Ok... let's backtrack. What is Arts For Health?
Here's what Public Health England have to say:
"The arts have great potential to contribute to integrated,
person-centred, health and social care. Music, dance, visual arts
and writing are used to support health and wellbeing in a wide
variety of settings. Arts are used for prevention, to support
independent living and to meet the physical, mental and social
needs of increasing numbers of people requiring long-term care.
The role of the arts as a public health resource is beginning to be
more widely understood (Clift, 2012).
So what is an Arts For Health Professional?
In 2020 I was fortunate enough to become the recipient of the
Arts Council's 'Developing Your Creative Practise' grant. I received a chunk of money that enabled me to develop myself as a Singing For Wellbeing Practitioner.
I told the Arts Council I wanted to:
- Have a mentor to coach me through some self development work and help me to grow the systems and governance for Holistic Harmonies that would be needed if the business was to expand. Gilly became my sounding board - someone who would boost my confidence and give me pep talks before big meetings... basically a cheerleader!
The first thing she challenged me on was the title I'd given myself; Singing For Wellbeing Practitioner. I thought it sounded pretty snazzy... but she put it to me that I'm not just practising what I do... I'm a professional at it. I'm earning a living through it and I'm joining both my skills in the arts, and my experience in the health world together. The words 'arts' and 'health' seem to have more gravitas - and we are definitely at the forefront of a new sector being born. There will be loads of Arts For Health Professionals in years to come (I mean, it's been around for years, but only just being recognized as an actual career now).
- Have a salary which would pay for me to go to meetings/seminars/webinars with other Arts For health Professionals. I became a member of the Singing For Health Network and I joined meetings with the National Centre For Creative Health, The National Academy for Social Prescribing and the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance. I realised that there is so much research being done in this area, and became really inspired by Dr Dave Camlin, who is incredibly passionate about Group Singing and the benefits it can have for
- To offer taster sessions and presentations with Social Prescribing Teams, GP's, Mental Health teams, Commissioners, Unions and other local organisations in order to demonstrate what Singing For Wellbeing is (once you feel it, you can't unfeel it!).
Here I am leading a song after presenting to Knowsley Council and the One Knowsley team:
- To have some consultancy with other businesses across the country working intergenerationally using music and movement to support health and wellbeing. I connected with Intergenerational Music Making and The Together Project who are a little bit ahead of the game than I am and I asked them all about how they'd created their services.
- To study choir arranging and songwriting to enhance my skills as a singing leader.
- To do a singing course with Susie Ro Prater to strengthen my voice as an instrument... if I'm going to be singing for a job, then I need to look after it and protect it from damage!
So come on.... What is an Arts For Health Professional?
I can practise what I preach because I feel the benefits of singing and dancing on my own mental health. I have spent the last 20 years of my life honing my skills across both of these sectors in the millions (a bit hyperbolic, I know, but it feels like that!) of different jobs and experiences I've had.
I am really making headway into embedding my own practise, values and beliefs into my work, and building up a track record which is being recognized across the Liverpool City Region. I think the proof is in the pudding.... I started out by making the calls; now I'm the one receiving them - "Hello, I've heard about the work you're doing and was wondering if you might come and demonstrate what you do with my team?"