Wednesday, 3 February 2016

…is there an elephant in the room?

All hail the illustrious leaders in arts & health - those golden, luminary figures from the field who selflessly promote our shared societal progress into the 21st century! This Friday sees what’s billed as the 'first national arts in health conference & showcase' - and all for fifty quid. 

We’ll put aside the international events like the Culture Health & Wellbeing Conference in Bristol (2013) and the CHARTS event in Manchester (1999) that brought Augusto Boal, Patch Adams and a myriad of others to share practice and research. Actually, lets put aside all the national, regional and local events that take place across the UK every year, and focus on the event in hand.

It’s all taking place in a Ball Room far, far away - well - London actually, and you’ll have the opportunity to hear a keynote from cultural entrepreneur, pianist and founder/chief executive of AESOP Tim Joss who alongside his partner, former Tomorrow’s World presenter, Vivienne Parry OBE will present an event targeted at decision makers. Click on Hunts face for more details.

Peppered throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to an array of stellar civil servants. At the top of the pecking order and noted for his thorough understanding of the field, will be former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, now Secretary of State for Health, the Right Honourable, Jeremy Hunt MP. Barrister, academic lawyer and Chair of NHS England, Sir Malcolm Grant, CBE comes second on the billing, who alongside Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health & Wellbeing, Public Health England represent the big beasts in the English NHS. Dear old Sir Peter Bazalgette, the outgoing Chair of Arts Council England will have a thing or two to say and then there’s Kent County Council’s, Emma Hanson. 

Following a range of showcase workshops from some good people in the field, there’ll be the chance to take part in a session ‘looking to the future’ with Mystic Meg. (that bit was a joke actually - sadly Meg isn’t visionary enough to take part) The plenary will explore a vision for arts and health over the next Five Years. There will be a launch of an ‘Aesop’ sustainable (does that mean there’s a cost involved, I wonder) on-line dating site for those of a certain arts/health disposition! There’ll also be the launch of an ‘Aesop arts for health and wellbeing evaluation and development framework commissioned by Public Health England’. Sadly for this blogger, I’m working out of the country, so will miss out on the day, but I’m sure I’ll read the subsequent marketing. I do hope that those attending will have the opportunity to throw interesting questions to those with political influence.

For those interested in frameworks, strategies and principles - I always recommend the work of Mike White and Mary Robson who in 2010 wrote the succinct and perfect, Participatory Arts Practice in Healthcare Contexts - Guidelines for Good Practice. This is a piece of work that has some core values at the heart of it.

Still, I did have the opportunity to speak at an event organised by Arts & Health Ireland last Friday as part of the centenary celebrations of the Easter Rising in 1916. As an English man, I was very honoured to be asked to share the Manifesto, it’s development and its place in the here and now. Alan Howarth very kindly shared some of his thoughts on the context of the arts in relation to dissent and challenge, and I incorporated them into my presentation, which I’ll share here very soon.

Grants to Help New, Innovative Visual Arts Projects 
The Elephant Trust has announced that the next deadline for applications is the 5th April 2016. The Trust offers grants to artists and for new, innovative visual arts projects based in the UK. The Trust's aim is 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 now being given to artists and small organisations and galleries who should submit well argued, imaginative proposals for making or producing new work or exhibitions. Arts Festivals are not supported. The Trust normally awards grants of up to £2,000, but larger grants may be considered. Ahhhh - here's the elephant in the room! I wondered where it was.Click on it for more details.

Clore Poetry and Literature Awards 
The Clore Duffield Foundation has announced that the 8th round of its £1 million programme to fund poetry and literature initiatives for children and young people across the UK is now open for applications. Through the programme, primary, middle, secondary, special schools, sixth form colleges, academies and further education colleges as well as community groups, libraries and other arts/cultural organisations can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 to support participatory learning projects and programmes focused on literature, poetry and creative writing for under 19s. The closing date for applications is the 7th March 2016. Read more by clicking HERE.

Funding for Music Making Projects 
Youth Music, England's largest children's music charity, which provides funding for music-making projects, has announced new application deadlines for its grant making programmes. Grants are available to fund developmental music-making projects for children and young people up in challenging circumstances as well as projects that support the development of the workforce, organisations and the wider sector. Youth Making's funding programme is made up of three separate funds. These are:
Fund A which offers small grants (up to £30,000) for high quality music-making projects
Fund B offers medium-sized grants (30,001 - £100,000 per year for up to two years) for larger programmes of work
Fund C offers grants (of up to £180,000) for strategic programmes to help embed sustainable, inclusive music-making across a local area.
The types of organisations that are eligible to apply include charities, not for profit organisations and schools. Schools will however have to justify how to activities to be funded do not duplicate Department of Education funding. The closing dates for applications to Fund A is 5pm on the 22nd April 2016 and to Fund B 20th May 2016. Fund C is currently closed to applications. Read more HERE. 

Manchester Mega Mela
Commissioning opportunity at Manchester Mega Mela. Manchester Mega Mela (MMM) is an annual two day celebration of South Asian culture which takes place in Platt Fields Park South Manchester. MMM are looking for proposals to create/build an installation with a strong element of interactivity or street theatre for this year’s event which will provide a visual focal point of interest in the main field alongside other mela activities. Further information is available HERE.
Fee: £3000.00 Deadline: 11th March 2016

Music for Health Project Manager
LIME Music for Health is recruiting an experienced, part-time freelance project manager for their Youth Music funded programme at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – please share the following link with any relevant groups/contacts and thanks in advance. Deadline for applications is 15 February 2016. Details are HERE.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

◎ ◎ ◉ ◉

I’m very excited to be sharing the development of our MANIFESTO with colleagues in Dublin this week at Check Up - Check In. Here in Manchester, I’ll soon be announcing two, free, large-scale events between March and May, so keep your diaries at the ready!

Thanks for all the interest in Libraries and Health from last week's posting. I tried to find a suitable video to link, and this is the best I could do!

Just two things this week - a job and an opportunity for any of you who are pregnant to take part in a performance this spring!

Manchester-based theatre company Quarantine are inviting pregnant women from the Greater Manchester region to take part in a new theatre performance project, Spring. 

Spring. is the final part of Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. - an epic quartet of performances about the human life-cycle and our relationship with time. It will be made in co-production with HOME and Contact and performed 4 times in a specially built theatre space inside Manchester’s Old Granada Studios between Friday 25th March and Sunday 3rd April.

Spring. will be made with and about the women who are in it, as they try to imagine the coming weeks, months and years... It is a piece about about expecting, in both senses of the word, with up to 15 women at various stages of pregnancy asking hundreds of questions about the future, live on-stage.

Quarantine are not looking for actors. No previous performance experience is necessary and there are no lines to learn. The call-out is for women from a truly diverse range of backgrounds who can each bring their own unique voice to the project.

Those wishing to take part will need to be no more than 8 months pregnant at the beginning of April. They should ideally be available to attend the first workshop on Saturday 30 January plus rehearsals on selected weekday evenings and weekends from the week beginning Monday 8 February.

They will also need to be available to take part in all four performances on:
Friday 25 March
Saturday 26 March
Saturday 2 April
Sunday 3 April

This is a voluntary opportunity, but travel expenses will be covered and Quarantine will provide food at all rehearsals.

If you’re interested in being involved, or know someone who might or want to find out more, please contact Kate Daley at or phone 0161 839 4392.

The first workshop will be on Saturday 30 January 2016, so please get in touch by Friday 29 January.

The Horsfall Engagement Officer, 42nd Street
The Horsfall is 42nd Street’s new arts space from which we will build a sustainable programme that  grows our heritage and creative programme run by and for young people, but also available for communities, partners and business from across the region.
The Horsfall promotes wellbeing and social change through socially engaged practice and is inspired by the Ancoats Art Museum a unique social and artistic experiment established by Thomas Horsfall in Ancoats, Manchester at the end of the 19th Century.
The Horsfall Engagement Officer will be responsible for the engagement of young people, local community members and businesses in the delivery of The Horsfall programme, using creative opportunities for active engagement and promotion of mental and health and wellbeing. They will also work with creative practitioners, historians, curators and local residents to deliver a programme of cultural and creative opportunities which raise awareness of the space and engage new audiences in our work.  

NJC Pts. 26-31: £22,937 – £27,123 (pro rata).
15 hours per week (including some evening and weekend work and with the potential for additional hours during key stages of the project)

Permanent, subject to funding
Contributory pension scheme available
Closing date: 5pm on Friday 5th February 2016
Interview date: Monday 15th February 2016

Application Packs:
Download the application pack:
Or send a 90p sae to 42ndStreet, The Space, 87-91, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, M4 5AG. Or, email us at: putting ‘recruitment’ in the subject box, identifying the role you wish to apply for. 
For an application pack in a particular format, please contact us: 0161 228 7321.
Emailed applications are welcome. If you wish to talk about the role, please contact: Julie McCarthy on 0161 228 7321


Sunday, 17 January 2016

...on the sublime

There will be profound and crass things written about the death of David Bowie and it will be interesting to see how people unpick the artistry of his death and subsequent cremation. As one of the millions/minions who grew up under his influence, it’s impossible to pick a favourite track,(although it might be Drive in Saturday, or perhaps Sound and Vision  or, or, or...) so here’s a less obvious song written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington in 1957 and here because it is quite simply, sublime.

A new strategic initiative spearheaded by Dr Malcolm Rigler and The Sound Agents is asserting the place of libraries in the centre of our communities. From personal experience, I know that libraries can be the beating hearts of our towns. Whilst museums and galleries have quite rightly attracted attention through their potential to attract new audiences, promote a wellbeing agenda and maybe - just maybe - address inequalities, libraries have taken a significant beating from a government hell-bent on eradicating them from our high streets. 

In Lancaster and Morecambe the libraries constantly stimulate local participation. I've seen films that you can't see elsewhere, bands that do near-secret gigs - think, amongst others, Juliet Lewis (from Hollywood to Morecambe Library!) and faded balladeers The Thrills, but more poignantly, I know my local library offers something of a sanctuary for local people who are for all sorts of reasons, marginalised. Many moons ago I worked in a large hospital for people with learning disabilities, then years later I managed a drop-in centre for people experiencing schizophrenia. Well, I know that some of those people, (and whose access to services is now grossly reduced and whose lifestyles are administered by quantified, crude, reductivist systems) like nothing more than to use the library as a safe, creative and welcoming space. I know this, because this is the place where I meet people and catch up on old times. 

I recently read the author Neil Gaiman describing how the US government knew how to predict how many prison cells they'll need in fifteen years time - use a simple algorithm based simply on how many children between 10 - 11 can read. In the same article he quoted Albert Einstein who when asked how we could make our children intelligent, replied: "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Gaiman expands beautifully on the place of fiction in health societies.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has stressed the transformative effect on both a family and the wider community when women are literate. 

“Literate women are more likely to send their children, especially their girls, to school,” he said. “By acquiring literacy, women become more economically self-reliant and more actively engaged in their country’s social, political and cultural life. All evidence shows that investment in literacy for women yields high development dividends.”

“Every literate woman marks a victory over poverty,” he noted, calling for “increasing funding and sustained advocacy for quality literacy programmes that empower women and ensure that girls and boys at primary and secondary level do not become a new generation of young illiterates.”

This strategic Libraries & Health Partnership is a critical resource for 21st century communities and our reimagining of health and wellbeing in the heart of the places we live and work. As hubs of learning - places of imagination - and as social condensers - we must support this initiative before libraries are relegated to history.

Awards for All 
Awards for All supports a wide range of activities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including education, heritage, environment, health, community activities, and in most countries, sports and arts. Applications are received on a continuous basis. Read more at: 

Paul Hamlyn Foundation: Arts-Based Learning Fund 
The new Arts-Based Learning Fund from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) has grants available to support charities, community organisations, social enterprises and not-for-profit companies active in the arts that are working with schools, further education colleges and teachers to enhance the lives, development and achievements of children and young people. Two types of grant are available to support work at different stages of development:
The Arts-based Learning ‘explore and test' grants provide funding for up to two years to help test or evaluate new approaches.
The Arts-based Learning ‘more and better' grants provide longer, larger grants to help increase the impact and effectiveness of work which has already shown promise or positive impact.
The deadline for applications is 1st February 2016. Read more at: 

...and one more for good measure.


Sunday, 10 January 2016


Mental Health Services –
Our Plans to Stop some of our Services:A Consultation with People in the City of Manchester
Many of you will know START in Manchester which is under threat of being axed as an arts and mental health service. You have limited time to respond to this public consultation. Please share it as appropriate.

"Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust wishes to engage with patients/service users, carers and the wider community to help us to ensure that the services we provide continue to meet the needs of people living in Manchester, in the most effective way possible. On this page you can find information about our current proposed service changes and how you can have your say.  We would very much welcome your views and comments on any of our current consultations." Click on the Giorgio de Chirico above, for more details and how to make your views known.


Read an article on Taysir Batniji and his work Fathers, by clicking on the image below.

Health Records is an exhibition of new work by artists Claire Tindale and Niki Colclough created in response to their experience delivering workshops on the Renal Unit at the Manchester Royal infirmary. The project was delivered in collaboration with The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) and Kidneys for Life. CFCCA’s engagement programme works with artists to connect with individuals and communities, exploring themes such as cultural and social diversity as it supports UK audiences to better understand Chinese contemporary society through art. In Health Records the artists use practices developed through cultural exchange to respond to the personal identities and narratives of the patients on the Renal Unit. On Monday 18th January  between 10-5pm Niki is offering a MENTORING DAY FOR ARTISTS. These sessions are for artists who are interested in using their practice to deliver arts and health work. You will work to review your experience and portfolio, to understand how you may apply your practice in this way. This is an opportunity to talk through ideas and pathways into this kind of practice. Mentoring slots will be 45 minutes long, starting on the hour throughout the day. Seven slots are available, to enquire about these sessions contact the artist directly: Click on the unsightly patients notes below, for more information.

This week I’m thrilled to announce that Dr. Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt has been awarded a contract by Kings College to undertake research as part of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, which over 2016/17 will be undertaking a series of inquiries into arts and health to ultimately inform government policy. I’ll share more when we have the full details, but for now, it’s good to know that this arts/health field has a critical friend in Rebecca, who has a forensic eye for detail and who was author of last years study of the longitudinal impact of arts participation on health in Nordic countries. Congratulations Rebecca.

#2 The Culture Health & Wellbeing International Conference 2017
19, 20 & 21 June 2017
Bristol, UK
We are in the planning stages for the second Culture Health & Wellbeing International Conference and would welcome your help with this.
Please answer the two questions below:
1. What do you think should be the key themes for the conference?
2. Are you interested in submitting an abstract?
More information will be posted in due course.

Women Make Music Grant Scheme
The next applications deadline for the Performing Right Society's (PRS) Women Make Music grant scheme is 6pm on the 1st February 2016. Through the grant scheme, financial support of up to £5000 is available to women musicians to create new music in any genre. Click on the owls above for more details.

...and as to home grown mindfulness? Well, safe to say, I edited an extended ramble out of this weeks blog, but I keep the title and will revisit this when I can temper myself. For now, I am happy to ruminate.

Friday, 1 January 2016

... a happy new year

To friends of Arts for Health who have worked with us in some way this last year, we hope 2016 is a great one for you and long may our friendships and collaborations continue. Excuse the google translator - and I'm aware that not everyone celebrates new year right now!

Laimingų Naujųjų metų - 明けましておめでとうございます - Gelukkig nieuwjaar - Gott nytt år - Onnellista uutta vuotta - Bhliain nua sásta - Head uut aastat - سنة جديدة سعيدة - Felice anno nuovo - с новым годом - Mutlu Yıllar - Blwyddyn Newydd Dda - Feliz año nuevo - 新年快樂 - Gleðilegt nýtt ár - Jabulela unyaka omusha - نیا سال مبارک ہو - Godt nytår - Feliz Ano Novo

Friday, 25 December 2015

An Eternal Tree

A small thing from the heart of midwinter - Larisa. A 20 minute documentary from film maker Elem Klimov dedicated to Larisa Shepitko. It is beautiful in so many ways and has at its core, a meditation on love and perhaps, how we might contribute to the world - our possibilities.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

✴︎ {...} ✴︎

Almost the end of another year and a blog crammed with funding opportunities, PhD studentships and a significant exploration of the barriers to marginalised and disabled artists attempting to access mainstream arts opportunities. 

If you celebrate christmas - have a lovely break - and I hope that 2016 is a good one for us all.

PhD Studentships 
The University of Brighton is inviting applications for funded PhD studentship topics to commence in September 2016. Expressions of interest to work on topics related to drawing and embodied experience, drawing and wellbeing or drawing in health contexts are particularly welcomed. For an informal discussion on developing an application on any of these themes, please contact Dr Philippa Lyon,, at the earliest opportunity. Closing deadline for final applications to University of Brighton is 22 January 2016. Deadline for TECHNE funding route is 7 February 2016.

Fair Access to the Arts
Creative Future has just completed Arts Council funded research into the barriers marginalised and disabled artists face when accessing mainstream arts opportunities.

Pink Ribbon Foundation Grants
The Pink Ribbon Foundation has announced it is now accepting applications for its 2016 funding round and that the closing date will be the 27th May 2016. The Foundation is a grant making trust that provides financial support to UK charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, or who have been affected by breast cancer or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer, its early detection and treatment. Any charity working in the field of breast cancer can apply for a grant. Applications from general cancer charities must demonstrate that the grants requested will be applied to benefit those affected by breast cancer. Where applications relate to general services, details must be given of how many (and what proportion) of the total number benefiting from the charity's work are affected by breast cancer. Read more at:

Wellcome Trust: Arts Awards 
The Wellcome Trust is inviting organisations and individuals to apply for funding through its Arts Awards. The Arts Awards support projects that engage the public with biomedical science through the arts.

Applications are invited for projects of up to £40,000 through their small grants programme, and for projects above £40,000 through their large grant programme. The aim of the awards is to support arts projects that reach new audiences which may not traditionally be interested in science and provide new ways of thinking about the social, cultural and ethical issues around contemporary science.

The next application deadline for small projects is the 4th March 2016. The deadline for large projects is the 17th February 2016. Read more at:

New Arts Council Funding  
A new £17.5 million Catalyst: Evolve programme from the Arts Council launches on 14th January 2016. The fund will support projects that enhance the capacity of arts and cultural organisations to fundraise. Arts and cultural organisations can apply for grants of between £75,000 and £150,000 over three years. To apply applicants must be able to demonstrate an emerging track record in fundraising from at least one of the following - individuals; trusts and foundations; and businesses. It is expected that about 150 grants will be awarded. All activities funded by the programme must be completed by 31 August 2019. The deadline for applications is 19 February 2016. Read more at: