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History of AHSW

November 2003 a Feasibility Study commissioned by Arts Council England South West (ACESW)  from arts in health consultants Willis Newson Ltd. identified a clear need and demand for a forum which would bring people together across the arts and health sector to share news, information, learning, good ideas and good practice. 

A steering group was formed, under the title South West Arts and Health Forum, which represented various aspects of the arts and health sector: Arts Co-ordinators working for Acute Trusts, community based arts and health organisations, people working in the medical humanities, Local Authorities, the arts therapies, and arts organisations.

Gabriel Scally, Regional Director of Public Health at Government Office South West accepted the role of Honorary Chair of the forum.

March 2005 A strategic plan was produced by Willis Newson Ltd.

March 2005 ACESW Grant for the Arts awarded for research into the arts and health sector in the region and for an interim Co-ordinator to establish the forum.

April 2005 Registered as a company limited by guarantee. Certain members of the steering group became the founding Company Directors, later to become Trustees.

May 2005 Ruth Hecht was commissioned to undertake an audit and analysis of arts and health activity across the region.

September 2005 Research complete - Shared Territories published - a detailed breakdown of who is working in arts and health in the South West; what work is taking place, where and why; how the work is funded; people’s aspirations and needs; and the key issues which face the sector.

October 2005 Ruth Hecht appointed as interim Co-ordinator to put in place all the necessary structures and funding to establish the organisation.

November 2005 Forum formally renamed Arts & Health South West and new Memorandum and Articles of Association adopted.

January 2006 ACESW Grant for the Arts awarded for 3 years’ funding towards the running costs of the organisation.

April 2006 Web site went live & membership drive launched.

May 2006 Part time freelance Co-ordinator appointed.

July 2006 AHSW became a Registered Charity (no: 1115339)

How AHSW is funded

March 2005 – ACESWawarded £21,000 Grant for the Arts to South West Arts and Health Forum for research into the arts and health sector in the region and for an interim Co-ordinator to establish the Forum

In 2005 the following organisations became founder members by giving a financial contribution to what was then the South West Arts and Health Forum:

  • Art for Life, Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
  • Arts for Health Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Arts in Hospital, Dorset County Hospital 
  • Bournemouth Borough Council 
  • Devon and Cornwall Regional Group Art Therapists 
  • Dorset County Council (Patron member)
  • Exeter City Council
  • Exeter Healthcare Arts
  • Insider Art
  • Self Heal Association (Patron member)
  • South Somerset PCT (Patron member) 
  • Willis Newson

January 2006 ACESW Grant for the Arts - £78,000 - awarded for 3 years’ funding towards the running costs of the organisation.

February 2007 Awards for All - £5000 – awarded for development of web site.

Budget 2006 – 2009
The 3-year budget for AHSW was £145,000 of which approximately

  • 55% was from the Arts Council
  • 25% was from membership fees 
  • 20% was from other sources such as Charitable Trusts

In March 2010 ACESW Grants for the Arts - £60,000 - awarded for 3 year's funding towards the running costs of the organisation The funding was awarded to deliver AHSW’s 2011-2013 Business Plan.

To read AHSW’s 2011-2013 Business Plan click here.

In June 2010 AHSW appointed their first Director, Alex Coulter, on a 2 day a week contract.

In October 2010 AHSW appointed a new Coodinator, Jackie Henville on a 3 day a week contract.

In February 2011 NHS South West awarded £24,000 towards core funding for AHSW for the year 2011-12.

In March 2011 AHSW became an Arts Council National Portfolio organisation with a budget of £120,000 for three years – 2012 – 2015. The business plan for 2012-15 will be agreed with the Arts Council during the autumn of 2011 and available on this website in early 2012. Broadly speaking it will include a commitment to:

  • Support existing, or the development of new, arts, health and wellbeing networks at local authority level to encourage a 2 way flow of information between local and regional levels
  • Work with partner organisations in the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing to deliver an international conference in Bristol in 2013
  • Employ a part-time freelance research coordinator to support good practice in evaluation, help develop access to available arts and health research and evidence, and identify gaps in the evidence base.

Arts & Health South West was funded as a National Portfolio Organisation 2015-18.

In June 2017 Arts & Health South West ran its second 3-day Culture Health and Wellbeing International Conference at City Hall and Watershed, in Bristol UK. 

In August 2017 Arts & Health South West became a Kaleider Resident.

In April 2018 AHSW is currently being funded by Arts Council England as an NPO organisation from 2018-22.  


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