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Engage International Conference 2018

Reading and listening list

For anyone interested in exploring the themes of conference prior to their arrival in Manchester in November, A Social Prescription's reading and listening list aims to create a space for resources, articles and other media related to the arts and health sector.


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What is social prescribing?
The King's Fund

'Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.'


'It's time to recognise the contribution arts can make to health and wellbeing' 
Nicola Slawson for The Guardian

'The arts help meet challenges in health and social care associated with ageing, loneliness, long-term conditions and mental health.'


Arts-based learning for a circle of care, published in The Lancet
Suzy Willson & Peter Jaye (2017) 

'Over the past 3 years, staff at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust have been offered courses that draw on ideas from theatre, dance, and the visual arts as part of a collaboration between the Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre (SaIL) and the Performing Medicine programme...'


Arts-based interventions in healthcare education, published in Medical Humanities

Magda Osman, Bella Eacott & Suzy Willson

'Healthcare education institutions are increasingly including arts-based interventions in their programmes. We analysed 62 studies of arts-based interventions to understand how these interventions may be beneficial, and why providing evidence continues to be a challenge for the field.'


Arts-based Learning in Medical Education: The Risks, in Risk and Regulation at the Interface of Medicine and the Arts: Selected Papers from the Association for Medical Humanities

Suzy Willson & A. Peterkin

'This book brings together an edited selection of presentations from the Association for Medical Humanities annual conference 2015, held at Dartington Hall, UK, that address the question: How might innovative performing arts help to develop medical education and practice? It includes papers and accounts of both keynote talks and performances, presenting cutting-edge activity, thinking and research in the medical and health humanities.'


Moving Medicine, in Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq

Suzy Willson

'As I began to investigate medical education, I came to realise that in some powerful sense, the experience of being a body had become removed from the discourse between doctors and patients, teachers and students...'


Brainscapes, Mind Masks and States of Mind, published in Interalia Magazine

Karen Ingham

'Betwixt brain and mind is a beguiling if bewildering masquerade. The interplay, between brain and mind, matter and metaphysics, our inner ‘self’ and our public visage, has been a recurring interest in my practice for over a decade.

Karen Ingham is an interdisciplinary artist-designer and filmmaker, whose primary art form is lens-based arts and hybrid craft. Her approach incorporates theory and practice, and she often works site-specifically, with major themes exploring biomedical discourse and museology.'


Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains

Valerie van Mulukom

'Imagine the director of a big company announcing an important decision and justifying it with it being based on a gut feeling. This would be met with disbelief – surely important decisions have to be thought over carefully, deliberately and rationally?

Indeed, relying on your intuition generally has a bad reputation, especially in the Western part of the world where analytic thinking has been steadily promoted over the past decades. Gradually, many have come to think that humans have progressed from relying on primitive, magical and religious thinking to analytic and scientific thinking. As a result, they view emotions and intuition as fallible, even whimsical, tools...'


Some Philosophical Musings on Food

Sylvia R. Karasu

'“Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you who you are.” So wrote the late 18th, early 19th century French essayist Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in his classic book The Physiology of Taste. Of course, it is not so simple, as David M. Kaplan explains in the introduction to his book The Philosophy of Food, (2012), “Philosophers have a long but scattered history of analyzing food…Food is vexing. It is not even clear what it is.” So predictably, says Kaplan, “There is no consensus among philosophers about the nature of food.”'




What are cultural needs and how do they relate to health and care needs?
A blog by Art in Healthcare looking at the crossover between 'cultural needs' and 'health and care needs'

"The idea of cultural need is that every human being is innately creative and will flourish when these needs are met through opportunities to engage creatively. 

Cultural needs can be met in a wide variety of ways.  The evidence of the health and wellbeing benefits of accessing the arts is one important example of how this can be achieved, particularly as some life experiences can limit, frustrate and sublimate cultural needs."


What can culture do for healthcare?
A blog by Darren Henley for Arts Council England

"Creativity in all its forms is an essential part of being human, and vital for wellbeing. More research is needed, but a series of high-quality studies are emerging which show the health benefits of cultural activities – whether that’s picking up a book, visiting a museum or joining a choir.

A recent influential Parliamentary report, Creative Health, found that one arts on prescription project administered by the charity Artlift led to a 37% drop in GP visits and a 39% reduction in hospital admissions. This produced a net saving of £216 per patient."


"The north west arts and health network is changing - flexing and evolving with the times - still with its feet firmly on the ground in the north of England, but responsive to the many international voices that get in touch. the arts should be central to contemporary society. we will share opportunities - both local and global - and offer timely responses to the cultural and political factors that perpetuate societal inequalities, which exclude people from the arts, and impact on public health."


Why I use art to cope with my rare disease
A blog by artist and doctor Shanali Perera

"Based in Manchester, I am a doctor retired due to health reasons, who started using digital medium to create art with the focus on illness experience and adaptive coping - while recovering and adjusting to living with a chronic illness. I have used digital art to transform illness experience into a more meaningful way of living, moving from practitioner to patient, after becoming a patient in my own specialty. 

My work is centred on sharing the impact digital art has on supporting me to take control and manage my long-term condition. I aim to raise awareness about creative engagement as a tool to face challenges imposed by chronic illnesses. As well as generate an interest on how expressions of the ‘lived experience’ can help health practitioners and the public gain new insights beyond patients’ illnesses.

Being a doctor and a patient, I had the opportunity to gain an unique perspective around art, healing and the illness journey. Gaining valuable insights into the patient experience. First hand experience of what losing control feels like and although I cant control my symptoms or my day, I can control what I create, which gave me a sense of achievement. Thus allowing me to regain some of that control. Establishing a sense of purpose inspires forward movement, enduring challenges of an illness. It is very useful to have a tool such as art to cope, along with other meds/therapies one takes, to help adapt and adjust to changes, which becomes a significant component in managing a long term condition."





Arts for Health

Podcasts from Clive Parkinson and other members of the Arts for Health team on a range of themes, including an audio version of their 2011 Arts and Health Manifesto.


BBC Radio 4 - Inside Health

In this episode of Inside Health, Dr Marie Polley, senior lecturer in health sciences at the University of Westminster and co-chair of the Social Prescribing Network (with Dr Michael Dixon) tells Dr Mark Porter that social prescribing will be embedded within medical and social care in the next decade as long as the voluntary sector is supported.


Everything Is Alive

Everything Is Alive is an unscripted interview show in which all the subjects are inanimate objects. In each episode, a different thing tells us its life story. 


Artists in Hospitals Toolkit

The Artists in Hospitals Toolkit brings together current knowledge about working in an NHS context in Wales as an artist, including commissioning, contracting, evaluation, and working with staff.

This toolkit was developed by members of the South Wales Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network as part of the ArtWorks Cymru Seed Fund in 2015, and was revised in 2017.


Arts and Health in Wales

In Wales, the Arts Council has been supporting activity in this field for some time. It was particularly gratifying in May 2017 to hear the Director of the Baring Foundation say that Wales ‘leads the world’ in Arts for older people. But Arts in Health work, so powerful in relation to dementia and the care home experience, is having beneficial impact across the full ranges of age, class and geography in Wales. 


Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) was formed in 2014 and aims to improve awareness of the benefits that the arts can bring to health and wellbeing. During 2015–17, the APPGAHW conducted an Inquiry into practice and research in the arts in health and social care, with a view to making recommendations to improve policy and practice. Our partners in this Inquiry have been the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, King’s College London, the Royal Society for Public Health and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. We are extremely grateful to our funders, Wellcome, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Dementia & Imagination: Research informed approaches to visual arts programmes

In 2013 and with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, the Dementia & Imagination team established a clear set of principles to underpin its visual arts research programme with people experiencing dementia in three geographical areas of the UK: North Wales, Derbyshire and Newcastle.


Insights for employers, commissioners and funders in facilitating quality impacts through participatory arts

An analysis undertaken... for Creative Scotland to capture and crystallise concepts of quality in participatory arts has pulled together evolving perspectives that, combined, embody a paradigm shift in thinking on the issue. Drawing on a number of sources including several ArtWorks studies, the analysis highlights a significant new way of approaching the tricky question of how we can get optimum quality artist interventions in participatory settings.



cARTrefu, which means to reside in Welsh, is a four year programme run by Gwanwyn which aims to improve access to quality arts experiences for older people in residential care. Between 2015 and 2017 Age Cymru recruited 16 professional artists in four different fields: Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Words and Music.


Leap of Faith

'Leap of Faith, a pioneering project at YSP, explores ways in which women who have experience of trafficking, domestic violence or mental ill health can use creative expression and equine assisted therapy to benefit wellbeing and creativity.

Responding to contemporary artist Katrina Palmer’s The Coffin Jump (2018) – a major co-commission by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and YSP – Leap of Faith reflects the courageousness of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). This extraordinary group emerged at a transformative period for women – moving out of passive domestic confinement to enter the battlefield on horseback and administer first aid – and inspired the creation of the artwork.'


Virtual Embodiments (2016-17)

'Originally Darkness Enlightened, Virtual Embodiments was an R & D collaboration with Dr. Ann John of Swansea Medical School with funding support from Arts Council Wales. Building on Dr. John’s research into youth mental health problems we worked with 18-24 year old participants who were also gamers to exploit their knowledge of digital realities and avatars to assist them in creating unique virtual versions of their negative feelings.'


Art + Care: A Future

'Art + Care: A Future is a publication that speculates on future alliances between the fields of art and elderly care. Featuring essays by key thinkers on issues of ageing and the future, and is contextualised by case studies from five years of the Serpentine Gallery's work in placing artists, designers, researchers and architects in the field of elderly care through the project Skills Exchange: Urban Transformation and the Politics of Care 2007–2012.'


Grampian Hospitals Art Trust (GHAT)

'GHAT arose from the simple idea that improving the hospital environment by displaying art made everyone who spent time in the buildings feel better. GHAT strives to highlight culture as a central component of wellbeing and is a sector leader in developing bespoke arts projects for people visiting, working or utilising the services within hospitals and healthcare.

GHAT has come a long way in the 30 years or so since that original idea was formulated, but still it is committed to expanding art for all by commissioning professional artists to deliver quality projects within challenging public settings and continuous action research within the arts and wellbeing sector.'


Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End, by Atwul Gawande

'Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.'


The Sex Clinic: Artist in Residence (for Channel 4)

'Performance artist Bryony Kimmings sets up in one of Britain's busiest sexual health clinics, creating extraordinary art pieces on dating, sexual confidence and sex work.'


Arts in Health

Daisy Fancourt

'Systematically explains how to design and deliver an arts in health intervention making it a valuable 'how to' guide arts practitioners, project managers and healthcare professionals who want to implement an arts intervention in healthcare.'


Together at the Table: Sustainability and Sustenance in the American Agrifood System

Patricia Allen

'In Together at the Table, sociologist Patricia Allen offers a timely analysis of the discourse and practices of two prominent alternative agrifood movements in the United States: sustainable agriculture and community food security.'


Sociology on the Menu: An Invitation to the Study of Food and Society

Alan Beardsworth & Teresa Keil

'This book provides a fascinating introduction to the social and cultural consequences of food and eating, from the dietary patterns of early humans to modern eating disorders. Beardsworth and Keil critically examine a range of research into the multiple social, economic, physiological, ecological and symbolic dimensions of the mundane act of eating, throughout human history.'



The Bethlem Royal Hospital in south London is the world's oldest psychiatric institution, treating patients for nearly eight centuries. Previously known as Bedlam, over the years the hospital has acquired a huge and significant collection of art and artefacts, much of it by patients. BBC News was given access to the new space to see how art can play a role in mental health and met one former patient whose work is included in the exhibition.


What do the arts have to do with medicine? Dancer and medical researcher Jill Sonke explores the important relationship between creative expression and health for patients with serious medical illness.


Dance Well is Akademi’s participatory and performance programme to improve the health and wellbeing of the general population through the medium of South Asian Dance. Akademi’s learning and participation dance artists deliver workshops and intimate performances for all ages; from young children to older adults, in a range of settings from community organisations and care homes to hospital atriums and wards. Find out more here.


The University of Manchester and The Whitworth opened up with a CPD introducing Minecraft to teachers and highlighting the many ways it can draw on disciplines linking to many subjects across the curriculum. Find out more here.


'We’ve all experienced the connection between our mind and our gut—as in the butterflies in our stomach when we’re nervous or the visceral lurching sensation that associates an upsetting discovery. While ancient healing traditions, like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, have long recognised this relationship, Western medicine has largely failed to acknowledge the mind-gut connection. Dr. Emeran Mayer, professor of medicine and executive director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, offers an inside look at this developing science, making the case for people to give more attention to their “gut feelings” and heed the signals their bodies are giving them.' 


The B Positive choir, created by NHS Blood and Transplant, is made up of people whose lives are affected by the lifesaving power of blood. Our members include blood donors and blood recipients, people who have blood related medical conditions such as sickle cell, our families, friends and people who work with blood. Find out more here.

Have you created or come across a resource, article, podcast or blog post that you think this year's conference delegates would find useful?

We're aware that there's a wealth of fantastic material out there that deserves to be added to this living resource page. If you've made or know of something that deserves to be on here get in touch with us on info@engage.org, with the subject line as 'Reading and listening list'

Engage International Conference 2018
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