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 news and sector updates as we welcome in a new year!

Happy New Year and I hope you had a good break. Festivities seem to have retreated into the mists of time rather quickly. At Arts & Health South West we have been reflecting on how we gather data from our members. We thought we’d try a new approach and ask a single question in each newsletter. We will then tell our members next month what the response was – how many people replied and what we found out.

We will use the answers to help us respond to our members needs and develop our plans for a regional Creative Health Learning Alliance. In February, we will be sending out a survey specifically about the Creative Health Learning Alliance and how it might support our members.

As a charitable organisation, our membership is free! So if you want to join in these conversations make sure you are signed up. As a AHSW member you will be automatically sent a monthly e-bulletin with all the latest news, events, and opportunities in arts and health. Sign-up here

I hope you will find time to watch some of the recordings from the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference (CHW21)

CHW21 was delivered online from 21st-23rd June 2021, and was attended by over 500 speakers and delegates from 30 countries. We know not everyone could attend the CHW21 conference. So, you can now catch up on all the recordings from the conference including keynotes, oral presentations and some workshops via our Youtube Channel.

Content is spilt according to the day!

21st June (Day 1) – INEQUALITY >>

22nd June (Day 2) – POWER >>

23rd June (Day 3) – SUSTAINABILITY  >>

Recently I re-watched the final panel discussion on Hopes for the Future. It gave me a renewed sense of purpose, energy and hope for the future… I recommend dipping into the recordings whenever you want to feel the collective energy from this truly amazing global movement.

In the last Blog I mentioned Creativity and Wellbeing Week which is from 16-22nd May. That may seem a long way away but the time will fly by, no doubt. We will be delivering a webinar and discussions connected to our learning programme and will use some of the information you send us in response to our monthly questions to inform our planning. At the international conference there were very lively discussions about practitioner support and professional development. Julia, our Research Associate, led a panel on “Feeling for the Edges” How creative facilitators negotiate practice boundaries, which explores how facilitators often navigate personal, professional and disciplinary boundaries in their work. Some of you joined us for a discussion on professional development at our annual conference in November. I hope you will join us in May to continue the conversations.

We will be exploring co-production in depth over the coming months and Hannah is working with our Advisory Group of people with lived experience to develop their involvement in AHSW’s work. At the international conference there was a session on Living Experience (content trigger warning) and one on Co-Production and Co-Creation. Some of you will know Viv Gordon, a Survivor, Artist and Activist, and Artistic Director of the Viv Gordon Company. She led a powerful session on ‘Do we help to sedate, or to activate? Arts, Health and Social Justice. 

Finally, do look out for our final CHW21 Evaluation Report, it will be released in our February E-bulletin!

Keep well,



A little extra New Year inspiration!

As we make our way out of the midst of the greatest public health crisis in living memory, many of us might be in need of some inspirational reading and so here are two books we highly recommend:

Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS by
Michael Rosen. Combining stunning new prose poems by one of Britain’s best loved poets and the moving coronavirus diaries of his nurses, this is an intensely powerful account of Micheal’s desperate struggle with Covid-19. A beautiful book about love, life, the power of community and a resounding tribute to the NHS and the human spirit. Features original illustrations by Chris Riddell.

Breathtaking by Dr Rachel Clarke. An unflinching insider’s account of medicine in the time of coronavirus. Drawing on testimony from nursing, acute and intensive care colleagues, as well as, crucially, her patients – Clarke argues that this age of contagion has inspired a profound attentiveness to and gratitude for what matters most in life.


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