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 January 2021

Here’s to a much better 2021, although as I write Chris Whitty is telling the public that we are now at the worst point in the pandemic. The news from hospitals is terrible and for healthcare staff facing this worsening crisis at the frontline, the pressures and stress levels must be immense.

With this in mind, I would urge you to listen to our Stories from the Hospital podcasts: the first is with Dr Will Hirst, a junior doctor who was working at the Great Hospital Swindon during the first wave; the second is with Janine Valentine, Consultant Nurse Older People, and Jenny Walters, Senior Supervisor Housekeeping, at Yeovil Hospital. Janine and Jenny reflect on the Covid Chronicles, a creative writing project to explore staff experiences during the pandemic. All of the Stories from 2020 podcasts speak of the incredible challenges experienced last year, as well as the amazing examples of how artists and arts organisation rose to those challenges.

Now in the short, cold days of January, can we once again raise that community spirit and collective effort? We had hoped for a time for reflection, instead we are back into the depths of it all again. Everyone is exhausted, but perhaps the hopes of the vaccine will help boost morale. The Sir Michael Marmot and Health Foundation Report, Build Back Fairer: the Covid-19 Marmot Review, reflects on how the pandemic has increased inequalities and the steps government and others need to take. You can watch Michael Marmot, Andy Burnham and others discuss the report at the launch here.

Current AHSW Activities

On 21st January we hosted a New Year Reflection with Stephen James-Yeoman, BBC Arts Commissioning Executive Digital and Festivals. Talking to AHSW Trustee, Gillian Taylor, Stephen discussed the power of creativity to transform our health and wellbeing in the context of opportunities for people to watch and participate in creativity at home during lockdown. This will soon be available on our YouTube channel, so please do subscribe for updates here.

Other webinars from our recent Big Give campaign are now available to view on YouTube: the launch event with Spoken Word artist, Liv Torc, and participant in Take Art’s Word/Play project, Jaime Shaw, and a film of participants from Tonic Music for Mental Health; a conversation with artist David Shrigley; and a discussion between AHSW Trustee, Bill Boa, an NHS Finance expert, and Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Mary Hutton, about how they have been able to support the commissioning of arts and culture across Gloucestershire.

With over 200 submissions for the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference, our conference committee is currently reviewing abstracts to inform the conference programme. We anticipate tickets for the conference will go on sale by the beginning of March, and so if you would like to be kept up-to-date please do sign up for our International Conference Mailing List here.


Keep well,


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