Supporting Culture and Wellbeing from the Grassroots

Written by Lewis Hou (Founder and Director, Science Ceilidh)

Harmony Choir joining in a Fun Palaces even in Leith (Chris Scott, 2016)
Harmony Choir joining in a Fun Palaces even in Leith (Chris Scott, 2016)

Culture has an incredible role to play in supporting health and wellbeing so how do we support this on a grassroots level, starting from communities themselves?

I ask this question in response to a provocation that was brought up during a recent Culture Collective meeting I was invited to – “How do we move away from a problem-solving mentality when it comes to working with communities?”

This struck me as a powerful question particularly in the context of health and wellbeing and brought to mind some of the learnings we’ve developed as part of our action research work with the Fun Palaces campaign supporting Cultural Democracy in contrast to the Democratisation of Culture. That is, rather than valuing and making only one type of predefined “culture” more accessible, opening up “what counts” as culture in the first place and challenging a hierarchical and “deficit model” approach – that communities who don’t engage in specific cultural forms are somehow lacking. Instead, how do we support communities as active agents in their own cultural life and wellbeing and recognising their existing assets, knowledge and expertise?

This is one of the core philosophies that motivates our work with Science Ceilidh and something we celebrate during the Fun Palaces weekend of action in October – our shout out of the value of the skills and passions already in all communities and the power this has to challenge social isolation among other wider themes of climate action and inequity.

Another approach we take is breaking down the barriers around understanding (and contributing to) the links between creativity and wellbeing in the first place. We do this on the ground as practitioners through our school and youthwork programmes supporting educators and learners (including with our Youth Music Initiative resources) along with programmes such as supporting singing leader practitioners to do action research together and co-develop toolkits to support inclusive choirs and connecting the links (and appropriate boundaries required) between singing and mental health (our Singing Side By Side project).

Beyond delivery, we also hold space and networks “connecting the connectors” of communities – the trusted intermediaries who have built up meaningful relationships and can themselves advocate and support diverse cultural participation, ownership and wellbeing. This is the aim of the Culture and Wellbeing Community Network Scotland as an informal network with a facebook group, mailing list and discussions sharing ideas on broad themes across sectors – from community anchors like libraries to wider third sector organisations, creative practitioners and individuals and groups who are just curious themselves. For specifically youth workers – a critical bridge to a wide range of young people – we also support the Open Mind Network who meet to share practice and ideas supporting creativity and mental health.

Communities themselves should also be leading the evolving understanding of the role culture and creativity have in wellbeing more widely – and there is an increasing understanding that research must meaningfully incorporate different types of expertise and lived experiences.

What might it look like to be able to support communities to work with researchers to explore mental wellbeing in a way which is genuinely equitable rather than only being researched “on” – at best tokenistically included and at worst, extracted from. This is a question we are working with the British Science Association to understand with The Ideas Fund which is taking a more participatory approach to supporting these types of partnerships with groups in the Highlands and Islands. The first round supported over half a million pounds between 15 groups – many of whom this was their first experience of working with researchers and for some, their first bit of funding. Many of these projects heavily embed artists and arts-based approaches to explore mental wellbeing – from carers working as peer researchers in Moray and families on the Isle of Gigha understanding the role of art and nature, groups in North Uist exploring the role of gaelic heritage and digital approaches, to youth-led projects understanding the wellbeing benefits of blue spaces or glasswork in Caithness.

A sharing ceilidh with New Scots sharing a kurdish dance (Chris Scott, 2019)

Convening the groups and researchers for our regular Community of Practices has provided rich opportunities for both peer-based learning and connections along with wider learning about how these partnerships develop and can be supported – how to balance the push and pulls of having enough structure whilst being responsive to community needs (especially during a pandemic) and how to share power and decision-making in spite of the different pace and administrative requirements of community and academic research.

We have learnt a lot about the process of funding and supporting this work more equitably, and keen to share this to the wider sector (see some early reflections here). This has shaped our currently live Second Round calling for Expressions of Interest to join a funded “incubator” which provides tailored support, matching with researchers, and development time before finalising a project collaboratively between partners and the fund itself.

If you’re a community group in the Highlands and Islands and/or a researcher (including independent researcher) and interested in this process, find out more here. If you’re interested in this grant scheme (or any of our other projects) on a strategic level, we host an active stakeholder network sharing learning and opportunities to connect – please get in touch

For Freedom Space with Rivers, an intergenerational arts project

image of women smiling while working with ink on large paper scroll

image of women smiling while working with ink on large paper scroll

For Freedom Space with Rivers is a six month intergenerational arts project being led creatively by Rachel Clive and Kirsty Stansfield. It is building on Rachel Clive’s ecological theatre practice-based research at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Kirsty Stansfield’s arts in health practise at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.

The concept and opening questions

River flooding, like sea level rise, is increasing across the world and the effect of this on humans who live by rivers can be devastating. Freedom space for rivers thinking is an approach to river/ flood risk management which seeks to workwith rivers as they respond to a changing climate, rather than against them. It acknowledges that there are urban areas in which hard engineering approaches are necessary but advocates, where possible, for “more space for rivers to migrate and flood naturally” (Biron et al, 2014). When rivers have the freedom space to find their own way, they enrich the environment and nurture biodiversity in the process. Protecting freedom space for rivers means not building new developments on flood plains. As flooding increases, humans will have to retreat from rivers in some areas, and relocate, something that will clearly be easier for some humans than others.

This project is interested in generating conversations, creative processes and art-works about our connections with the rivers and waterways we live with. What happens to freedom space for rivers thinking in urban contexts, given the constraints on rivers in built up areas? How do we understand and experience freedom space for rivers thinking both practically and emotionally? How might we explore it creatively? What does freedom space mean for us as humans? How do our personal, social and material circumstances affect our experiences and understandings of freedom space?

How might we respect and nurture our own and each others freedom space, as well as that of rivers, across our multiple differences?

woman collecting water from the River Clyde

About the project

The project is offering a series of arts-based workshops and individual arts commissions exploring our understandings and expressions of freedom space for rivers, with particular reference to the River Clyde and its tributaries. The first workshop series relates to COP26, and is based at the University of Glasgow. The second workshop series is evolving around questions of health and care, and is based at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice. The third workshop series is focussing on urgent questions of precarity, migration, safety/asylum and solidarity and is based at Interfaith Glasgow. From these group workshops 15 individual artist commissions are being supported by the project. These commissions are being developed collectively with reference to a large travelling scroll, and will be shared publicly at the University of Glasgow in May 2022, six months after the end of COP26.

The project is funded by Being Human, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, and presented as part of the University of Glasgow’s The Dear Green Bothy programme, hosting creative and critical responses to climate emergency.

If you would like to engage with the project in any way then please contact Rachel Clive on or Casi Dylan on

Images:  Layering and Moving with the Scroll: Ardjila, Ghanima, Fatima, Fifi and Anwan, Springburn, March 2022 & Ghanima collecting water from the River Clyde, Dumbarton, March 2022.


CAIR: Caithness Artists in Residence, Lyth Arts Centre

people wearing embroidered aprons and holding other garments with emboidered text

people wearing embroidered aprons and holding other garments with emboidered text

Lyth Arts Centre (LAC) is the UK’s most northerly mainland arts centre, presenting an annual programme of live performance across Caithness alongside contemporary visual art and an extensive participatory programme of educational and socially-engaged arts projects led by local creatives in our community. LAC strives to be a nationally and internationally recognised, industry leading small arts centre that practices radical localism and challenges conceptions about what it means to be ‘rural’. Our Caithness community is at the heart of everything we do and we work across the county acting as a cultural hub for the North of Scotland.

Since the pandemic, LAC has been developing new arts and wellbeing programmes. Central to this has been CAIR: Caithness Artists in Residence – a new community arts initiative that connects artists and creative practitioners with distinct Caithness communities.
Led by LAC and local community organisations, the project explores how we could work with artists and facilitate creative responses to local problems, encouraging creative cultural activism and prioritising an artist and community centric approach to recovery after Coronavirus.

A steep decline in our communities mental wellbeing since Covid-19 is regularly reported by many of our partners and their participants. In response to this, several of the CAIR projects have focussed on arts-based wellbeing activities to reduce isolation, improve confidence and explore tools and ideas for healthy wellbeing in Caithness.

Five local artists worked with local communities in Caithness, responding to Locality Plans within the area. Kelly Munro worked with local young people to explore their maritime heritage and identity through metalwork and design. Karlyn Sutherland worked specifically with Caithness Community Connections in Lybster using her vast skill base. George Gunn worked across the county delivering writing workshops and developing ‘Words on the Wind’ a community poem/film project which explores and captures what it means to live in Caithness today. Donna Swanson collaborated with young people and communities in and around Thurso using theatre and film techniques to explore mental health and other local issues. And Joanne B Karr collaborated with Befriending Caithness – a voluntary service that aims to reduce isolation and loneliness in the county by matching volunteers to older isolated adults in the county.

During Joanne’s project she collaborated with Befriending Caithness to develop a textile reminiscent pack through weekly sessions. The themes were varied and included “School Days” and “Fishing Folk”. The group decided to collaboratively create a “reminiscence pack library” at the Befriending Caithness office where befrienders can go and pick up a pack and take it along to their meetings with befriendees to encourage conversation and memory. These will also be available to local care homes. As a culmination of the project the group decided to host a touring exhibition, taking some of the work to more rural and remote befriendees gardens.

Feedback from befrienders described the project as being like a breath of fresh air and a true inspiration, reporting that the best part of the project were the conversations that people had in preparation before sewing. Key worker Angie House from Befriending Caithness said,

‘The whole experience has encouraged conversation at a very difficult time, it brought laughter, socialising and exchanging our past individual stories within the community.’

Watch videos and find out more about the CAIR: Caithness Artists in Residence here.

Charlotte Mountford, Co-Director Lyth Arts Centre


Art in Nature, Moray Art Centre

large painted artwork laid on table outside with several people working on this together

Who is Moray Art Centre?

Moray Art Centre (MAC) is a registered charity offering a community hub for everyone with a focus on making art accessible to all. MAC runs our many in-person classes, workshops and Summer School while exhibiting work in the beautiful gallery spaces. We are a vibrant and motivating organisation that allows people to meet, discuss and generate a community of creativity. While based in Findhorn, we champion local artists and celebrate the rich culture throughout Moray and the North of Scotland. Our aim is to provide the tools of creativity so that anyone can benefit from their undoubted health and community benefits.

Our Art in Nature Workshop Pilot

In September 2021 Moray Art Centre (MAC) led a trial Art in Nature workshop designed in partnership with the local fellow charity Wild Things, Moray Wellbeing Hub and the artist Iona Leishman to teach participants about the local environment while using creativity to manage and improve their mental health.

Wild Things set the scene in the environment surrounding MAC at Findhorn, educating participants about the local habitats and wildlife. Back in the garden at MAC, artist Iona Leishman then guided them to making a joint mural using found materials and expressing their experiences with their new art skills. Moray Wellbeing Hub connected MAC to those with mental health issues who expressed an interest in the workshop, although this was not the only pathway to the programme. MAC provided a facilitator, promotion, arts materials, participant support (before, during and after the workshop) and a teaching space.

people standing on a grassy hill listening to a speaker

Many peer-reviewed studies show how expressing creativity and spending time in nature can improve mental health, with the NHS providing prescriptions for people to partake in these activities (Arts Council 2016, Thomson et al 2020). Even prior to the impacts of the pandemic, awareness of the importance of robust mental health was growing. Now, post-lockdown, some people need help acclimatising to interacting with others and overcoming the fear of the past two years.

The Art in Nature workshop was designed with the recovery route of the CHIME framework in mind. The importance of connection is present when building relationships and cooperation with others in the workshop, especially when producing a joint art piece. The sense of empowerment participants gain when expressing their Identity by forging their creative strengths is also seen in the workshop.

large art work in progress laid out across some tables with 2 people working adding to the painting

The survey results from the trial workshop were overwhelmingly positive in MAC’s provision of the workshop and the overall impacts on participants from the local community. 60% of those at the workshop stated that the connection with other people was what they appreciated most about the experience, demonstrating the need to provide services to help people interact with others. Everyone who took part in the trial felt buoyed by the experience with one participant remarking, “Thank you so much for letting my inner arty self and child out for a play.”

MAC is now applying for grants with the hope of offering at least 3 programmes of Art in Nature workshop – one for children, one for a specific group (e.g. care homes, Men’s Shed, etc.) and one for the general public. An award from Moray Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund will enable MAC, Moray Wellbeing Hub and Wild Things to launch at least one series of workshops this year and help to improve the health and wellbeing of the local community.

If you are interested in hearing more or wish to just drop us a line about any of our provisions and projects please email and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Lucy Summers (MAC Board member)

Foodbanks and Films

photo of people watching a film in a community venue

Foodbanks and Films

Is it time to start talking about ‘long covid’ for communities, as well as individuals? There is increasing evidence, such as a recent report from Community Leisure UK of multiple challenges in reopening and staffing community venues and spaces. Many of the local groups that we work with in Regional Screen Scotland are reporting difficulty in recruiting enough volunteers to be able to get up and running again. Undoubtedly, a whole range of community activities and events have not restarted and many may perhaps be permanently lost.

We need an urgent national dialogue about this problem and what it may mean for long-term personal and communal health. But, is part of the problem that we lack the evidence, the metrics and even the language to appreciate and talk about the potential scale and impact of what’s happening?

As my field is community and local cinema let me cite one excellent example that we work with – the film screenings organised (pre-Covid) by North Ayrshire Foodbank. As Coordinator Craig Crosthwaite explains:

‘North Ayrshire Foodbank has been operating a mobile cinema project for 6 years. The aim is to address the aspiration of the Scottish Government to have communities experience a large screen cinematic experience. The portable system has been in use at a weekly showing in our own base in Ardrossan (pre-COVID) and at venues across the local authority including churches, community centres, libraries and schools.

The mobile cinema was funded for three-years by Impact Funding partners to recruit and train volunteers to operate the system (how to use the equipment, food hygiene, lifting and handling, DTP, photography and Pacific Institute’s “Steps to Excellence” for personal development), who then hosted 4 showings a year in their community. We recruited 11 teams who operated 44 showings a year (pre-COVID).

We are currently working on a Young Directors’ holiday project which started this October with the aim for the group to produce a 2 minute film during Easter 2022 which will be shown at future mobile cinema events.

We call our cinema sessions “Film for Food” where the aim is to raise necessary items for the Foodbank’s emergency food boxes. Attendees have donated 8 tons of food over the years of operation. Ultimately we use the mobile cinema to raise food, train volunteers, encourage film making and to entertain by screening top rated movies.’

Everyone who hears Craig talk about this work is inspired by the model and by the simple aim that you need to feed the mind as well as the body. But how do we translate this undoubtedly special project into the language of health professionals and policymakers? How do we evidence the health benefits of a film screening in a community affected by multiple deprivation factors? As Claire Stevens of Voluntary Health Scotland puts it:

‘I’m hoping there is a way the contribution can be framed or teased out so as to spell out more overtly the health outcomes for people. There will be health improvement benefits for the community, perhaps aligned to, or complementing the health and wellbeing outcomes that the Food Bank itself is generating? There will be benefits in terms of increased personal wellbeing, reduced social isolation and loneliness, perhaps reduced stigma (less stigmatising to use the Food Bank if it is also offering cinema), and wider public health benefits in terms of increased community capacity and resilience. It contributes to the government and public health’s aspirations to create and sustain 20 minute neighbourhoods.’

But, like thousands of other community initiatives across the country, North Ayrshire Foodbank is run by volunteers, working incredibly hard to simply deliver their core purposes and bring direct benefit to their communities. How do they find the time, the resources and the expertise, to monitor, evaluate and document the health benefits that I’m sure they see, personally and anecdotally, in ways that can contribute to a meaningful discussion about how best to tackle health inequalities in some of Scotland’s poorest areas? I’ve worked in the cultural sector for over 40 years and for most of that time the debate about arts and health has ebbed and flowed, and still the crucial question of evidence has never been resolved, even though we may need the answer more urgently now – post-lockdown, than ever.

Robert Livingston, Director, Regional Screen Scotland


Anything is Possible

brightly coloured image of art work 'Kiss on the Cheek' being hung on wall

brightly coloured image of art work 'Kiss on the Cheek' being hung on wall

What are health inequalities?

Health inequalities are the unjust and avoidable differences in people’s health across the population and between specific population groups. Health inequalities mean that some people experience poorer health than average and often die younger, for reasons of poverty, deprivation, discrimination and/or disempowerment. 

Health inequalities are not inevitable, they are related to our overall social and economic system and the circumstances people find themselves in, and these unjust and avoidable differences in people’s health need to be prevented and reduced.  In the most affluent areas of Scotland, men experience 23.8 more years of good health and women experience 22.6 more years compared to the most deprived areas. 

The existence of health inequalities in Scotland means that the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is not being enjoyed equally across the population. Public Health Scotland


So, what role do the arts play in helping to address health inequalities?

The last eighteen months have been an eye opener. When the first lockdown occurred, support, kindness and inventiveness blossomed. Shelter was organised for those who had none, food was delivered to those who had little, and contact was made with those in need of friendly voice.

It also reminded us that significant inequalities continue to exist. Not only do some people not have shelter or enough food to live on, but they also don’t have enough money to heat their home, or access to digital means to stay in touch or to help get the support they need.

When lockdown hit creativity flourished. It flourished not because the right structures had been created for it to do so. It flourished because we are all inherently inventive and the pandemic was a catalyst for creativity in many different walks of life. This was not only expressed through art in the windows, but also through finding quick ways to circumnavigate bureaucratic structures, and to make what seems impossible, possible.

Working in the arts we often talk about the fact that little attention is being paid to its importance and its use in everyday lives. It takes a pandemic to dispel a myth. Creativity is inherent in all of us, it makes us who we are. It articulates what we experience, gives voice to our feelings, provides new perspectives, and can create a sense of hope where things might feel hopeless.

Art creates a space where issues and experiences can be explored from a perspective which resonate with others. It helps us make connections and lets us see experiences from different points of view, be that through writing, for example the 2018 Orwell Prize-winning ‘Poverty Safari’ by Darren McGarvey, or the visual arts practice of 2021 Turner Prize nominated Gentle/Radical.

Creative opportunity provides a space where people with little direct arts experience can come together to share something that inspires, excites or breaks the monotony of life in an institutional setting.

horse riders watching game of ping pong on a beach

So, how might you go about starting this creative or cultural dialogue? You have to get yourself out there and find ways of getting the conversation going, and that is where the creative process starts. There are many ways to create a space which is open and not intimidating. Through this dialogue we begin to understand how people lead their lives, what pressures and frustrations they face, what their hopes and ambitions are and what interests and skills they bring. Conversations start and evolve. One day you might be gardening with a group of people and as a consequence of what feels like a random conversation about beekeeping, you start on a 3 year-long journey that ends up in a re-designed Scottish Beekeepers pavilion at the Royal Highland Show.

man riding on accessible bike

How do we know that any of this makes a difference?

Well, just look at what happened and if you have to be convinced of the fact that art is important of, and in itself, then simply look at the environment it creates. One where people are valued, where skills are recognised and identities celebrated.

Although art, creativity and culture is not some kind of magic healing bullet it is intrinsically about who we are, or perhaps more importantly, what we could be.

Jan-Bert van den Berg, Director, Artlink Edinburgh & Lothians and Board Member of ACHWS.


All images are credited Artlink Edinburgh & Lothians.


Additional reading:

An excellent, short, comprehensible and up to the minute one page briefing on health inequalities, provided by the Scottish Parliament’s information team (SPICE). It also discusses why and how covid is widening the health inequalities gap between certain groups, notably rich and poor:

International Arts in Medicine Fellowship is open for applications

Flyer advertising Arts in Medicine Fellowship

The Arts in Medicine Fellowship is open for applications

Arts in Medicine Fellowship is a non-profit arm of Tender Arts Nigeria. We focus on the medical humanities and seek to promote art engagements to alleviate the pains of individuals and improve overall health outcomes of patients, families and caregivers. As an arm of Tender Arts Nigeria, we provide education, awareness, research, and practical interventions through the arts and thought leadership. We engage with those in need of healing, cultivating more functional and supportive environments in non-traditional spaces. This is important because we believe that being in good health is a precondition inextricably linked to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal – Good Health and Well-being.

Our Vision is to become a global institution that connects people to wellbeing through the arts.
Our Mission is to fuse the arts with medicine to build the capacity of key wellness stakeholders, and create frameworks for the practice of therapeutic arts.

Join our community of practitioners to help bridge the gap between the arts and health care systems internationally and become a leader in arts in health.

Applicants for the fellowship programme can be students or professionals already working in the field of arts in health practice and those who are interested in this field.  The Fellowship is opened to students in tertiary institutions and professionals, including: artists, musicians, writers,  poets, dramatists, dancers, social workers, medical professionals, administrators, researchers, clinicians, educators,  policymakers, community leaders, media practitioners, filmmakers, photographers, entrepreneurs and mental health and wellness advocates.

The Arts in Medicine Fellowship has existing partners around the world and can help support participants to find new partners for new projects in hospitals, health centers, hospices and in the community.

The fellowship curriculum includes:

  • An introduction to Arts in Health
  • Leadership in Arts in Health: Developing Arts in Health interventions
  • Design Thinking and Health Innovations
  • Arts and Mental Health
  • Creative Practice: Dance, Visual Arts, Poetry, Mindfulness
  • Arts in Health Festival: Community Engagements

Applicants will gain a rich understanding of international arts and health collaboration, education on arts in health best practices, cross-cultural engagements, recommendations for all expense paid international fellowships on arts in health-related interventions and programming, mentoring and professional development.

For more information please get in touch.

Application deadline: December 6, 2021. Make your application here.

For more information watch our film on the Arts in Medicine Fellowship.

Kunle Adewale, Founder/Executive Director Arts in Medicine Fellowship,

ALISS: Finding and sharing information for wellbeing

ALISS logo (blue background, white text)

ALISS logo (blue background, white text)

There are many organisations, groups, services, and activities across Scotland which help people to live well, and it’s important that people are able to find out what’s available, however this is often challenging.  ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland) is a national digital platform which is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) to help people find and share information that can support health and wellbeing. This very much includes arts, culture and heritage programmes and activities which is why we’d love for ACHWS members to get involved!

ALISS information is ‘crowdsourced’ meaning that organisations and individuals living and working in communities across Scotland can work together to gather, add, manage and share information about the things that matter to them. Information added is available for people to find on the website as well as a range of partner’s websites and systems, both by people searching directly for themselves or for family and friends, as well as by professionals involved in social prescribing and signposting roles.

Adding your information to ALISS can therefore help you to increase participation and reach new audiences by making your services and activities more findable through a variety of channels where different people go to find information.

Examples of some arts, culture and heritage organisations already listed on ALISS include:

Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)

Theatre Nemo

Art in Healthcare

Carron Creates Craft Group

Music 4 U

To join them and add your own group or organisation, please visit, sign up for an account and then click the ‘Add an organisation’ link on the menu bar. After you’ve added it, or if it is already listed, you can also ‘claim’ your organisation to take editorial control of your information so that you can edit and update whenever necessary to make sure it stays accurate and up to date for people searching.

If you have any questions or need any assistance in adding or claiming your information we would be happy to help and we’d also love to hear from you to learn more about your work, and to consider any other ways in which ALISS could support this.

If you would like to find out more and chat about ways to get involved, you can get in touch at or call us on 0141 404 0239.

Climate + Health + Arts: A new challenge?

Arts Health & Environment venn diagram

Health is one of the major areas affected by the climate crisis, now and in all forecasts for the future consequences of climate change. We see this in the form of the impacts of extreme weather, in particular heatwaves, but also as anxiety about climate change.

Health is bound up in the various Government Climate Change strategies where action on climate is also action on human health, such as relating to diet and a move towards a more plant-based diet, as just one example. Another key area is greenspace where human health benefits align closely with climate mitigation and adaptation strategies to ensure healthy, active environments for people and nature to thrive.

NHS Boards are facing significant challenges to meet #netcarbonzero targets as this affects every aspect of operations across energy, procurement, waste, transport, as well as public health dimensions of diet and greenspace.

ACHWS and Voluntary Health Scotland are planning to host a series of events at the intersection of arts, health and climate. The first event, planned for February 2022, will offer an overview of the range of relevant issues. This will be followed by further events on specific areas, such as mental health and greenspace.

We’d love to hear from you if you have relevant examples of projects and expertise you would like to contribute and share?  Please get in touch by emailing using the subject line ‘arts health climate’.

Please provide:

  • your contact details
  • an outline of the example or expertise you would like to share, including how it is informed by both health and climate/environment expertise and priorities.
  • identify potential co-presenters from either from culture, health, climate or environment sectors, individuals and / or grassroots or community organisations.

We are keen for contributions to be multi-vocal and to include arts and either/both health and climate environment voices. These might be ‘experts’ or ‘lay’ contributors and in selecting presentations we will be looking to ensure a diversity of representation and actively encourage contributions from people who may be under-represented in public dialogue regarding culture, health and climate action.

Chris Fremantle, Cultural Producer, Lecturer and Researcher and Board Member of ACHWS


some links that may be of interest

The São Paulo Declaration on Planetary Health is a multi-stakeholder call to action co-created by the global planetary health community. It outlines the actions necessary for us to achieve a just transformation to a world that optimizes the health & well-being of all people and the planet.

Going green: what do the public think about the NHS and climate change? With the NHS aiming to become the world’s first ‘net zero’ health care system, understanding the views of the public will be important for developing and implementing policies to successfully transition to net zero. This Health Foundation blog explores public perceptions of climate change, health and the NHS. It highlights key findings from an Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by the Health Foundation and considers their implications.



Scotland Panel, Health & Wellbeing International Conference, 2021

Scotland panel
view of presenters on panel
speakers on the panel


The Scotland Panel at Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference 2021 took the form of a conversation between an artist, a doctor and a policy maker. Together they discussed what inequalities have been highlighted to them during the pandemic. They considered how much control they felt they had over their situation working in their particular context, what the benefits of creative activity during this time has been, and how we can build on the positives of what we have learned.

The Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference (CHW21) was on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd June 2021. During the global crisis, the arts and creativity have helped us navigate uncertainty and been agents of hope. The conference provided a space for exploring our individual and collective experiences and articulating a vision for the future. The conference themes were InequalityPower and Sustainability, and it was hosted by Arts and Health South West.


The panel was chaired by Robbie McGhee – Chair ACHW Scotland, Associate Director Art in Hospital.

Robbie has twenty-five years’ experience working in the area of arts, mental health and wellbeing, as a practitioner and now in research, funding and development. He is currently Chair of Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland, Associate Director of Art in Hospital, Freelance Arts and Health Consultant and Arts & Health Research Associate at Glasgow University in School of Medicine.


Dr Elizabeth Oommen, Consultant, Medicine for the Elderly, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Elizabeth is a doctor working in the Department of Medicine for the Elderly at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Gartnaval Hospital in Glasgow. She looks after acutely unwell older adults and older adults in a rehabilitation ward post fracture. Elizabeth enjoys working with Art in Hospital and has found patients to have benefited hugely from participation in art sessions.


Milica Milosevic, Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion, Creative Scotland

Milica is Creative Scotland’s strategic lead for Equality, Diversity & Inclusions. Previously at Arts Council England, she led on diversity & equality strategy and policy, informing the development and delivery of diversity strategy across England. Alongside managing a team of specialists, Milica managed relationships with a diverse portfolio of arts organisations, and has led social inclusion programmes and collaborations with the youth justice system and arts in health & wellbeing programmes.


Jan-Bert Van den Berg, Director, Artlink Edinburgh and the Lothians

Artlink works with people who are elderly and who have a range of disabilities or experience mental ill health. Artlink’s work bridges culture and the voice of people whose lives tend to be trickier due to experiencing a range of inequalities. Jan-Bert brings his creative thinking to Edinburgh Compact, thinking of ways that the public sector and third sector can work together across boundaries to make things better for communities and individuals.