Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, opens The Art of Being Healthy and Well Symposium on 22 June 2022.

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, jointly affirmed their recognition of the health and wellbeing benefits of creativity and arts at The Art of Being Healthy and Well on 22 June.

This national symposium was co-hosted by the all-of-government Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Health Service Executive and the Arts Council at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin. Policy-makers and practitioners from the health, arts and culture sectors considered how best to harness the powerful contribution creative engagement can make to our health and wellbeing. The full symposium recording is now available to view here.

In opening the symposium, Minister Martin recognised the long and rich history of collaboration between the arts and healthcare sectors, and emphasised the need to create a more supportive and sustainable environment through greater collaboration and integration between the sectors:

‘We are fortunate to have an extensive nationwide human infrastructure – embedded in both culture and health sectors – tasked with supporting the wellbeing of Irish people. I will be interested to see whether encouraging these networks to collaborate locally can add value to our respective wellbeing ambitions.’

Minister Martin announced pilot funding, through the Creative Ireland Programme, to explore closer collaboration between local arts and health sectors in the area of social prescribing. The initiative will assist GPs and other health practitioners to refer people to local arts and creative initiatives in five pilot locations in Waterford, Dublin, Donegal and Mayo where this would be beneficial for their wellbeing.

The Art of Being Healthy and Well: Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, and panelists Prof. Rose Anne Kenny, Dr Michael O'Connor, Nathalie Weadick, and Eilísh Hardiman.

Minister Donnelly referenced the World Health Organisation 2019 report on the evidence base for arts and health interventions noting:

‘The holistic nature of these types of artistic and cultural activities fits perfectly with our vision for health and wellbeing. Health is not just about the absence of disease, it is about recognising the importance and interconnectedness of physical, mental and social wellbeing.’

A series of panel discussions moderated by journalist and current affairs presenter, Olivia O’Leary, explored the role of creativity in people’s health.

The first panel, The case for improving health through arts and creativity, reflected on the evidence base, how it can underpin policy, and emerging trends nationally and internationally, with contributors Alexandra Coulter (Director, National Centre for Creative Health UK), Tom James (Head of Healthy Ireland, Department of Health) and Tania Banotti (Director, Creative Ireland Programme).

The second panel, Integrating medicine with arts and creativity, focused on hospital settings with perspectives from Professor Rose Anne Kenny (Chair of Medical Gerontology Trinity College Dublin and Director of MISA), Dr Michael O’Connor (National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead Acute Operations, HSE), Nathalie Weadick (Director, Irish Architecture Foundation), and Eilísh Hardiman (CEO, Children’s Health Ireland).

The Art of Being Healthy and Well: Olivia O'Leary, Maureen Kennelly, Justine Foster, Yvonne O’Neill

The third panel, Arts and creativity as a strategy for community wellbeing, explored the community setting perspective with Maureen Kennelly (Director, Arts Council), Justine Foster (Programme Manager, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre) and Yvonne O’Neill (National Director of Community Operations, HSE).

Two videos showcasing storytelling in the paediatrics ward of University Hospital Waterford, led by Waterford Healing Arts Trust, and the Musicians on Call programme with residents of St Camillus Nursing Home in Limerick, led by Kids Classics, provided examples of the types of creative engagement that support the delivery of acute and community healthcare in Ireland.

Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the HSE said:

‘I am delighted to see the ongoing and new arts and health projects being showcased today that are being delivered across the health service. Health service staff, attending both in person and virtually, will benefit from today’s event, building their knowledge in this area and creating more opportunities and awareness as we continue to utilise creative arts to benefit the wellbeing of service users and staff.’

Maureen Kennelly, Director, Arts Council said:

‘As the range of projects and discussion highlights, engagement and participation in the arts can make a significant contribution to our health and wellbeing. The Arts Council also sees the opportunities that this area of work presents for the many artists and arts organisations working in the area of Arts & Health, and values the important contribution of health sector colleagues, health service users, carers, friends and volunteers to the development and vibrancy of the arts in Ireland. We are committed to working with our colleagues at a national level to support the strategic development of this area into the future.’

Updated 3 July 2022 to include the full conference recording.


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