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-

“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.

Donald Macaskill – Getting it right (for) with older people: a human right of creativity

frame from video clip showing powerpoint presentation

Getting it right (for) with older people: a human right of creativity.

Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care talks about cultural rights as a human right, and calls for an end to age discrimination – an inspiring and powerful call for urgent collective action to resource the arts and culture for older people.

“Art is about the flourishing of humanity and the fulfillment of personhood.” – Donald Macaskill


Donald gave this presentation as part of “With Age, Art and Life Become One” The role of culture in the health & wellbeing of older people, an online ACHWS event held on 19th May 2021.

You can read Donald’s article in full in his blog for Scottish Care: “A human right to creativity”.



“With Age, Art and Life Become One”, the role of culture in the health & wellbeing of older people.

image of an older person enjoying music

This was an online event that took place 2 – 4pm, on Wednesday 19th May 2021. This was an Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland event. image of an older person enjoying music

With a title inspired by a quotation from Georges Braque, at this event we explored the role arts and culture play in the health, wellbeing and care of older people whether they live independently or in residential/nursing care and for those who are in hospital.

Older people’s lives have been significantly affected by Covid-19, not least the distressing levels of social isolation and loneliness very many have endured for over 12 months. The removal of much appreciated activities, human contact and services have taken their toll physically, mentally and spiritually on our older population.

How have arts and culture interventions made a difference during these difficult days, what challenges have been faced, and how can the lessons learned help shape the recovery and renewal of services for the future?

What can the arts, culture and care sectors share and learn from one another about compassionate, person-centred and enabling care?

What do we mean by art and life becoming one with age?


Claire Stevens, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Scotland
Robbie McGhee, Chair of Arts, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Scotland and Associate Director, Art in Hospital
Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive, Scottish Care
Anne Gallacher, Director, Luminate Scotland
Barbara McEwan-Gulliver, Artistic Director, Art in Hospital
Joe Traynor, Head of Museums Development, Museums Galleries Scotland
Leesa Mackintosh, Community Link Worker & Alison Leitch, Community Link Worker, Area Lead, North Edinburgh, NHS Lothians

Both this and its partner event “Every child is an artist”: The Role of Culture in the Health & Wellbeing of Young People had over 90 registered attendees and a waiting list for each event.


A Frame is Not a State of Mind – Artist Talk

abstract still frame from artists' film
abstract still frame from artists' film
This was the first in a series of Creative Coffee Break Conversations: addressing the role of culture in tackling health inequalities, an event organised by Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland.


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)

During this Artist Talk, Chris McAdam and James McLardy were 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.

This original event took place online via Zoom on Tuesday 7 December 2021.

You can access the films and documentation of the conversation as a Vimeo Collection below. Or you can view these separately:  documentation of the conversation between Chris and and James, and the films that they talk about A Frame is Not a State of Mind  and  Summer in to Autumn.



Thanks to Chris McAdam and James McLardy for sharing their work with us.

This was the first event in series of conversations 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.



Room for Art- Keeping participants creative and well in their homes during Covid 19

Room for Art is Art in Healthcare’s social prescribing project, providing visual arts workshops facilitated by professional artists. Our participants are referred by GPs, OTs, community link workers, social care agencies, and through self-referral.

Our participants are people who were already very vulnerable prior to the COVID 19 crisis. They suffer from mental health issues (including depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts), long-term health conditions, are socially isolated and experience loneliness. Many of our participants have caring responsibilities and are experiencing challenging living/ housing conditions. They include people with disabilities and people who are financially vulnerable.

Our community partners include; Whale Arts, Wester Hailes Health Agency, North Edinburgh Arts, Piershill Library, ELREC, Redhall Walled Garden (SAMH), Vocal and Streetwork.

When our workshops were suspended in mid-March, we adapted to make sure we could offer continued support to our participants. We currently engage with 70+ participants who usually meet at community venues. Our role has been to help keep people well through connection and creativity, often we are the only service they engage with.

“Since lockdown the staff have worked hard to keep us connected…This has had a big impact on my mental health… enabling me to reconnect to things I find valuable” Participant

We set up a new project called ‘Room for Art at home’ and completely changed our way of working which has included:

  • Regular posted packages with high quality art materials (sponsored by Greatart and Edinburgh Art Shop), cards and art activity sheets.
  • A strong social media presence including a Facebook Group and regular interactive workshops.
  • Weekly Zoom workshops exploring different techniques and materials – a chance to come together and share.
  • Resources including video demonstrations, artist inspirations and activity cards with a focus on surroundings and materials found at home.
  • Opportunities to take part in including participant instigated, online exhibition ‘Living in 2020’, and a colour and doodle book designed by participants and delivered to Streetwork to support those affected by homelessness.
450+ art material packs 
200+ attendances 
at 30 Zoom workshops
50+ digital 
resources produced

Our poster will explore the impact of arts and creativity to support mental health in time of crisis and the importance of making participants feel valued and part of a community.

“I’d had a bad morning…and the Zoom class really helped. It was good to focus on simple creative activities and feel connected to and able to interact with people…I went on to have a much better second half of the day..” Room for Art Participant

For some participants, this year has brought them to crisis point and they have had difficulty in self managing their health. For some that are quite isolated already, life has not been very different and for others, lockdown brought some relief to their anxiety. Covid 19 has given us the opportunity to learn more about the lives of those we work with and work in a way we have been looking to develop for years. It opens up the project to so many other people that are unable to attend art workshops in person.

We will look at what we have learnt working in this way and what we have planned for the future.

Find out more:

Online exhibition:

Facebook – @ROOMFORARTEdinburgh   Instagram –

Iona McCann is the Outreach Manager at Art in Healthcare

View Art in Healthcare poster for the VHS Annual Poster Competition here.