Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Arts & Health as a Social Movement
A big thanks to Kat Taylor who has held the fort whilst I’ve been away from work. As well as looking after my friends and colleagues from Finland and a North West Arts and Health Networking event with Carola Boehm, she supported the Arts, Health and Social Movements workshop on May 12th
‘LIVE WELL:MAKE ART’ which saw arts practitioners, clinicians and researchers come together to share knowledge and resources across the arts and wellbeing sector. 

The Devolution of Health and Social Care budgets from central Government means some real improvements are anticipated and we came together to consider and inspire action. Change designed and led by communities is more likely to be self-sustaining and far-reaching than that led by public bodies. Using ‘Health as a social movement’ as a provocation, the participants were invited to share information about arts and health work happening across Greater Manchester. Artists from ‘More than Minutes’ created a visual snap-shot during the course of the event. Group discussions focussed on Values & Principles; Cultural Spaces; Collective Intelligence and New Ways of Exploring Difficult Subjects. The workshop identified approaches and models, and potential barriers, before a number of organisations and individuals committed to several action points to effect change. The group will continue to meet regularly to share progress and take actions forward, to create healthier, culturally engaged and socially connected communities across the city. #LiveWellMakeArt

Whilst all this is unfolding, I am reminded that as informal as it might be, we have quite a strong North West Arts and Health Network and we created a shared vision statement in our MANIFESTO for Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

Medical students explore communication with musicians on children’s wards
Ten more third year medical students studied approaches to holistic healthcare with Music for Health and Lime Arts in January 2016. For many this was their first experience of visiting a paediatric hospital, and in seeing first hand the impact of hospitalisation on children and their families. All the students had an interest in either music, or the arts in general – or both – and used their own interests to explore the benefits of music and the arts to young patients who find their lives disrupted by medical treatment.Want to know more? Click HERE.

Art with Heart developed with The Lowry
Thu 23 & Fri 24 June, 8pm
The Studio at The Lowry
£10/ £12

Instinctive, curious, bold and bouncy; Sarah is a mighty proud square peg, which wouldn’t be such a problem if the hole wasn’t so damn round.
Sarah grew up feeling different. Her childhood Doctor thought it was sugar. Her current doctor thinks its ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Sarah still feels different, so what will a label do? Will it change the way you see her and the way she sees herself? With autobiographical comedy, storytelling and conversations with audiences, join award-winning theatre company Art with Heart on a vibrant and daring adventure with new production - Declaration. Read more by clicking on the image above.

Monday, 23 May 2016

...a holding slide

service will resume shortly...

Sunday, 8 May 2016

...a moments distraction from the chaos of existence


More art and sport lessons will boost mental health

'The government’s mental health champion has warned that children are being made ill because art, drama, music and sport lessons are being squeezed out of school timetables by ministers’ insistence on a more academic curriculum. Natasha Devon, who suffered from the eating disorder bulimia nervosa as
a student, said the scale of self-harm among schoolchildren has soared in the past decade, partly because of exam pressures, the rise of social media and parents being too “stressed” to give enough quality time to their families.'You can read more by clicking on the smiley above but be warned, it’s the Sunday Times and you’ll need to be a subscriber!


Mental health champion for UK schools axed after criticising government

'The government has dropped its mental health champion for schools after she publicly criticised current education policies, in particular the testing regime, which she claims is detrimental to children’s mental health. Natasha Devon was appointed by the government last August to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding young people’s mental health, as part of a wider £1.25bn drive to improve care. On Wednesday, however, it emerged that the high-profile role had been axed, raising concerns that the government was attempting to silence her.'
Read the full article for free by clicking on the sad face above!

New £15 Million Funds Open to Increase Diversity of England's Arts and Culture 
The Arts Council England has launched two new funds which focus on diversity in art and culture. The Change Makers fund will help address the lack of diversity in arts leadership, while the Sustained Theatre fund will support Black and minority ethnic theatre makers.
The new £2.6 million Change Makers fund will provide grants of £100,000 - £150,000 to support a cohort of Black, minority ethnic and disabled leaders to develop their leadership skills. 

The £2 million Sustained Theatre fund will provide grants of £200,000 - £500,000 to support the development of established and emerging Black and minority ethnic theatre makers and increase their representation across the wider theatre sector in England.

The closing date for submitting an expression of interest to the Change Makers Fund is the 28th April 2016 with a closing date for full applications on the 23rd June 2016. Click HERE.

Artists International Development Fund 
The Arts Council England has announced that the next closing date for its Artists International Development programme is the 1st June 2016. 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 the Artist's 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. Click HERE.

Sound Sense Director
£36k – £41k, location anywhere reasonable in the UK
Closing date: 5pm Thursday 9 June
An exciting opportunity to lead Sound Sense, the UK professional association of community music and community musicians, following the retirement of the post holder after more than 20 years' service. You would join us at an important time, with membership numbers ever-increasing, UK-wide strategic partnerships to develop further, significant projects (getting care homes singing, community music pedagogy) to fundraise for, and fresh plans for organisational development. More details and application pack HERE. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016


From Helsinki to Manchester: Conversations in Arts, Health & Wellbeing
Limited places available HERE for our free networking event in Manchester with colleagues from Arts Development Centre Finland on Tuesday 17th May.

I get so fed up with new research only being available if you subscribe to the gated community of self-selecting research journals, so it’s always good to see important work published in peer reviewed open access journals that are freely available to a wider community of interest. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health have published the work of Simona Karpavičiūtė and Jūratė Macijauskienė which investigates the Impact of Arts Activity on Nursing Staff Well-Being: An Intervention in the Workplace. This work is not only important in herms of nursing staff, but has implications across the workforce as a whole in health and social care environments. Want to know more?

‘Over 59 million workers are employed in the healthcare sector globally, with a daily risk of being exposed to a complex variety of health and safety hazards. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of arts activity on the well-being of nursing staff. During October–December 2014, 115 nursing staff working in a hospital, took part in this study, which lasted for 10 weeks. The intervention group (n = 56) took part in silk painting activities once a week. Data was collected using socio-demographic questions, the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale, Short Form—36 Health Survey questionnaire, Reeder stress scale, and Multidimensional fatigue inventory (before and after art activities in both groups). Statistical data analysis included descriptive statistics (frequency, percentage, mean, standard deviation), non-parametric statistics analysis (Man Whitney U Test; Wilcoxon signed—ranks test), Fisher’s exact test and reliability analysis (Cronbach’s Alpha). The level of significance was set at p ≤ 0.05. In the intervention group, there was a tendency for participation in arts activity having a positive impact on their general health and mental well-being, reducing stress and fatigue, awaking creativity and increasing a sense of community at work. The control group did not show any improvements. Of the intervention group 93% reported enjoyment, with 75% aspiring to continue arts activity in the future. This research suggests that arts activity, as a workplace intervention, can be used to promote nursing staff well-being at work.’ 

To read the research in full, click on the image below.

Open Grant Scheme
The Ragdoll Foundation is dedicated to supporting the creation, appreciation and awareness of imaginative and innovative content that reflects the world from a child’s point of view. The Ragdoll Foundation’s Open Grant scheme has been designed to support the cultural sector’s work with children and young people. Its vision is to support projects where the concerns of childhood can be heard. All applications are expected to contribute to the Ragdoll Foundation’s primary purpose. The Open Grant Scheme is open for application.

Preference will be given to innovative projects that share the same values of imagination and creativity as the Ragdoll Foundation. In particular, those projects which have a deep commitment to listening to children and allow the perceptions and feelings of children themselves to be better understood. It 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.

The Ragdoll Foundation welcomes applications of up to £50,000, though the majority of grants made are likely to be in the region of £5,000 to £30,000. Applications will be considered for both one-off short-term projects and for projects lasting up to three years. The Ragdoll Foundation accepts applications from not-for-profit organisations based in the UK. It will only fund work that is legally charitable. For full details and eligibility criteria, click on the image below.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation: Shared Ground Fund
The Shared Ground Fund will support organisations to provide direct services and support to young people, and/or work that seeks to influence relevant policy or practice. It will provide organisations with the financial support they need to test new approaches and explore ways of addressing new challenges in this area of great change and uncertainty. 

Applicants must contribute to one or both aims:
Living well together – supporting work for the benefit of young people which helps communities experiencing high levels of migration become stronger and more connected
Staying safe – ensuring that young migrants in greatest need can get help and support
The ‘explore and test’ grants are open to applications now and are accepted on a rolling basis. Read more HERE.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

‘The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.’

Thanks to the economist JK Galbraith for that pithy observation.

Your blogger is quite a keen European and whilst not wanting to knock those in favour of staying in Europe, HM Treasury has left me unimpressed by reducing the argument to stay, to the ‘dismal science!’ Again, biased assumptions and dummy variables illustrated through the most impenetrable pseudo-scientific equations and designed to blind the pubic with maths. These equations are intended to stump you, by quantifying how we’ll all be poorer if we leave.

Just give us a good argument you gibbering fools, give us reasons, provocations and narrative to inform our decision making, not your ridiculous manufactured 'objectivity'.

Applications for tickets now available
Last week I mentioned our free event with colleagues from Arts Promotion Centre Finland on Tuesday 17th May between 10:00 and 15:00. You can now apply for a ticket by clicking on the image of Alpo Aaltokoski below. Tickets are very limited, so please only book if you intend to come.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport have published:
The Culture White Paper
If you’ve not already seen it, ‘this is the first white paper for culture in more than 50 years and only the second ever published. It is the latest contribution to our approach to public support for art and culture.”

There’s a lot in it and I’m pleased that they acknowledge the ongoing work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts and Health, specifically:

‘We will work with Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Public Health England to build on the findings of this programme; to ensure that publicly-funded cultural events and programmes have a cumulative positive effect on health; and to respond to the recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts and Health when it reports on arts and health policy next year.’

They also acknowledge that, ‘more work is required to understand the impact of culture on some of the high level outcomes, in particular subjective wellbeing’

You can read the full report HERE.

The Royal Society for Public Health... 
...are awarding the latest round of gongs to those who put themselves forward for an arts and health award. If you fancy a bash, the details are on the flyer above. It has to be noted that whilst it's a public health award, the criteria seem less focused on communities and the social determinants of health and more on arts and music in hospitals and hospices!  
For more information and details of how to nominate yourself, click HERE.

Grants to Help New, Innovative Visual Arts Projects
The Elephant Trust has announced that the next deadline for applications is the 27th June 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. Read more by clicking on the Lee Miller photograph above.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

...Arts Promotion Centre Finland at Manchester School of Art

After a short break, this blog comes bouncing back with a spring in its step - a little older, and yet - optimistic at the potential of all our futures. First thing to report is that in collaboration with the Manchester School of Art, Arts and Health Research Network, there’ll be a North West Arts and Health Network event here at MMU on 17th May between 10:00 and 15:00. More details will emerge over the next couple of weeks, but get the date in your diary. In short, we’ll have seven guests from Arts Promotion Centre Finland whose work is all focused on health and wellbeing and encompasses producers, dancers and theatre practitioners and more. We want to hear about their work in research, development and practice and share some of ours with them. So a day of sharing and exploration and - who knows - maybe future collaborative work.

Did you know that the Finnish Government aims to anchor arts and cultural services as a part of the social and health care system? As part of this three-year endeavour, Arts Promotion Centre Finland is funding arts and cultural projects, which advance wellbeing and are organised alongside the social and health care sector, with two million euros. The idea is to increase the use of art and culture services in social and health care sector - especially across preventive work. Building on the principle of a percent for art (which has predominantly been focused on the visual arts in health care buildings) the government is hoping to apply to this to the performing arts!

Want to know more? Keep the date and check this blog for an update next week. For now, An Elephant Never Forgets.

Funding to Support Disadvantaged Young People
The Weavers' Company, a textile-related, charitable and sociable organisation, has announced that the next closing date for its grants programme is the 1st August 2016. The Weaver's Company Benevolent Fund supports projects working with disadvantaged young people (aged 5 to 30 years) to ensure that they are given every possible chance to meet their full potential and to participate fully in society. The Fund also aims to help young people at risk of criminal involvement to stay out of trouble and assist in the rehabilitation of offenders, particularly young offenders both in prison and after release. Grants are usually no more than £15,000 per annum, and to make sure grants of this size have an impact, we will not fund large organisations. To be eligible for funding, local organisations such as those working in a village, estate or small town should normally have an income of less than £100,000. Those working across the UK should normally have an income of not more than £250,000.
Click hither.

Lloyds Bank Foundation announces next funding round (England & Wales)
The Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales, which provides funding to charities for projects to help people break their cycle of disadvantage, has announced that its grants programmes will re-open for applications on the 25th April 2016. The Foundations operates two funding programmes. These are: "Invest" which is a flexible, long term core funding programme for charities helping disadvantaged people. Grants are up to £25,000 per year for between 2 and 6 years, with the opportunity for continuation funding for up to six years in total; and "Enable" which is a smaller and shorter grants programme for charities that have identified clear development needs. This funding aims to help the organisations deliver their mission more effectively. These grants are up to a total £15,000 for up to two years. The funding is available to registered charities and charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) with an income of between £25,000 and £1 million. To be eligible, organisations are expected to be working with people 17 years or older, experiencing multiple disadvantage at one of the critical points in their life. The only exceptions are young people who are under 17 years of age and young parents or looked after children and disabled young people moving into independent living. Click wither.

Who is this young girl?

Additional £1.5m for the Near Neighbours Fund (England)
The Near Neighbours small grants programme will reopen to applications in spring/early summer 2016 following an additional £1.5m investment from the UK Government. Using the infrastructure of the Church of England, the Near Neighbours funding programme provides small grants and support to grassroots groups to help them run projects that bring about lasting benefits to neighbourhoods with significant religious diversity. The idea is to bring people together that are religiously and ethnically diverse, so that they can get to know each other better, build relationships of trust and collaborate together on initiatives that improve the local community they live in. The funding covers a broad range of activities across the arts, the environment and sport.
Click thither.

The Discovery Foundation
The Santander Foundation has changed its name to the Discovery Foundation. This is to reflect the importance of its new flagship community programme - the Discovery Project - within Santander UK. The Discovery Foundation will provide grants for local projects that give disadvantaged people the confidence to discover and create new opportunities. The Foundation's previous three grants schemes have been combined into a single new scheme called Discovery Grants making it simpler to apply for funding. Discovery Grants of up to £5,000 are available to UK Registered Charities, Community Interest Companies and Credit Unions to fund local projects helping disadvantaged people. Funding is available to cover part time salaries, equipment or materials but is for one year and must deliver a local project, not a national initiative. Applicants need to complete a Discovery Grant nomination form which is available in all Santander branches. 
There are no closing dates and grants are made every month. Oh, just click here. 

Homotopia Festival Project Manager 
£20k - £22k pro rata depending on experience (£8840.00 based on £22,100 pro rata)
Hours: 30 hrs. p/w, usually over 4 days; May – November 2016
Homotopia champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people's lives. The organisation produces year round engagement programmes and an internationally renowned arts festival every November. We are looking for an exceptional & proactive individual for a new position of ‘Festival Project Manager’.  This is an exciting opportunity to join a unique cultural organisation with an international profile. The role will provide organisational, curatorial and administrative support, coordinating the preparation & supporting the delivery of the Homotopia Festival in Liverpool November 2016. Click on the elephant above.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

...a love filled slap

This weekend marks the start of the 100 years commemoration of the Easter Rising in Ireland, where on the streets of Dublin, free thinkers, poets and activists rose up against the English, ultimately resulting in the execution of many of those involved and putting a marker down in Irish history. 

In January this year, I was invited by the always imaginative and ground breaking, Arts + Health Ireland, to take part in one of their events to mark the Easter Rising, and share the Manifesto for Arts & Health that so many of you took part in developing, here in the North West of England. Exploring its development and it’s relevance in the here and now - and with something of the spirit of this poets who drafted the Proclamation of the Republic in 1916 - we shared and explored our manifesto a bit more - and who knows - something very exciting might emerge from the streets of Ireland in the name of arts and health.

So, this edition of the blog shares some of the thinking behind that event in Dublin, providing the presentation I gave of a reflective paper, A Love Filled Slap in either film, full colour glossy words, or plain black and white text. There’s footage from the chair of the day, Pat Cooke and much more if you want it, by clicking here.

Meanwhile back in the UK, and not entirely disconnected, I had the pleasure of accompanying Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health in Oldham, to speak at an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting exploring devolution across Greater Manchester and the potential synergies between the arts and health - which I’d argue is, in and of itself, a social movement. Those eagle-eyed blog watchers will know that I’ve been advertising a PhD opportunity to be central to this agenda, not least to offer a timely critical eye - albeit from an artists perspective. As soon as I have news to report on this, I will. For now though, I am convinced that if devolution is happening (and it is happening), we should be part of it - questioning, provoking, exciting and contributing to social change. 

Let’s keep our eye on the political ball too, as I for one am deeply concerned about the further £3.5b savings announced in the budget for government departmental cuts! The impact on local authorities and inevitable consequences for culture and the arts, are something we should be ready to counter. It was unsurprising that in the APPG on devolution that I spoke at, that research reared its head. We weren’t there to talk about research or evaluation, and yet the same old blinkered arguments will be peddled time and again. ‘Where’s the evidence?’ - and yes, its the same old RCT gibberish, obsessed with pathology and hard scientific fact and the Cochrane Library! But give us a break - we were discussing public health and the social determinants of health and inequalities - yes we need to talk about evidence (which there are bags of) but at the appropriate time and critically, in the language of cultural value, not just pseudo-scientific gibberish.

From an altogether different point of view, but arguably from a global health perspective, John Pilger throws down the gauntlet to us, that is entirely connected to both the Easter Rising and perhaps re-imagining what we might consider ‘evidence’ of impact:

‘What has happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where is the courage, imagination and commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theatre, literature?’  

This blog will be silent for one week as your blogger escapes to the wilderness, so no April fool this year. That said, there's a new fool on the block in this arts health  field, who doesn't just talk rot one day a year, but 365 days a year (and in a leap year 366).