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Major report into arts and health launched at Manchester School of Art

26 July 2017

The Arts for Health unit at Manchester Metropolitan was praised for its 'pioneering role' in driving forward the issue

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG) Inquiry report into Arts for Health and Wellbeing had its public launch at Manchester Metropolitan University in July.

The report found that the arts can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived.

Arts also have the potential to meet the great health and social care challenges of the future; namely ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health. As well as benefiting care, this could also save money for the health service.

Members of the APPG, a cross-party group for Members of the House of Commons and Lords based on similar interests, made several recommendations in the report, based on two years of research. These included establishing a national strategic centre for arts, health and wellbeing and a cross-governmental strategy to support the delivery of health and wellbeing through the arts and culture.

It was fitting that the public launch of the report was held in Manchester School of Art, in the thirtieth anniversary year of the Arts for Health unit at Manchester Metropolitan University, the longest established unit of its sort internationally. Greater Manchester is arguably the “wellspring” of the arts interacting with health and wellbeing, according to the report, which further states that Arts for Health has “continued to influence research and development in a rapidly evolving global field”. Devolution of the health and social care budget to Greater Manchester further opens up opportunities for greater partnership between arts and health in the region, it argues.

Rt. Hon. Lord Howarth of Newport, co-chair of the APPG on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, praised Manchester Metropolitan and Clive Parkinson, Director of Arts for Health, for their “pioneering role in the arts for health movement” during the launch event.

The inquiry report presents the findings of two years of evidence gathering, roundtables and discussions with service users, health and social care professionals, artists and arts organisations, academics, policy makers and parliamentarians from all parties and both Houses. It aims to influence Ministers and officials, the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities, healthcare staff, providers of social care, artists and arts organisations.

The launch event featured presentations from organisations leading on the arts for health agenda across Greater Manchester, including Portraits of Recovery, an arts organisation which explores the role of culture and the arts in the lives of people affected by substance misuse. This growing movement is inspired by the Recoverist Manifesto, authored by Parkinson in 2014.

Clive Parkinson, Director of Arts for Health at Manchester School of Art, said: “We were thrilled to host the public launch of this important report at Manchester Metropolitan University. Its findings are timely, and we look forward to working with national partners in driving them forward to influence policy in the months and years to come. It is good to see parliamentarians and the wider arts and health field placing the work we do at Manchester Metropolitan at the heart of this work and future developments.

“Greater Manchester is widely regarded as the birthplace of arts and health, and this publication acknowledges much of the strong work going on in the region, from arts interventions with people affected by homelessness, to exploring how we can affect a 'culture change' through arts participation, through the re-framing of addiction and recovery identities. The devolution agenda gives us a really positive opportunity to explore how culture and the arts might play a positive part in all our communities, and the evidence is clear - participation in the arts has a profound effect on people’s health and wellbeing.”