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 October 2021

We hope to see lots of arts and health practitioners at our Annual Conference and AGM on 24th November – What Next for Sustainable Practice?

Martin White, Health and Wellbeing Programme Lead at the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, will speak about why data matters from a public health perspective. Data is also a key driver for investment by Arts Council England. In their Let’s Create delivery plan and the four investment principles: Ambition & Quality; Dynamism; Environmental Responsibility; and Inclusivity & Relevance, they encourage us to use data to underpin and develop our work. This includes data on inequalities and on diversity and inclusion. In the recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Creative Diversity, Creative Majority, the authors identify the need for organisations to monitor employee, workforce and freelance data and to set targets to deliver creative diversity.

At our Annual Conference, Cleo Lake, who was the first Green Party Lord Mayor of Bristol and is a Director of Black* Artists on the Move as well as a dance facilitator and social justice activist, will talk about the wider context of sustainable practice which is bound up with creative diversity and planet health. You will be able to take part in breakout sessions including one with the Art and Energy Collective, creators of the Moths to a Flame project for COP26, and join discussions about how we can collectively respond to the future needs of our sector in this rapidly developing field of creative health work.

At our What Next for Sustainable Practice? conference, we will reflect on learning from the CHW21 International Conference  and in particular the Sustainability theme. All delegates will be sent links to relevant keynotes, panels and oral sessions in advance. One of those keynotes was the Story Cloths programme with Common Threads. They support delivery of their therapeutic methodology in remote places so that women and children who have experienced gender-based violence can ‘stitch the unspeakable’. Hearing from speakers in Nepal and Columbia was very moving and inspiring, highlighting one of the great advantages of the digital format.

The international connections continue to develop. I recently spoke at the closing ceremony of the Arts in Medicine Fellowship 2021 Summer Global cohort, a programme led by Kunle Adewale. At CHW21, Kunle gave a keynote on Nigeria’s Sustainability Model for Arts in Medicine Programs in Developing Countries. We can learn a lot from the way they are approaching sustainable practice in a very different political and social context. Dr Daisy Fancourt, who was part of the CHW21 committee and, as many of you will know, is a leading researcher in this country, is now Director of a new WHO Collaborating Centre for Arts & Health. The Centre was launched at the celebratory event for the MARCH Network, at the end of three years of research and networking on community assets and mental health. Lots of resources and research findings will be emerging from this very dynamic and extensive network on a new website which is being launched:

In the run up to 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Ishani KarPurkayastha from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (South West England) wants to connect with practitioners in the Arts & Health field who are working on, or would be interested in working on themes related to violence and its prevention. The global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. The 16 days were chosen specifically to highlight the connection between human rights and gender-based violence. If you’re a arts & health practitioner working on, or interested in working on themes related to violence & its prevention, email

A reminder that we are inviting applications for new trustees to join Arts & Health South West’s board. The deadline for applications is 31st October and you can find out more HERE. We would particularly welcome applications from those with lived experience of illness or disability, people from diverse backgrounds and those skilled in fundraising and business.

Finally, there are several links in our recent October e-bulletin related to Black History Month, there are lots of events happening this month which offers an opportunity to think about Black mental health, self-expression, empowerment, and wellbeing, and for the continued fight to end racism in our sector.

Also, if you missed World Mental Health Day then make sure you tune into the Mental Health Foundation special podcast marking #worldmentalhealthday2021. The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10th October every year, and this year’s theme was ‘Mental health in an unequal world’. The Mental Health Foundation hosted a special podcast episode discussing this theme. Listen HERE

Wishing you a creative and healthy October!



Did you find this resource useful?

As a registered charity we are only able to continue to provide the information and resources found on this site if we continue to receive charitable donations and grants. If you found this resource useful, then please consider donating.