IMPACT of arts on region’s health to be addressed as influential report says creativity can help save the health service money
Leaders from the North East's health, social care and arts sectors are considering how recommendations from a national report can be brought in to benefit the wellbeing of residents living in the region.
Creative Health follows a two-year inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
It contains strong evidence that creative and cultural activities can help tackle key public health challenges such as ageing, long-term conditions and mental health.
Alice Twaite, co-director of creative ageing charity Equal Arts, helped inform the inquiry for the North East.
She said: “Having worked in this field for more than 25 years, this is the strongest evidence base I’ve seen for how having access to creative activity can transform people’s lives and support both mental and physical health, which is particularly crucial with our ageing population.
“We hope to get a region-wide commitment to ensure arts and health sit together in the region’s policies and strategies going forward, not seen as an afterthought or ignored as a credible option.”
The inquiry gathered research and evidence from a wide-cross section of society including patients, artists and health professionals from across the UK.
It concludes that arts can keep people well, aid recovery and help save money in the health service and social care.
Lord Howarth of Newport, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, will speak at the event which had been organised by charity Equal Arts, Gateshead Council and Public Health England.
“The time has come to recognise the powerful contribution the arts can make to our health and wellbeing,” he said, adding: “This report sets out comprehensive evidence and numerous examples of practice which demonstrate the beneficial impact of the arts.
“We are calling for an informed and open-minded willingness to accept that the arts can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of the pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems.”
Anne Walton attends Creative Age, a group for people living with dementia and their carers, at Arts Centre Washington. Talking about the benefit of the group she said: “If someone had said to me that doing art could have an impact on somebody’s brain, I’m not certain I would have believed them. But I do know that it had an impact on my husband who had dementia. He could be quite flat but in the art group he brightened, and we enjoyed it together. It was just what we both needed. The quality of the artists leading the sessions was so important.”
Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health, Gateshead added: "Our wellbeing is vital to our health, to our sense of who we are and to our self-worth and effectiveness. The arts play a vital role in creating and supporting feelings of wellbeing. Exploring our creativity offers a myriad of ways to connect, move, give, learn and notice – the five ways to wellbeing."