Arts and health embraces a range of arts practices occurring primarily in healthcare settings, which bring together the skills and priorities of both arts and health professionals. From an Arts Council perspective, good arts and health practice is characterised by a clear artistic vision, goals and outcomes. It aims to promote health and wellbeing by improving quality of life and cultural access in healthcare settings. Arts and health can involve all artforms, and incorporate a variety of approaches, including conventional arts production and presentation, arts participation and environmental enhancement. The Arts Council makes a distinction between arts and health practice and the arts therapies. In the former, the primary focus is on the experience and production of art, in the
latter, the primary goal is clinical. The Arts Council supports practice where artistic outcomes are prioritised as a means of enhancing health and wellbeing
and does not support practice where therapy is the primary goal or outcome.
The Arts Council arts and health policy and strategy (PDF, 0.08MB) outlines the values that underpin its approach to arts and health practice, and strategic actions for the five-year period 2010–2014. The policy and strategy
was developed following a period of consultation and research with the arts and health sector, which included Vital Signs, a series of arts and health events that took place in October 2009.
Within the Arts Council, arts and health is the responsibility of the Arts Participation team. Arts participation is a core value across all areas of the Arts Council’s work as reflected in the
current Strategy 2016–2025 (PDF, 3.29 MB), which commits to increasing public access, participation and engagement in the arts, as well as assisting artists of all disciplines to make work of excellence. This includes artists who base their practice in the area of arts and health.
A number of key agencies, funded by the Arts Council have a central role in supporting these areas of work. One such organisation is Waterford Healing Arts Trust
The Arts Council offers a wide range of financial supports across artforms and arts practices, including arts and health. Those supports, direct and indirect, that are available are described in detail in financial support. They include bursaries, projects and travel and training awards, and the Artist in the community scheme, which is managed externally by Create.
As the development agency for the arts, the Arts Council has commissioned, assisted or published reports and studies outlining how the Council will seek to enrich provision and practice in all the arts, including in arts and health. These can be accessed by clicking on research
The national arts and health website www.artsandhealth.ie
was launched in October 2011 and provides a resource and focal point for the dynamic field of arts and health in Ireland. The website includes resource documents, case studies, a directory of contacts, perspectives on a range of issues and current news. The website was initiated and is funded by the Arts Council as an important
element of its Arts and Health Policy (PDF, 0.08MB). The website was developed by Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) in partnership with Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts. artsandhealth.ie is currently managed by WHAT with the support of an independent editorial panel.