New guide urges health and arts to get together

Local authorities and the NHS should work with arts organisations to prevent illness and improve wellbeing.

That’s the verdict of a new guide from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).

The guide, The Arts of the Possible, says research demonstrates the positive impact that arts and culture has on health and wellbeing of people taking part. A recent study showed that savings can be made arts projects had an impact on reducing hospital admissions.

The guide suggests that local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, NHS hospital trusts and other health bodies could work with arts professionals to engage with local populations, and to prevent ill health and support people to manage existing conditions.

Jessica Harris, cultural commissioning programme manager at the NCVO, said: “Large numbers of arts and cultural organisations are developing expertise in working with people to prevent ill-health and enable management of long-term complex conditions.

These same organisations are frequently working with those whom commissioners find hard to engage, so bringing the two together really makes sense.”

Alan Higgins, chair of the Association of Directors of Public Health’s arts and health policy group and director of public health at Oldham Council, said: “There is huge opportunity for health professionals to work with their local arts sector.”

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