Sector Opportunities

Arts and health online platform and community of practice from Aesop

Aesop are currently seeking organisations who would like to join them as they launch a new Online Platform and Community of Practice,  which will showcase high quality arts programmes providing health and wellbeing outcomes.

Aesop is excited to be moving into the final stages for the summer launch of a new Online Platform and Community of Practice. This is a successor to the Arts Enterprises group and in partnership with the National Academy for Social Prescribing, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Peter Sowerby Foundation and Oak Foundation. HdK Associates won the contract to develop the site, and The Reader, Sing to Beat and Live Music Now are consultation partners in the development.

Who is it for?

The Platform will showcase high quality, well-evidenced arts and health programmes. It will enable users to quickly and easily find a wide variety of high quality programmes. Aesop knows the physical, expressive, sociable and celebratory powers of the arts can deliver positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Now Aesop wants to show the health sector this power. The target audiences are the 1,600 current Social Prescribing Link Workers, other health professionals and the general public. Aesop are currently seeking organisations who would like to join them in this project.

All arts and health programmes in England and Wales will be able to submit a free listing on the Platform. The Platform will be searchable by region, art form, medical condition and also by the quality of evidence-based outcomes. As a result, this centralised listing will increase awareness among the health sector of the range of arts and health programmes available.

The Community of Practice will support the development of arts and health programmes featured on the Platform. It will focus on sharing best practice; enabling programmes to enhance their artistic content, provide stronger evidence, achieve greater impact and become more widely available.

What will it offer

Aesop supports the development of evidence-based arts and social impact programmes. The Online Platform and Community of Practice are designed to further that goal. The health sector needs to increase its trust in arts and health programmes. Trust comes from a solid, evidence-based theory of change, rigorous evaluation and proof of efficacy and cost-effectiveness. The results of Aesop’s 2021 GP survey found barriers to the take-up of arts and health programmes including:

  • Lack of awareness of programmes (72% of UK GPs)
  • No clear evidence of impact (a concern of 31% of UK GPs).
  • High cost of programmes (an issue for 18% of GPs).
  • Not being cost effective (an issue for 14% of GPs).

One way to gain this trust is to have a programme assessment tool for arts and health professionals to use to guide their practice. There is already the Aesop arts for health and wellbeing evaluation framework commissioned by Public Health England, endorsed by Arts Council England. This groundbreaking tool has been downloaded over 3,500 times from the site. However, this is now six years old and needs updating. For example, it does not cover sustainability, scalability and availability of suitable artists to deliver programmes. Aesop is developing a new arts programme assessment tool to build on and improve the existing evaluation framework.

Sector support will be available to all Platform members. Aesop’s Active Ingredients model helps to identify the mechanisms for change in arts and health programmes. Their consultancy service is available to provide bespoke support to arts organisations. Alongside the programme assessment tool, the Online Platform will host a range of events, workshops, short courses and webinars.

How do I get involved?

To submit yourself or your organisation for a free listing on the website all you need to do is complete Aesop’s online Expression of Interest form.

For more information visit

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