Thursday, 15 March 2018

...enter the void

This last week I have had the great pleasure of being the guest of the artist, Professor Yutaka Moriguchi in the Department of Cultural Design at Kindai University in Osaka. It’s been my first visit to Japan and not without some deep fascination at a culture so rich in tradition - quite alien to my own - I have been quite hypnotised. With the generous support of The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation we are establishing an exchange programme between Japanese and UK art and design undergraduates exploring health and wellbeing, alongside the preparation of a large-scale research programme between the two countries. I have been very honoured to be invited to be part of this work and will be reporting back on the Arts for Health website in due course. Thank you to all of you who made my time in Japan so rich, and your generous hospitality.

Whilst I’ve been away, the formal launch of the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance took place in Birmingham. This alliance brings together the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing with the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing and involves 50 leading organisations. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is a new national English organisation that will advocate for the work, provide training, resources and events, and develop understanding of how participating in cultural activities can help individual and community health and wellbeing.

As a free membership organisation it will work closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing to bring about a step change in policy and delivery and aims to focus on a strong regional infrastructure to support development and progress in the field. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is an Arts Council Sector Support Organisation, joining the National Portfolio of Organisations. To find out more about this work (and apply for the director position) please click on the new logo above. For those of you already engaged in the North West Arts & Health Network, please note that the new alliance aims to complement and support our agenda.

As the arts and health landscape evolves and grows in the UK, things in Finland are changing too, but then, the Finns have been doing extraordinary work in the field for years. It seems like only yesterday that I welcomed both Kirsi Lajunen and her colleagues from Arts Promotion Centre Finland, alongside Yutaka Moriguchi and a contingent of fifteen people from Japan, and my friends Ieva Petkute and Simona Karpavicute from Lithuania- all to to be part of 2020+ one of our free North West Arts and Health events. Subsequently Dr Kat Taylor was awarded a Churchill Travelling Fellowship and has spent some serious time in Finland exploring the arts and mental health, and you can read about some of her extraordinary work on her blog HERE.

Director of LIME Arts Dawn Prescott will be guest of Kirsi Lajunen speaking at an event about her work in healthcare environments at the Hospital of Espoo in Finland very shortly, and of course, as reported previously the connections between Arthur & Martha and their collaborative project with Ieva and Simona, exploring homelessness and called Sing Me to Sleep remains one of the most profound examples of social arts practice I’ve experienced, particularly as this work culminated in two exhibitions and people affected by homelessness travelling between Lithuania and the UK. So too, we’ve seen Julie McCarthy from 42nd Street and Stuart Webster from BlueSCI sharing their practice in Vilnius. Unexpected and surprising relationships form from these free events, some local, some international, but all exploring the fruitful possibilities of collaboration, learning and human exchange.

The heart of arts, culture and well-being in Finland
Taikusydän is a multisectoral coordination and communication center for activities and research among the broad field of arts, culture and well-being. Its aim is to make arts and culture a permanent part of well-being services.

Taikusydän encourages different actors to cooperate with each other. It launches a researchers´ network, joining together research in universities and other institutes. Taikusydän promotes proposals for actions suggested in the closing report of the national Art and Culture for Well-being programme 2010–2014. Over recent years, there has been increasing recognition that arts and culture have an important part to play in improving the health and wellbeing of people. Several studies have shown that experiencing the arts and culture may increase a sense of wellbeing and transform the quality of life for both individuals and communities. The unique role of the arts promoting, for example, social welfare, community engagement, participation in civic life, and improving living environments has been acknowledged. Research evidence has been gained to show the effectiveness of arts interventions in hospitals and other healthcare settings. By supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health and welfare of people who experience mental or physical health problems. To find out much more, click on the wonderful image above.

As a young chap, I undertook a night class in my home town of Lancaster, and got an A-Level in sociology. It was quite revelatory for me, to insert some academic discipline into my otherwise empty head. This was where I was first introduced to sage figures like Durkheim (suicide) and the experiments of Rosenhan (THUD) that would go on an influence my thinking around what I do today. An essay I wrote at the time, was concerned with the British pub - not as some boozed up sleaze pit - but as the last bastion of working class community cohesion. 

Seems old hat now I’m sure, but as the gentrification of pubs, cafes and accommodation seems to move apace, wouldn’t it be a good idea to do something different in one of these dying places? Might people in a community whose pub is dying a slow death, reimagine one of these places, by doing something profound - and beyond my limited imagination. But does it need to be beer on tap, or something altogether more novel - some social glue.

Funding for communities to purchase their local pub (England)
Communities in England looking to take responsibility for and ownership of their local pub, through purchase or long-term lease can now apply for financial support through the Community Pub Business Support Programme. A total of £3.62 million is available over two years and the support package includes business development support, advice and loan and grant funding. The financial support includes flexible bursary awards of up to £2,500 to fund pre-feasibility costs such as public consultation and valuations and combined loan and grant funding up to £100,000. The programme has been extended and is now open for applications until the end of March 2019. Read more by clicking on Bet or Rita below. 

Manchester Museum appoints Esme Ward as its Director
Esme Ward, who is currently the Head of Learning & Engagement at Manchester Museum and the Whitworth, said: “I am thrilled to be appointed the new Director of Manchester Museum. The vision to use its collections to promote understanding between cultures and a sustainable world could not be more timely or relevant.”
Esme will take up her new role at the Museum, the largest of its kind in the UK, on Monday 9 April, succeeding Nick Merriman. She says her career has been driven by a social purpose and longstanding commitment to make museums even more inclusive and relevant to a wider audience. These range from babies to people living with dementia.

It is something Esme wants to explore even further in her new role, adding: “I am hugely excited to lead the Museum at this critical time, build upon its excellent work to date and realise its potential as the UK’s most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum.”

Esme joined the Whitworth as its Education Officer in 1998 before becoming Head of Learning & Engagement across the Whitworth and Manchester Museum in 2010. In recent years she also worked alongside Maria Balshaw to transform the Whitworth and help it win Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015. Esme also recently completed a year-long Clore Cultural Leadership Fellowship, including a placement with the Heritage Lottery Fund. Read more HERE.

I extend my personal congratulations to Esme who I am thrilled to be working with co-curating the arts/health strands of the World Healthcare Congress - 2019. She is a great asset to Greater Manchester and the UK’s heritage and cultural sectors and has some strong values that we should all aspire to share. Superb news.
Arts Council England announces new £14.4 million fund to cultivate individual talent
ACE has launched Developing your Creative Practice, a new £14.4m fund specifically designed to support independent creative practitioners. The programme is unlike any other current Arts Council fund, because it will give practitioners time to work on ambitious and innovative projects, without the immediate pressure of showing their work publicly. Recipients will be able to use the funding to support periods of research, to develop new work and ideas, work internationally, and for training, networking or mentoring.

£3.6 million will be available annually for four years for Developing your Creative Practice. Applicants will be able to apply for grants from £2, 000 to £10,000 from 12 April 2018. Application guidance will be published on Tuesday 13 March, more information is available HERE.

Grants of up to £10,000 for projects helping disadvantaged & neglected children 
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
Behavioural or psychological difficulties
Poverty and deprivation.
The closing date for applications is the 13th May 2018. Read more HERE.

Funding for library innovators re-opens for applications

The Carnegie UK Trust has launched the third funding round of the ‘Carnegie Library Lab' programme. The Library Lab programme is designed to support and develop innovation and leadership in the public library sector across the UK and Ireland. The Trust are looking for applications from individual library staff working in early and mid-management roles across the UK and Ireland. Successful applicants will work with the Trust as Carnegie Partners for 18 months (June 2018 and September 2019). Carnegie Library Lab offers participants financial support of between £5,000 and £15,000 for participants to:
Develop and deliver an innovative, practical project in their local library service
Exclusive access to a bespoke online learning programme to support innovation, leadership and skills development
Access to an external mentor to assist with project management and personal development
Networking events including face-to-face meetings and online platform
An external evaluation.
The closing date for applications is 5pm on the 5th April 2018. Read more HERE.  

...foot note! Whilst I'm away I see Doddy has died!! The man did five hour shows in his 80's for goodness sakes. Just to think, I was going to ask him to be a special guest speaker at the Arts and Health Suitcase/Exchange & Mart on 19th April. Hey Ho.


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