An Essential Vaccine - Cardiff (UK) AHECRN event
Blog post written by Frances Williams (AHECRN Welsh area representative)
In February, Frances Williams (AHECRN Welsh area representative) and Ellie Byrne (Research Associate for the Cultural Participation Research Network) hosted an AHECRN event at Cardiff University. The event drew a large and engaged audience of fifty people to discuss current developments in the field of Arts in Health in Wales.
Entitled, An Essential Vaccine, it brought the author of the report, Creative Health, The Arts, Health and Well-Being, Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, to speak directly to a Welsh audience. (Although a Westminster report, this nevertheless, aims for UK influence and drew on evidence and case studies based in Wales.)
Rebecca geared her talk very much for this specific audience of researchers, artists and health professionals based in Wales, illustrating her points with examples taken from Welsh contexts and highlighting the specific policy frameworks that have been pursued here. The Welsh Assembly - or Senedd - has been active in pursuing the Arts in Health agenda, with the creation of its own cross-party group, initially led by Elunud Morgan AM. Health is one of the devolved areas within the power of the Senedd. Meanwhile, Arts Council Wales (ACW) has also been busy mapping Arts in Health in Wales over the last year, with a new report due to be made public in March. Chair of ACW, Phil George, responded to the Creative Health report with enthusiasm.
He was joined by Cathy Madge, from the Well-Being of Future Generations Commission. This innovative piece of legislation came into effect in 2015 and requires that all of Welsh government assess the long-term sustainability of its policies across the board and their likely impact on well-being. In seeking greater integration across departments, Arts in Health might have a part to play, it was argued, in meeting the aims and aspirations set out here. Marmot’s concept of the 'social determinants of health' were highlighted by all and provided the basis on which discussion of the arts, more broadly, took place.
Speakers responded to questions afterwards in what was lively and animated debate between specialists in their field and a well-informed public. Rebecca pointed to specific areas for future research which might tie with ACW aspiration to create an all-Wales network, through its support of the Welsh Arts and Health Network (WAHN). As people respond to this call, development here look set to take a distinctive turn of their own, in line with other groups in England that are seeking local solution through devolution.