Arts & Culture for Health & Wellbeing

Arts and Health Network Scotland, Cultural Strategy Submission:

Arts & Culture for Health & Wellbeing

Arts and Health in Scotland has a significant history and strong tradition with a number of longstanding organisations having developed across the geography of the country.  There is not however any national focus for the sector.  The Arts and Health Network Scotland is working to link these organisations and others, to promote best practice principles and campaign for strategic support at a national level.

The recently published UK Parliamentary report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing is the most comprehensive review and assessment of the Arts, Health and Wellbeing in the UK from a political perspective for a significant number of years. 

The Report clearly identifies the positive contribution that the arts make and argues for greater recognition and strategic planning to support its further development.  To achieve this, the Report calls for genuine political leadership at a very senior level and makes key recommendations for actions that are necessary to help the sector develop effectively.  The Arts and Health Network Scotland recognises that due to devolution the All Party Group recommendations are written specifically within an English context, but believe that they are equally applicable in Scotland and offer a model for a national strategy. 

The Network calls on the Scottish Government to break new ground with the Cultural Strategy by making a national commitment to Arts & Culture for Health & Wellbeing based on the following 4 key recommendations adapted from the All Party Group Report:


Arts and Health Network Scotland recommendations for Scotland:

1) We recommend that leaders from within the arts, health, arts and health, and social care sectors, together with service users and academics, establish a strategic centre, at national level, to support the advance of good practice, promote collaboration, coordinate and disseminate research and inform policy and delivery. We appeal to the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, NHS Scotland and philanthropic funders to support this endeavour.

2) We recommend that the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretaries for:  Culture Europe & External Affairs, Health & Sport, Education & Lifelong Learning, and Communities & Equalities develop and lead a cross-governmental strategy to support the delivery of health and wellbeing through the arts and culture.

3) We recommend that, at board and/or strategic level, in NHS Scotland, and each NHS Trust, Health & Social Care Integration Joint Board and Local Authority, an individual is designated to take responsibility for the pursuit of institutional policy for arts, health and wellbeing and ensure that arts and cultural organisations are involved in the delivery of health and wellbeing at regional and local level.

4) We recommend that Creative Scotland supports arts and cultural organisations in making health and wellbeing outcomes integral to their work and identifies health and wellbeing as a strategic priority.

Why the contribution is important

Cultural engagement is increasingly cited as a key component of the Health and Wellbeing of the nation and therefore must be recognised and supported within a national Cultural Strategy

Access for all is a common goal at every level of cultural planning. Inequality through health is a significant barrier to cultural access. 

Targeted Creative Engagement through participation in the arts, as delivered by organisations from the Arts and Health Network Scotland, address health inequality barriers to cultural access and ensure that this key component of personal Health and Wellbeing is achievable for those in greater need.

The Cultural Conversation is an ideal opportunity to bring this important contribution to the fore and place it clearly within Scotland's Cultural Strategy for the future.

by CKelly on November 13, 2017 at 11:10AM

Current Rating

Average score : 5.0
Based on : 4 votes


  • Posted by chrisfremantle November 13, 2017 at 18:11

    As part of the public art programme for the new NHS Ayrshire & Arran Woodland View Community and Acute Mental Health facility we published a series of articles on arts and mental health highlighting good practice and discussing the many facets of arts and health. These can be accessed
    Strategic institutional support as outlined above is critical to the further growth and development of arts and culture in health and social care. Art, design and architecture all contribute to health and well-being particularly when they involve users including patients, carers and staff.
  • Posted by RodMountain November 20, 2017 at 05:41

    I strongly support this well structured set of ideas!

    Creativity is our human asset that we need to value, nurture and use towards creative good within health and wellbeing.

    As an NHS surgeon, having worked in Scotland for 30 years, I now realise that the 'Drugs don't work' and that new operations won't fix healthcare.

    The future lies in Healthcare collaborating together with our 'Creative Industry' partners.
    Service Designers, the computer game industry and digital interactive expertise to name a few can introduce modern solutions to health and wellbeing.

    Our Scottish Chief Medical officer, Catherine Calderwood's 2016 report - 'Realistic Medicine' has introduce a long overdue Cultural challenge to doctors and has achieved global acclaim. Realistic Medicine can be realised for all our citizens through the 'Creative Industry' skill mix we have in our colleges and universities. Art and Design colleges, computer scientists and engineers can lead the way to a new health and care future!
  • Posted by DonnaBetts November 28, 2017 at 21:19

    It is heartening to see this national imperative placed on Arts & Culture for Health & Wellbeing facilitated by the Arts and Health Network Scotland, to promote best practice principles and campaign for strategic support. The emphasis on "access for all" and for support of "arts and cultural organisations in making health and wellbeing outcomes integral to their work" is particularly appreciated.

    I'm an art therapist with expertise in integrating art therapy informed approaches in community and museum settings, to enhance cultural identity/heritage, as well as Gaelic language revitalization. As the Immediate Past President of the American Art Therapy Association, and Associate Professor of Art Therapy at the George Washington University, I'm pleased to know of the increasing awareness of the vital role of the arts in health in the UK (as well as in North America).

    For information on art therapy in the UK:
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