About Arts and Health East

Hospitals and other care settings that pay close attention to the overall physical environment for patients achieve real improvements in the health of patients. […] Access and participation in the arts are an essential part of our everyday wellbeing and quality of life. – Secretary of State for Health: September 2008.

The arts are and should be firmly recognised as being integral to health, healthcare provision and healthcare environments. – DoH, March 2007.

There is plenty of research to show that the arts can help improve wellbeing. The arts can offer an alternative or an addition to standard treatments for people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build wellbeing, and can also help people recovering from ill health, and with the management of their condition.

Increasingly, there is an understanding that participation in the arts and access to a range of arts opportunities can dramatically improve health outcomes and increase wellbeing. Now the field of arts and health takes in all aspects of health, social care, community activities and public health alongside the role the arts can play in improving the healing environment. At the same time, the full breadth of the arts is being used in health and care including visual arts, dance, theatre, music and film and the moving image.

There are four main areas of Arts in Health Work:

There is a current surge to promote cohesion and sharing of good practice within the Arts in Health Sector across the whole of the UK, and recent recognition from the Department of Health, DCMS and Arts Council supports the development of the sector. As the Secretary of State for Health stated last Autumn:

“Arts and Health East is a loose collaboration between practitioners, artists and organisations working in the East of England to promote the use of the arts for health and wellbeing. Arts and Health East aims to offer a portal of information and links for healthcare, community and third sector organisations, arts practitioners and therapists to gain information on what is out there, to source and share research and put people in touch with one another to support innovative emerging practice.”

Arts and Health East is not a formal organisation with a staff or resources. However, those working in the area of arts and health in East Anglia are working together to encourage the use of the arts as a tool to improve wellbeing. To this end the organisation is looking to build a database of supporters from within the region and is working with partners from across the country to encourage a strategic approach to arts and health. In future, we hope to be able to offer networking events and training opportunities for those with an interest in arts and health in the East of England.