What and Why?

Rationale for the Strategic Framework for Arts, Health and Wellbeing in South West England

What is it?

This draft framework sets out a strategic vision for improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities by strengthening the capacity of arts and cultural practitioners and organisations to align with and contribute to health and wellbeing priorities in South West England.

What values guide the framework?

The framework reflects a flexible and evolving assets-based approach to addressing local and regional health and wellbeing priorities, expanding the impact of current activities and filling gaps through cross sectoral action and shared responsibility. It builds on regional and national agendas in the field of arts for health and wellbeing, including helping to deliver the ten recommendations in the Creative Health report and working with the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance to ensure knowledge and experience is shared nationally.

How were the priorities chosen?

Views gathered during the development process are central to the identification of the priorities in Goal 2. Having the flexibility to respond to local needs and opportunities was very important to respondents, as priorities may vary according to place, needs, and resources. Of the many regional and national health priorities, three were chosen that build on the natural strengths of the arts and cultural sector and present opportunities for growth, partnership development, and leadership.


  • Loneliness is a national priority with a national strategy. Arts Council England has committed its funded organisations to contributing to the loneliness agenda and to using the national loneliness measure in evaluation. Arts and cultural organisations can benefit from additional support to strengthen their knowledge and capacity to deliver on this priority.
  • Improving mental health is high on the agenda of the NHS. Both Arts Council England and the NHS have highlighted the importance of engaging with and supporting young people. The arts and cultural sector can contribute to this major health priority by improving its skills and developing working partnerships to respond to current funding opportunities.
  • Social Prescribing cuts across many health and wellbeing concerns and is being promoted at a high level nationally and in the South West region. The engagement of the arts and cultural sector in social prescribing is at an early stage regionally and stakeholders can learn much from each other.


How is it being developed?

This framework development process is being facilitated by Arts & Health South West (AHSW), working collaboratively with arts, health and wellbeing stakeholders across South West England. Input from interviews, focus groups, and relevant documents is being incorporated into the process. A working grouphas discussed key issues and preliminary drafts in meetings convened by AHSW, and further input from a wider group of stakeholders is being incorporated as the document evolves and is implemented.

What’s next?

As input is gathered from more stakeholders, the working group will continue developing the framework to refine goals and strategies, and to include specific activities that can advance the agenda. Implemented over a 3-5 year timeframe, the framework will include action plans and measurable objectives. The framework will be shared broadly, and support sought for achieving its goals. AHSW will continue to play a facilitating role, while stakeholders from all sectors are encouraged to share current activities and collaborate on developing new initiatives that address the framework’s objectives.

How to Get Involved

How can the Regional Strategy be used and by whom? This flexible and evolving framework for action can be used by different stakeholders to advance the arts for health and wellbeing agenda in a variety of ways. ...

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Working Group Participants Hannah Baker, Project Manager, The Arts Development Company, Dorset Area Lead for Dorset. Caroline Barnes, Arts Manager, Yeovil District Hospital Alex Coulter, Director, Arts & Health South West Lerato Dunn, Arts Officer, Bristol City ...

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