Arts and Mental Health

Two workshops to establish a framework that will advance the way in which we talk about the value of cultural engagement and the methods by which we evaluate that value.

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Alison Rooke was successful in being awarded AHRC funding for two expert workshops funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC)  Cultural Value funding strand.

This funding strand seeks to establish a framework that will advance the way in which we talk about the value of cultural engagement and the methods by which we evaluate that value. These awards build on the body of evaluative research regarding participatory processes, socially engaged art practice, citizenship and urban change that Alison has been carrying out along with the research team at CUCR.

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Arts and Mental Health: Creative Collisions and Critical Conversations (PDF download)

The Creative Collisions and Critical Conversation expert workshop brought together mental health and social care practitioners, artists, gallery arts education practitioners, funders, theorists, researchers and artists currently working at the interface between the arts and mental health in a ‘creative collision’ to identify ways delivering of arts/mental health with energy, creativity in order to develop a shared sense of purpose and the recognition that arts practice not only improves ‘patient management’ but also make a valuable contribution to the education and training of health practitioners.

Expert participants were invited to share examples of creative and professional practice which intervene into the field of mental health and reflect on the cultural value of these approaches. This includes recognition that mental health problems are not a matter of service provision for those outside of the care professions, but also that mental health problems are a major source of sickness absence among NHS staff. The workshop

  • Examined the drivers for combining art and participatory art, in the health and social care sector, the informal and third sector including “user-led’ arts groups and the disciplinary and professional frameworks systems of value which shape these interventions.
  • Reflected on current critical participatory arts practice (including service user-led initiatives) to examine the tensions raised by and opportunities offered through mental health and participatory arts interventions for a range of stakeholders.
  • Examined the significance of the aesthetic dimension of the range of arts practices represented in the workshop.

All participants were asked to to reflect and share responses to set of six key questions circulated in advance of the workshop:

  • What factors are driving the arts and mental health sectors to come more closely together?
  • What tensions arise in this area of work between different stakeholders?
  • Where is the ‘art’ in this process and what does it look like? How does it matter? What is lost in translation?
  • How do you show the value of relationships established through this practice?
  • How can different evaluators speak to one another, how could they in the future?