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 thoughts and reflections for May 2021

This month, we are all up to the eyeballs in international conference work. Lady Nade will be performing live for us on the evening of June 21st, from her soon to be released album, Willing. I love the song Complicated so am going to ask her for a special request! I became aware of Lady Nade’s arts and health work from the photograph at the beginning of Chapter 6 in the Creative Health report, where she is singing for a child in Southmead Hospital in Bristol. She has often performed with Professor John Middleton in his alter ego as Dr Harp. John Middleton is President of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region. He has written a blog for us on The Art of Health John will be part of a panel on European Policy at the International Conference, on Tuesday 22nd June.

On Tuesday morning, Sokerissa Dance will perform live from Tokyo. I was introduced to Sokerissa by Matt Peacock, who founded Streetwise Opera and then went on to lead With One Voice, which is now Arts and Homelessness International. Sokerissa is led by the inspirational dancer and choreographer, Yuuki Aoki. Since 2005, he has been bringing together people who live on the street to dance, with the help of The Big Issue. The word “sokerissa” comes from the Japanese “sore ike!”, meaning “step forward”. The choreography comes from the words and memories of the individual dancers. I feel a personal connection to this work through my daughter, Rosa, who has spent many years researching and writing about Hijikata Tatsumi, one of the founders of Butoh. Yuuki says that Sokerissa use Butoh techniques of expression and improvisation. If all goes to plan, they will be performing in the wonderful and evocative Denchu Hirakushi House and Atelier.

The conference will end on Wednesday 23rd June with a keynote by Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health Lead for the World Health Organisation. He has been working with CultureRunners on The Future is Unwritten, which aims to engage the international arts community in the most critical sustainability challenges of our time, including the Healing Arts Initiative to raise funds for artist-led responses to the mental health impact of COVID-19. Christopher will join our final plenary debate on Hopes for the Future, the unwritten future which we can all help shape.

The full programme for our upcoming CHW21 international conference is now available! A ticket will give you full access to the live programme from 21st-23rd June and to recordings of sessions on demand until 25th June.

Tickets are available until midnight on 7th June 2021. BOOK HERE >>

Cap O’Rushes Premiere 

We’re excited to announce that a  new commission by AHSW will premiere as the opening event for the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference on 21st June 2021. We have commissioned British award winning Composer, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, to create a new score and work with inclusive ensembles in Portugal and the UK to bring her composition to life.

Based on the story of Cap O’Rushes a rare version of a folktale from Suffolk, three inclusive ensembles Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s BSO Resound, Ensemble Juvenil de Setubal, and Headspace Ensemble have each performed and filmed part of the composition. Woven together with dance and film footage from UNIT, the premiered composition will provide an extraordinary audio and visual reflection of an uplifting story of a daughter’s journey to reunite her family.

Filmed individually, and in line with current Coronavirus restrictions in each location, ensembles have been connecting remotely. Offering a space for collaboration and creative practice, the project showcases the impact inclusive music making can have even within the most challenging of times. This production has been made possible with support by Stichting Horizon.

National News 

It was recently Mental Health Awareness Week and Arts Council England’s blog by John McMahon explored how nature and creativity, together, can support our mental health and wellbeing. This week is Creativity and Wellbeing Week (17-23rd May). There are hundreds of events and activities listed across the country, with 53 in the south west region alone. London has pipped us to the post with 83!

Other AHSW Activities 

A space has become available on our virtual AHSW Spring Action Learning Set, starting on 27 May 2021. During these challenging times, our Action Learning participants have really appreciated the opportunity to share their experiences.  Action Learning is a method of group coaching which involves questioning, listening to self and others and taking action on real issues that are inhibiting progress. A group of 6 individuals agrees to meet 6 times, for a half day, online. During this time participants establish a peer group they can trust and develop greater insight into managing difficult people and situations. Deadline for expression of interest: Midnight, 23rd May 2021

In other news, we will soon be advertising for a new Chair. Our wonderful Chair, Sue Isherwood, has to stand down in November, after 10 years at the helm. She joined us not long after I became Director in 2010. I will save my reflections on the last decade and thoughts for the future for the next Blog, which will be late in June after the international conference is over.

I hope to see you there!

Keep well,



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