London’s largest Creativity and Wellbeing Festival returns
- Singing, dancing and drawing your way to health in London this week
- The UK’s largest Creativity and Wellbeing Festival June 10- 14 June 2019
London Arts in Health Forum and The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance have today announced that ‘Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2019’ will, for the first time, be a national event reaching more people than ever before.
Now in its eighth year, Creativity and Wellbeing week (10-14 June 2019), involves over 500 creative projects taking place across the UK to support people to realise how the arts and creativity can improve health and wellbeing. This year’s week is being supported by Thrive LDN – a citywide movement to ensure all Londoners have an equal opportunity to good mental health.
Research demonstrates that even a brief amount of time spent on a creative pastime such as painting, pottery or playing the piano, has a positive effect on wellbeing and emotions.1The arts can help to keep well, improve health outcomes and live longer, higher quality lives.
The health impact
Research shows that after engaging with the arts, 79% of people in deprived communities ate more healthily, 77% engaged in more physical activity and 82% enjoyed greater wellbeing.2
Mental health problems in the under-65s account for nearly half of NHS diagnoses: arts engagement at work and in leisure time can address work-related anxiety, depression and stress.3
The arts can support recovery from illness and long-term conditions. Listening to music after a stroke speeds recovery and lifts mood, dancing and group singing enhances cognition, communication and physical functioning in people with Parkinson’s and singing alleviates chronic respiratory conditions and cystic fibrosis. Furthermore, engagement in the arts plays a role in diminishing the physical and emotional effects of heart disease and cancer. 3
Director of LAHF, Jenni Regan, commented “What we’re finding is that although the arts can be used to respond to specific healthcare needs, we’re also seeing tangible health benefits of visiting museums and libraries, singing with a choir, and reading aloud. Before reaching crisis point, people can engage with their local services to prevent ill-health and improve their quality of life. The Health Secretary has recently announced investment towards social prescribing schemes.”
Cllr Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, Co-Lead of Thrive LDN, said: “I’m delighted that Thrive LDN have joined the fantastic partnership leading on Creativity and Wellbeing Week. Engagement in arts, cultural and creative activities has a positive effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing. This week is a great opportunity to promote that fact and encourage more people to take part in regular arts, cultural and creative activities, to take us one step closer to London being the happiest, healthiest city in the world.”
Some of the projects taking place during the week include:
- London Bubble Theatre based in Southwark: Making theatre, devising a play or exploring stories, characters and situations to benefit social and emotional wellbeing. The ‘Creative Elders’ project involves a series of installations, performances and exhibitions created by older adults in sheltered housing units. The team will also be in schools working with vulnerable year 6 students on their ‘Playing Safe’ project around youth violence and feeling safe in the community and at home.
- Move Dance Feel Weekly dance sessions for women affected by cancer, including those who are supporting someone with cancer. People are referred to the programme either through the centres that programme Move Dance Feel or via self referral. Sometimes medical professionals inform patients about the project and encourage them to take part e.g. clinical nurse specialists, physiotherapists, oncologists. Move Dance Feel enhances participant wellbeing, alleviates feelings of stress and anxiety, improves body confidence and reduces levels of fatigue. In an all female environment this has led to empowering outcomes.
- Make and Create’ in Walthamstow: a GP who runs craft sessions to promote better mental health. The sessions are designed as ‘meditation for the hands’ and involve making craft such as wall hangings, hexagon jewellery. They promote self confidence and help to alleviate anxiety and negative thinking. Anyone can do it!
- Melodies for Mums Breathe runs a project where women with post-natal depression take part in regular singing with babies. This is free, the music is culturally diverse and results show taking part can lead to a 41% reduction in symptoms of PND. This organisation also runs project using magic to support children with physical health problems
Art as medicine
Social prescribing of art-based activities reduces the over subscription of drugs and can lead to the same or better outcomes without as much medicine, with cost savings to the NHS. A recent ‘art on prescription’ project has shown a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and 27% reduction in hospital admission, saving the NHS £216 per patient. 3
Using the arts to prevent and treat ill health is becoming a viable treatment option for healthcare professionals. Social Prescribing is currently being championed by both the Department of Health and NHS England in its Long-Term Plan.
Victoria Hume, Director, Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance commented: “This is a massive opportunity to celebrate the range and depth of ground breaking work happening across the whole country – work that is building a new idea of what a really healthy society looks like: one that has creativity, community and the imagination at its heart.”
The role of arts in older adulthood
Arts can play a key role in fostering healthy ageing and staving off frailty. Arts engagement can diminish anxiety, depression and stress, social isolation and increase self- esteem, confidence and purpose. 4
The arts can help meet the major health challenge of dementias, which affect approximately 850,000 older people (and predicted to reach 2 million by 2051) and currently cost the UK £26.3 billion annually, for example: by boosting brain function and memory recall and by enhancing quality of life for those with dementia and their carers. Furthermore, music therapy has been shown to reduce agitation and need for medication in 67% of people with dementia.
There are over 500 creative projects taking place throughout Creativity and Wellbeing Week designed to engage all ages to participate in a creative activity.
This year Creativity and Wellbeing Week is taking place across the country with events lined up including local festivals in Norfolk, Brighton, Coventry and Newcastle where people can take part in workshops, talks, exhibitions and even online.
LAHF events taking place throughout Creativity and Wellbeing Week include:
- Creative Health Conference, 10 June, The Southbank Centre, London
- Connect 2019, Paintings in Hospitals, 11 June at The Menier Gallery, 51 Southwark Street, London
- Artists Practising Well: Support for creative practitioners, 13 June, One Hoe Street, London, E17
- Making it Mainstream: Creativity & Wellbeing in the Media, 14 June, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London
For more information and full details of activities taking place during the week, please visit: www.creativityandwellbeing.org.uk