Cut!

The British Council could be forced to scale back its activities in developed countries if a planned Government funding cut takes place. Should the cut be confirmed, the organisation’s funding for so-called ‘developed economies’ without access to official development assistance would be reduced from £39m in 2016/17 to £13m in 2018/19, and to zero by 2019/20. A British Council spokesperson confirmed the reduction could have some impact on the arts in Europe and the across wider developed world, but said there would be “no impact” on the UK’s Creative Europe programme, which is managed by the Council but funded by the European Union. Thanks to Arts Professional for their reporting. Click HERE. 

St Helens Local Cultural Education Partnership Development Officer for St Helens Council
Salary: From £25,951 to £27,668 per annum, pro rata
St.Helens Council is looking to appoint someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about arts and culture in education to the newly created role of Development Officer for the St Helens Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP), which has recently been named as the first Artsmark town in the North West. The successful candidate will have knowledge of a wide variety of creative and performing arts and the workings of arts practitioners and the cultural industries alongside a deep understanding of the school curriculum and the current issues affecting schools.  You will have strong organisational and communication skills and will be an excellent negotiator and advocate for the arts with a wide variety of audiences.   Key tasks of the role will include:  the finalising of the activity plan and schools’ offer; encouraging buy in by all schools and academies, brokering activities and training for schools with a wide variety of artists and cultural providers; formulating an evaluation framework to measure impact and other outcomes and outputs; manage the LCEP project budget and make regular progress reports to the LCEP steering group and its funders; and being able to successfully draw in additional external funding.
The post was created in partnership with St Helens Council and Curious Minds with funding from Arts Council England and Public Health. Whilst the post has been advertised on a temporary basis till March 2019 there will be the possibility to extend the role beyond this point subject to the success of the candidate in this respect. The post is for 22.5 hours over 3 days per week term time only plus three extra weeks to a total of 42 weeks per year, temporarily until March 2019, and is subject to a satisfactory DBS and other pre-employment checks.

Deadline for applications: Tuesday 5th September 2017; Interview date: Thursday 21st September 2017. Further information is HERE. 

Design for the Future
”I am now completely convinced that the GP within the NHS will have no enjoyable or creative future until the arts led “libraries and health“ partnership work is understood, valued and firmly supported in every possible way by both GPs and Librarians across the whole of the UK” – Dr Malcolm Rigler

You can see a presentation called Design for the Future, by the brilliant Dr Malcolm Rigler, a NHS GP and member of the Cilip Health Group. Malcolm is co-founder of the Health/Art/Libraries (HAL) project, which aims to design and deliver arts projects, events, publications, workshops, and training to help patients and carers in their search for information and understanding about health, social care and life changes working along the theme of ‘Libraries on Prescription.’ Read more by clicking HERE. 

Aviva Community Fund
The Aviva Community Fund is due to re-open for applications on the 12th September 2017. Community organisations will be able to apply for funding of between £1,000 and £25,000 to support their projects within one of the following four categories:
  Health and Wellbeing
  Skills for Life
  Community support
Applicants will need support from the community for their application in the form of votes and the most voted for applications will go through to the final to be judged. Voting will start on the 23rd October 2017 and applicants will need to have submitted their project by the 10th October 2017. The fund is open to anyone over the age of 18 living in the UK. If the applicant is under the age of 18 and wishes to submit an entry to the Awards, they must provide the consent of an appropriate adult associated with the project they are entering. Read more HERE.

The Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund
The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the Museums Association, funds projects that can demonstrate the inspiring and engaging potential of their collection to deliver social impact for people and communities. Museums, galleries and heritage organisations from across the UK can apply for a grant of between £20,000 and £120,000 for projects that:
Engage local communities and/or those who aren't typical museum attendees
Improve the understanding of an existing collection or collections
Are developmental for the organisation or sector; etc.
Projects can last up to three years. There is a two-stage process with shortlisted stage one applicants invited to make a full application. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 6 September 2017. Read more HERE. 

Gannett Foundation Grants
The Gannett Foundation, which is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc., owner of the Newsquest Media Group, one of the UK's largest newspaper publishers, is inviting applications to supports projects that benefit the local community. Applications are welcome for specific items of equipment, anything from a box of toys for disadvantaged children, to sophisticated medical equipment for cancer research. Applications must be by registered charities. The grants available can be up to £10,000. Please note that grants are not available for salaries, professional fees or day-to-day running or maintenance costs, general appeals, political or religious objectives, state or privately run schools (other than special needs), hospitals (other than hospices) or projects that do not bring benefits to the local community. Groups that have received an award from the Foundation within the last two years cannot apply this year. The closing date for applications is the 9th October 2017. Applications need to be submitted via the local Newsquest Media Group papers. Read more HERE. 

£15 million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund
Towns and cities across Northern England are able to bid for a share of a new fund that aims to boost the region's technology, creative and cultural industries. The UK Government's Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund aims to help build a lasting regional legacy from the Great Exhibition of the North planned for summer 2018. Grants of up to £4 million in each of three financial years (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21) will be available to eligible Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the 11 Northern Regions of England. The funding will support capital expenditure on major culture and tech projects like, for example, opening a new tech start-up centre or renovating live music venues. LEPs are each invited to submit one bid for up to £4million to the Fund. Applications should be for a single capital project that fits within the overall priorities for the Fund and evidences the need for the project and the rationale for intervention in the local area. All projects supported will be expected to increase opportunities for people to experience, benefit from and contribute to culture and creativity. The deadline for LEP bids is 30th November 2017. Read more HERE.