Arts and Health Conference, October 2011
The Arts and Health Conference that took place in Stoke-on-Trent on 12 October was a great success. Over 100 delegates came along to the recently refurbished Mitchell Arts Centre in the city centre to a wonderful programme of workshops and discussions.
Michael Murray (Keele University) in opening the workshop identified three aims – to showcase some examples of ongoing arts and health work in the region, to provide an opportunity to meet and network with fellow arts and health workers, and to consider opportunities and challenges for the future.
Mike White (Durham University) gave the keynote address. He recalled that not that long ago you could have fitted the number of arts and health practitioners into a small room now you needed a theatre to host a regional event. In his address Mike gave a wonderful overview of the myriad arts and health activities that he has been involved in not only in England but internationally. A copy of his keynote is available here
This was followed by a choice of two discussion groups and two workshops. The first discussion group led by Kate Gant (Praxis) was on plans to develop a National Alliance for Arts and Health. She emphasised the need to build from the grassroots up rather than trying to impose a framework. This is a key issue and in the months and years ahead we will be exploring how to put this into practice both regionally and sub-regionally.
There was also an exciting discussion on the wide range of innovative work being conducted by the Walsall Creative Development Team. This included short films illustrating their work with taxi drivers, people from ethnic minorities and young people in care.
Complementing these two morning discussions there were two workshops – one by Soundworks, a joint collaboration between B-Arts and Letting in the Light, on the use of digital technologies to create soundscapes and the other by Loudmouth Theatre on the use of drama in schools and other settings.
After a delicious lunch provided by The Secret Kitchen, there was a further choice of two seminars and two workshops. The first discussion was on the use arts and social intervention for people with dementia which was presented by Memories in the Making. The second discussion was by Professor Susan Hogan from Derby University on the use of photography to explore representations of ageing.
The first afternoon workshop was by Arts for Health in Action which focused on the Escape Nuneaton Arts and Health programme. There was also a workshop by integrated dance company FRONTLINEdance about an older people’s dance and movement project. The involvement of a large group of older people in this workshop ensured this workshop was a success.
After a short coffee break there followed a choice between a seminar discussions on Commissioning Arts and Health work led by Janet Hetherington (Staffordshire University) and one on Art, Health and Community Neuro-rehabilitation led by Angela Young (North Staffs Combined Healthcare NHS). The final workshop session led by Jill Rezzano (New Vic Theatre) was based on the Ages and Stages project at Keele University.
After all this choice of workshops and discussions the delegates then participated in a panel discussion led by Mark Webster from Staffordshire University. The panel included Kate Gant (Praxis), Michael Murray (Keele University), Susan Purser-Hope (independent glass artist), Owen Hurcombe (Creative Remedies, Staffordshire County Council), Sarah Bond (Arts Council), Emma Yorke (South Staffs & Shropshire Healthcare NHS) and Mike White. This panel provoked lots of discussion on the way forward for arts and health.