AHSW's Director, Trustees, and Members reflect on various aspects of arts, health and wellbeing.

Director’s Monthly Reflection

AHSW Director Alex Coulter shares her monthly reflections, as well as AHSW news and sector updates for December 2021

Thank you to everyone who was involved in our annual conference, What Next for Sustainable Practice? We had some great speakers and panel discussions including lively and challenging conversations about social prescribing, training and workforce development. At our AGM we welcomed three wonderful new trustees. Ishani Kar-Purkayastha is a Public Health doctor and a writer, with a particular interest in Narrative Medicine. You can read an essay by Ishani in the Lancet: An Epidemic of Loneliness, winner of the Wakley prize. Sophie Cummings works for the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the Creative Industries team, helping manage the Creative Industries Cluster Programme. She was formerly a curator at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. Miranda Cunningham is a Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the Faculty of Health in the University of Plymouth and is Chair of the Board of Occupational Science Europe.

We also said goodbye to our longstanding Chair, Sue Isherwood and voted in our new Chair, Martin White. With such a strong and committed board I am very confident the organisation will go from strength to strength as we move into our next phase of development.

This next phase has a focus on Goal 1 of our regional strategy  with the aim to increase the capacity of arts and cultural practitioners and organisations to contribute to local and regional health and wellbeing priorities. Our Research Associate, Julia Puebla Fortier, is facilitating a Creative Health Learning Alliance across the region. We will explore the needs and experiences of practitioners, host learning and consultation meetings and move towards a consensus on definitions, activities, tools and guidelines to support practice development. Look out for a survey to capture information on practitioner needs in January.

Creativity and Wellbeing Week is from 16-22nd May 2022. It would be really good to see lots happening in the south west region and join forces in promoting it. The week is delivered by London Arts and Health in partnership with the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance and connects up with Get Creative to promote everyday creativity. Creative Lives (formerly Voluntary Arts) is one of the driving forces behind Get Creative and in 2022 the collaboration will include BBC local radio stations, including BBC Radio Devon. Creative Lives annual awards are open for voting until 22nd January. Rising Voices Wessex is on the shortlist. They run community choirs to support people whose lives have been affected by cancer and you can vote for them here.

We have just sent out our latest e-bulletin, with all the latest news, events, and opportunities in arts and health, our AHSW e-bulletin is a great way to make sure you are up-to-date with what is happening in the sector. Read it here If you want to receive future updates straight to your inbox, simply become a member of AHSW. As a charitable organisation, our membership is free! –

As we enjoy highlighting our AHSW Members projects and stories, it was great to hear about a project by AHSW Member George Harding – ‘The Painted Path’.  Thanks to Arts Council England funding, artist George Harding was able to undertake a research and development trip travelling around the South West Coastal Path and created 40 paintings outdoors along the way. Inspired by ‘The Salt Path’ a book by Raynor Winn, George has created an online exhibition of the works, as well as some short video clips from along the journey, find out more about the ‘The Painted Path’.

I hope you are all able to have some time with family and friends during the next few weeks and that 2022 is a good year, whatever that might mean in present circumstances.

Keep well,


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