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Highlighted Research

Arts Tonic - SA Creative Health Leadership Group Project

SA Creative Health Leadership Group

The Arts Tonic Series is a range of information, promotion and advocacy resources, produced by the SA Creative Health Leadership Group.  The resources provide some easy to digest facts about the value of arts and creativity to health and wellbeing - both for individuals and communities.  Each of the facts has been extracted from a peer reviewed research papers that are detailed in the e-book and can be easily accessed via links. The Arts Tonic resources are designed to appeal to a broad audience including health professionals working across the spectrum of health care, community development, arts industries and social services and can be used easily to convey the value of arts in these settings - with the evidence to back it up.

The series of postcards included within the collection cover areas including ageing, neighbourhood connections, childhood development, primary health care and general wellbeing. A poster and a downloadable E-Book that includes all the imagery and the reference material has also been created and is available via the links below. 

For more Information about the Arts Tonic Series contact Maz McGann on 0438 807 973 or 

Drawing Memories: An empowering and enjoyable aged care activity promoting confidence, independence and engagement

Margaret Rolla - University of Newcastle , Michael Dickinson - University of Newcastle , Dimity Pond - University of Newcastle

This paper is part of a larger ongoing doctoral research project titled, Art for Health's Sake. It presents the outcomes from the “Drawing Memories” program, developed and implemented with the aim of promoting quality of life indicators for elderly people in aged care. Appropriate drawing material and media choices, with their role in providing experimentation and enjoyment, was a key aspect of the professionally designed program. As a pilot study, the “Drawing Memories” program was conducted across two aged care services, both residential and community, in NSW Australia. The research questioned the useability, practicalities and therapeutic potential of various drawing media and activities designed for elderly people with diverse physical and cognitive impairments. Taking an artist's/educator's approach, the study employed a phenomenology/heuristic framework, used in conjunction with quantitative evaluation measures, to form a mixed methods enquiry into the lived experiences of the participants. The focus of this paper is on the choice of activities, materials and media and how the participants responded to them. Through the exploration of various media it was found that the participants’ confidence, independence and engagement improved while undertaking the drawing activities. An interesting outcome was the Apple iPad, rating highly in useability and enjoyment.

Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry

The Inquiry Report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, presents the findings of two years of research, evidence-gathering and discussions with patients, health and social care professionals, artists and arts administrators, academics, people in local government, ministers, other policy-makers and parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament.

Using Digital Storytelling in Participatory Research With Refugee Women

Dr Caroline Lennette

 As a researcher focusing on the health and well-being of people from refugee backgrounds, I strive for genuinely participatory research approaches, and digital storytelling represents one creative and useful way to achieve this aim. Digital stories are short narratives combining images, videos, or music, and a voiceover about one’s particular experiences. I draw on my experiences undertaking a visual ethnographic project with a small group of single refugee women with children in Brisbane, Australia, to discuss some of the intricacies of using visual based research methods in this context. There are many benefits of using digital storytelling as a research method in health contexts. Essentially, the major advantage relates to giving participants the opportunity to shape the research process and content in ways that are beneficial to them, hence facilitating a sense of agency. Researchers are mere facilitators in this participant-driven process. Concurrently, the use of this method also implies extensive time and energy so that the process is supportive and beneficial to participants, and researchers should always remain genuinely concerned about ensuring that the story that is told fits with participants’ aspirations. Another consideration involves assessing key ethical concerns that are unique to the use of digital storytelling and warrants further reflection on the part of researchers. I conclude by offering some thoughts about the nature of genuine or meaningful participation in health and well-being research to ensure that, rather than being a tokenistic notion, participation remains a central concern of the digital storytelling process from beginning to end.

"They Change Us" The social and emotional impacts on music facilitators of engaging in music and singing with asylum seekers.

Dr Caroline Lenette , Brian Procopis - Scattered People

The literature on the social and emotional wellbeing of community musicians who engage with marginalised groups with complex mental health issues such as refugees, is relatively scarce. The Scattered People is a collective of volunteer musicians, music facilitators, and community development workers who engage, through musical activities, with asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced detention in Australia. This discussion focuses on key examples of social and emotional distress for community music facilitators through their interactions with asylum seekers. The community musicians explained the circumstances that had significant impacts on their wellbeing in terms of (i) their engagement with people in a detention centre, and (ii) the happiness and concerns linked to the asylum seekers they came across. Our paper presents the second author’s reflections on two songs from the Scattered People repertoire, which were created and performed as the embodiment of these social and emotional impacts. Our aim is to ensure that this important aspect of community music, which has been thus far neglected, receives more attention.

University of New South Wales Arts and Social Sciences Faculty 


NSW Health and the Arts Framework

NSW Department of Health

In 2016 the NSW Health Department appointed a Ministerial Taskforce to develop the NSW Health and the Arts Framework.  The document aims to improve the health of the community through integrating the arts into design and delivery of health services and public health messaging.   Further details can be found via this link 

Examination of the Use of the Arts to Improve Health and Healing in Western Australian Hospitals

Prepared by Kim Gibson and Liesbeth Goedhart for the WA Arts and Health Consortium

The first Consortium project sought to map and measure the current level of engagement, support and investment by WA hospitals in Arts and Health activities in order to better understand the extent to which the arts are contributing to the delivery of health services in Western Australian (WA) hospitals and to the health and wellbeing of patients, their families, visitors and staff.

There is a significant, global body of work on Arts and Health. This report draws on that evidence as well as the National Arts and Health Framework to develop a local approach for the West Australian context. In particular, this report aims to assist hospitals and arts organisations with future strategies to engage more effectively with each other in developing Arts and Health practice in WA consistent with the National Framework.


Other Research Papers

The Language of Leadership

Helentherese Good , Developed as part of a the Churchill Trust of Australia Fellowship

What’s it like to be a fly on the wall in the rehearsal halls and board rooms of some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras? Helentherese Good, a violinist, knows, because she spent the early months of 2016 observing and talking with dozens of successful musicians and administrators across Europe, the US and the UK. For the first time ever, work practices of unconducted ensembles have been compared in one study which forms a best practice guide to effective rehearsal, innovative performance and deep public connection. The paper gathers proven and practical tips for any group wishing to improve and develop while enriching their broader community; and will be an undoubted source of useful information for performers across the world. Uniquely written from a performer’s perspective, Ms Good’s findings include: 

  • Top tips for effective rehearsals
  • Communication techniques to end those interpersonal relationship blues.
  • Creative plans to engage experienced and new audiences.
  • And a step-by-step guide to building a community presence across education, social welfare and health sectors.

Arts for health and wellbeing - An evaluation framework

Public Health England, The University of Winchester, Aesop - Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose

This document provides guidance on appropriate ways of documenting the impacts of arts for health and wellbeing, whether through small scale project evaluations or large scale research studies. It suggests a standard framework for reporting of project activities that will strengthen understanding of what works in specific contexts and enable realistic assessment and appropriate comparisons to be made between programmes.

Playsongs and Lullabies: features of emotional communication

Alison Liew Creighton

My project aims to increase an understanding of how playsongs and lullabies facilitate emotional communication and contribute positively to the mother-infant relationship. Multiple facets will be examined including the (1) behavioural features of various dimensions or qualities of musical interaction, (2) musical features associated to various dimensions of interaction, (3) subjective/personal experience of singing songs and (4) physiological (via heart rate) features of interaction.

Alison Liew Creighton from University of Western Sydney

The Role of the Modern Curator in Hospital

Hilary Moss



The arts play a significant role in every society and culture, from the earliest societies to modern life. However, in healthcare settings, there is often an absence of normal access to the arts and hospitals can arguably be described as aesthetically deprived environments [1, 2]. Recent studies indicate a neglect of the aesthetic environment by hospital policy makers and a lack of access to and control of aesthetic interests for patients in hospital [3-5]. The importance, or not, attached to the role of the arts in healthcare can be viewed as a split between politicians and policy makers who value the ‘instrumental value’ of the arts, and cultural professionals who are dedicated to the ‘intrinsic value’ of the arts. Hospital Curators, or Arts Managers, are a relatively recent phenomenon, whereby the arts are introduced in hospitals to address both the intrinsic value of the arts in the public space of hospital as well as to meet certain health promotion or clinical aims. The role of the curator in hospitals is a particularly complicated one, given the pressure for evidence based practice to fund any healthcare activity and the constraints on spending within tight health budgets. The subjective nature of the experience of art in hospital, and the many stakeholders, contribute to the delicate role played by hospital arts managers and curators. O’Neill proposes that the key issue for curators is not actually the conflict between instrumental and intrinsic values, but how expert arts curators make their specialist contribution while at the same time fostering the wellbeing all in the hospital.

Visual Embodiment of Psychosis: Ethical Concerns in Performing Difficult Experiences

Katherine M. Boydell - Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, Carmela Solimine - The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Siona Jackson - Dance Choreographer, Toronto

Abstract:  Arts-based health research has increased dramatically in recent years. Many academics are collaborating across disciplines including health and social sciences, humanities and the arts. Using artistic modes of research representation allows for a different way of participating and may enhance the likelihood of making an impact (negative or positive) on the audience and, consequently, on artists and researchers. This paper focuses on the concept of ‘dangerous emotional terrain’, used to describe the potential negative impacts of using the arts, in this case dance, in research dissemination. We focus on a seldom-explored area – the impact on artists embodying research results of difficult lived experiences. The potential for harm to performers engaging in arts-based research requires consideration. Actors and other artists and their experiences of depicting suffering and pain, for example, remain relatively unexplored. What are our responsibilities to performers taking on this role? What are the ethical implications of engaging in such work? This paper explores these questions and identifies four strategies to tackle emotional impact: reflexive practice, creation of a safe and supportive environment, address issues of audience, and focus on balance between types of performance, and between work and home.

Reflecting upon the value of Arts & Health & a new approach for the East Midlands 2011-2013

Derbyshire Community Health Services, Leicester City Primary Care NHS Trust, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

This document has been produced within a wide ranging partnership. The following organisations based within the region were at the core of this partnership:

  • Big Difference Company
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services
  • Leicester City Primary Care NHS Trust
  • Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

In addition, Managers in Partnership (MiP), the national trade union for healthcare managers, has supported the project.
Much of the work within this document has centred on the geographical areas covered by those NHS organisations listed above; however contributions have come from across the East Midlands Region and beyond.

Without these contributions this document could not have been produced.

This partnership would also like to thank following individuals:

Dr. Clive Parkinson (Manchester Metropolitan University), Marisa Howes (MiP), Carole Devaney (NHS Leicester City), Jane Tuxworth (Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust), Kay Bradley (Derbyshire Community Health Services), Geoff Rowe (Big Difference Company), Anna Peavitt (Big Difference Company), Maya Biswas (Big Difference Company) Ashley Scattergood (Big Difference Company), Tim Sayers, Lydia Towsey (both Brightsparks) Alison Bowry (High Peak Community Arts), Gaynor Nash, Glenis Willmott MEP, Paddy Casswell (Glenis Willmott MEP’s Office), Jane Millum (EMPAF), Alex Gymer (Cave Consulting), Vince Atwood (Soft Touch), Christina Wigmore (Soft Touch), Jacob Wesley (Soft Touch), Theo Stickley (University of Nottingham) and many others for their professional and moral support.

Arts, Health and Wellbeing. Personal Reflections and Political Perspectives

Lord Howarth of Newport

This keynote address was presented by Lord Howarth of Newport, at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference  in Bristol (June 2013). This address is a comprehensive overview  of the development of the UK  arts and health sector  and its current status. More importantly it  presents an eloquent and intellectually rigorous approach to the  contemporary political tensions  that impact on our attitudes to social capital and the effects it has on healthcare delivery.

Arts & Health Research Summary – Part 1

Helen Zigmond

Prepared by Helen Zigmond for The Institute for Creative Health .

Current Arts and Health Sector overview, key organisations and websites: Annotated bibliography by Helen Zigmond.

Arts & Health Research Summary – Part 2

Helen Zigmond

Prepared by Helen Zigmond for The Institute for Creative Health .

A collection of research studies on Arts and Health.

BrightHearts: Evaluating Interactive Art as a tool

Dr Angie Morrow

Dr George Khut and Dr Angie Morrow are undertaking research to design and evaluate the efficacy of a heart-rate controlled interactive (biofeedback) artwork to assist in the management and reduction of pain and anxiety experienced by children undergoing painful, recurrent clinical procedures.

Dr Angie Morrow from University of Technology Sydney

Interactive Music Technology for Distraction, Entertainment and Well-being for Hospitalised Young People

Samantha Ewart from University of Western Sydney

The PhD will investigate the ways in which patients within a hospital environment can be distracted from boredom and contribute to there overall well-being during their hospital stay. This will be achieved through an interactive digital music-making device. Collaboration on system design will occur through workshops that explore individual needs for patients. We hope that the devices which we collaborate, create and modify that the patients will continue to develop and achieve positive outcomes.

Place, matter and meaning: Extending the relations

Patricia Fenner from La Trobe University

Discourse in psychotherapeutic practice has typically focussed on technique and the therapeutic relationship. The setting in which psychological therapies occur has attracted little research attention to date. What we have understood as relationship may need to be expanded to include aspects of the material environment as constitutive in the dynamic process of psychotherapy.

The Role of Art Making in Mental Health

Theresa Van Lith

The aim of this report was to advance understandings of the relationship between art making and mental health recovery. A variety of research methods were used including: an in-depth review of the literature, an audit of current arts-based programs provided in the two participating psychosocial rehabilitation organisations, in-depth interviews of both staff and consumers, and development of a conceptual framework that integrated the findings from these varied methods. The study created a rich account of the different roles that art making plays in mental health recovery. In doing this, it has held to the basic principles of the recovery movement and privilege of the consumer voice.

Theresa Van Lith from La Trobe University
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