A Frame is Not a State of Mind – Artist Talk / Creative Coffee Break Conversation

abstract still frame from artists' film
abstract still frame from artists' film
Creative Coffee Break Conversation: the role of culture in addressing health inequalities, an event by Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland.

A Frame is Not a State of Mind – Artist Talk

10:30 – 11:30am Tuesday 7 December 2021

on-line via Zoom

“Health inequalities are the unjust and avoidable differences in people’s health across the population and between specific population groups.

Health inequalities go against the principles of social justice because they are avoidable. They do not occur randomly or by chance. They are socially determined by circumstances largely beyond an individual’s control. These circumstances disadvantage people and limit their chance to live longer, healthier lives.”  (Public Health Scotland)

Chris McAdam and James McLardy will be in conversation to discuss their process of making their collaborative film works during the two lockdowns. The first collaboration explored remoteness and the strangeness of the moment. The second key, life moments and their collaborative working relationship. Both films explore and question feelings of isolation and anxiety.

You can access the films that Chris and James will talk about here: A Frame is Not a State of Mind  and  Summer in to Autumn.

Chris and James will have a small invited audience joining them in-person, with other members of the public being involved via Zoom.

Register your online place here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creative-coffee-break-conversation-a-frame-is-not-a-state-of-mind-tickets-198826043047

Please contact Lauren Blair at Voluntary Health Scotland with any questions about this event.

This is the first event in series of conversations happening over the next 3 months which will include looking at the role culture can play in supporting health outcomes including: food poverty, women’s health, and global culture and health collaborations. More information will be available soon.



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 www.aliss.org 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 www.aliss.org, 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 hello@aliss.org or call us on 0141 404 0239.

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: https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/ResearchBriefings/Report/2021/3/23/ee202c60-93ad-4a27-a6e7-67613856ba24

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 info@achws.org 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.


photo of young people in theatre activity

photo of young people in theatre activityJoin us

Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland (ACHWS) network is for anyone who believes in the positive impact of the arts and culture in improving health and wellbeing.

The network offers a space to highlight creative health collaborations, share practice and learning, and to provide information and support for anyone involved in and interested in art and culture within health, social care, community or voluntary services. We aim to be a responsive network for anyone working across arts and culture, health and wellbeing in Scotland.

We are reaching out to raise awareness of the network and to encourage new people to join.

We want your voices to be heard. Soon we will be asking members to complete a survey to find out how ACHWS can best support you and your interest in arts, culture, health, social care and wellbeing.

We aim to support the increasing scope and depth of creative health collaborations across Scotland and more widely. Some key areas of interests which we would like to explore through the network are:

  • How do we increase opportunities to engage with the arts and culture within health, social care and community settings, while ensuring the quality of that engagement?
  • How can we work towards integrating arts and culture into health, social care and community services?
  • How can we influence system change to be able to sustain quality and meaningful practice?

Join here!

Follow us using @achwscotland on Twitter and Facebook and visit our website for more information on some of the amazing work being carried out in Scotland.

Creative Scotland met with Robbie McGhee, Chair of ACHWS and Claire Stevens, Secretary of ACHWS to find out more about the network, who it’s for, and the benefits of joining. Watch the video here.

Please get in touch if you would like us to highlight your projects or organisation.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Inequality | Power | Sustainability – The Culture Health and Wellbeing International Conference 2021

conference logo

conference logoCulture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference (CHW21), 21-23 June 2021 

Inequality | Power | Sustainability


Drawing on over 200 submissions from 20 countries, there will be 100+ live sessions and 10 country panels from around the world. CHW21 will showcase inspiring arts and health work from across the globe and encourage lively debates informed by different perspectives spanning policy, research, practice, lived experience and co-production.


Based on three key themes – Inequality | Power | Sustainability, the digital programme will provide a space for exploring individual and collective experiences and articulating a vision for the future. Designed to engage audiences from around the world with key notes in the morning, afternoon and evening and interactive sessions that take into account different time zones for presenters and audiences, tickets offer full access to the 3-day live programme, as well as access to recordings of sessions on demand between 21st-25th June.


  • Early Bird Tickets – £150 (on sale until 7th May)
  • Regular Tickets – £200 (on sale from 8th May – 7th June)


Find out more including how tickets can be shared, and book a ticket- www.ahsw.org.uk/event/chw21/

“Every child is an artist”, the Role of Culture in the Health & Wellbeing of Young People

image of young people enjoying workshop

An Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland (ACHWS) event discussing the role of the arts in improving the wellbeing of children and young people. This was an online event, 2 – 4pm on Wednesday 9th June 2021. 

image of young people enjoying workshop

Following on from the ACHWS event on the arts and older people, “With Age, Art and Life Become One“, this event focused on the role of arts, and culture on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Both events had over 90 registered attendees and a waiting list for each.

Bringing together a range of arts and health practitioners, this event discussed the impact and issues but also look forward to the role the arts can play in recovering and reshaping the future. The impact on the mental health of children and young people has been huge and the full extent of this is still unknown.

What creative ways can we work together to improve health and mental wellbeing of young people in Scotland?


Some of the presentations have been documented here.