Read below for our history from 2003 to the present day:


November: 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.


March: A strategic plan was produced by Willis Newson Ltd. ACESW awarded a £21,000 grant to the 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

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

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

September: The Shared Territories report was published

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

November: The forum was formally renamed Arts & Health South West and new Memorandum and Articles of Association adopted.(PDF saved in folder as 1A Memorandum and Articles)


January: ACESW Grant for the Arts was awarded for 3 years’ funding towards the running costs.

April: Web site went live & membership drive launched.

May: Part time freelance Co-ordinator appointed.

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


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


March: ACESW Grants for the Arts of £60,000 was awarded towards the running costs for 3 years.

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

October: AHSW appointed a new Coordinator, Jackie Henville, on a 3 day a week contract.


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

March: AHSW became an Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation with a budget of £120,000 for three years: 2012 – 2015.

June: The Fine Family Foundation agreed to fund the AHSW Prize (£10,000 p.a).

September: Dementia and the Arts conference


March: Arts and Primary Care Conference; Culture, Health and Wellbeing Strategic Commissioning seminar

June: The inaugural AHSW Prize was awarded to: Berkeley Vale Health; Double Elephant Print Workshop; and Louisa Newman, Arts on Referral Manager, NHS Bristol.

November: Annual Conference: Patient and Participant Voice


June: Arts & Health South West ran the inaugural 3-day Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference.

The AHSW Prize was awarded to: Arts for Health Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; Creativity Works; and Rebecca Seymour, dance artist, and Jane Willis, Director of Willis Newson (joint individual prize).

November: Annual Conference: Creative Ageing and Arts and Health Research


AHSW’s Director begins role providing the secretariat and project management for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG).

March: AHSW was funded as a National Portfolio Organisation 2015-18.

November: Annual Conference

2014-15: AHSW delivered the Somerford Wellbeing Project with young people to explore wellbeing. A film was made by young people from Somerford in Christchurch, Dorset, facilitated by film makers Matt Gillett and Angie Belcher from Bad Chicken Productions and supported by Christchurch Activities for Young People (CAYP). Funded by Dorset County Council.


June: AHSW Prize was awarded to: Plymouth Music Zone; Coda Music Trust; and Viv Gordon, Director of Mean Feet Dance.

November: Annual Conference

2015-16: AHSW delivered Music for a While, a project with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to provide music for people with dementia in 3 hospitals in Wessex. The University of Winchester conducted a research project at Winchester Hospital. Funded by the Wessex Academic Health Science Network and Awards for All.


June: The AHSW Prize was awarded to: ForMed Films CIC; Independent Arts; and Jayne Howard, Director of Arts for Health Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

August: AHSW awarded funding from ACE Catalyst Evolve programme to support fundraising and development.

November: Annual Conference

2016-2018: AHSW was the lead for ‘Alternative Visions: Undiscovered Art in the South West’, a partnership project with Outside In and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery to deliver a touring exhibition of work by people who feel excluded from the mainstream art world. Funded by ACE Strategic Touring Funds and participating venues: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Falmouth Art Gallery, Poole Museum and The Wilson, Cheltenham.

2016-2019: AHSW was a partner in the Art & Social Change project withPortraits of Recovery (UK) and partners in Germany, Italy and Lithuania, to develop arts-based training tools to support the wellbeing of healthcare workers and people in addiction and recovery. Funded by EU Erasmus Plus.


June: AHSW ran the second 3-day Culture Health and Wellbeing International Conference, with over 400 delegates and speakers from 23 countries.

July: the APPG published the Creative Health report at the end of a two year inquiry, for which AHSW provided the secretariat.

July: AHSW was awarded Arts Council England NPO funding for 2018-22; AHSW was the lead organisation for a successful application to Arts Council England for a new Sector Support Organisation, the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

August: AHSW became a Kaleider Resident.

November: Annual Conference: Social Prescribing


March: the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance launched. AHSW has governance responsibility for the organisation.

2018– AHSW secures funding for the Community Connections Social Prescribing project in Weston-super-Mare in partnership with the For All Healthy Living Centre, Alliance Homes and Theatre Orchard. Evaluation Framework developed with the New Economics Foundation. Funded by the Tudor Trust and Arts Council England Catalyst Evolve match funding.

December: Annual Conference: Diversity and Inclusion

December: Participation for the first time in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, raised £12,000 in individual giving.


February: Completion of Art and Social Change Project, a three-year Erasmus Plus project that developed new training methods using the arts to prevent burnout for healthcare professionals working with people in recovery from substance use.

February: Collaborative Regional Strategy developed and framework provided for engagement by stakeholders across the region.

March: Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) first national conference held in Newcastle, supported by AHSW.

March: Residential AHSW Spring School supported by The Fine Family Foundation – focused on young people’s mental health and storytelling.

April: New AHSW website launched

November: AHSW Annual Conference – ‘Creativity at the Heart of Human Flourishing’ – focused on mental health and lived experience of mental health issues.

December: Participation in the Big Give Christmas Challenge for the 2nd year running, raised £8,224 in individual giving for our AHSW Campaign ‘Connecting Through Creativity: Tackling Loneliness’.

Continued secretariat and project management to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG AHW)

Pilot of a 2-year facilitated Action Learning Set programme in Dorchester and in Bristol – Action Learning Sets is a method of group coaching which involves questioning, listening to self and others and taking action on real issues that are inhibiting progress.

Arts & Health South West became a signatory to the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health.


March: Residential AHSW Spring School Spring – focused on adult mental health and making new meaning of illness.

April – December: Presented over 17 webinars during this period which have attracted a total YouTube audience of well over 3000 on top of the considerable live audiences.

June: Commissioned and piloted a photography resource pack with Look Again Mindfulness Photography for Wellbeing and made available for free during lockdown.

July: The development of the National Centre for Creative Health, the first recommendation of the APPG’s influential 2017 report Creative Health. AHSW has governance responsibility for the organisation until July 2021.

August: Plans started for third and final International Culture Health and Wellbeing Conference 2021

November: Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA), formally became a separate Community Interest Company, and AHSW governance responsibility for the organisation ceased.

November: Annual Conference – ‘Winter Gatherings’ – whole week of virtual national events and webinars coordinated with CHWA. This was a strong opportunity to network and to share stories from the pandemic.

December: Participation in the Big Give Christmas Challenge for the 3rd year running, raised £6,975 in individual giving for our AHSW Campaign ‘Flourishing Through Creativity: Mental Health’.

Final year of the Community Connections social prescribing project, in partnership with the For All Healthy Living Centre and Theatre Orchard, in Weston-super-Mare. The project is linked into national developments in social prescribing with the establishment of the National Academy of Social Prescribing, Primary Care Networks and the appointment of link workers in each locality.

Extension to National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding for the year 2022-23 as a result of the support by Arts Council England in response to the impact of the pandemic.

Continuation of Action Learning Set programmes via remote learning, for members based in Cornwall, Devon and Bristol.

Continued secretariat and project management to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG AHW)

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