"A social scientist and musician, I have been a researcher in the field of arts, health and wellbeing for some years, most recently as a co-investigator on the ESRC funded What Works Wellbeing Culture and Sport Evidence Review.
I have worked closely with many local and national stakeholders in the arts and health sectors, developing frameworks and models for service evaluation and sector development. This area has received increasing attention from policy makers. When the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing was formed in 2014 I was invited to share my experience in the areas of music and health as well as project and programme evaluation. I was subsequently invited to serve as an advisor to the APPG inquiry, which was funded by Wellcome, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The two-year inquiry culminated in the publication of the recent APPG report, 'Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing'.
The scope of the inquiry was broad, with regular round table discussions and presentations at Westminster covering policy issues in health and social care, across a wide range of population groups and settings. The inquiry encompassed diverse art forms including music, dance, drama and creative writing. I observed and contributed to discussions, provided comments on the inquiry report, drafted by Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, and provided methodological input into the call for practice examples.
The secretariat for the APPG was provided by the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing in the person of Alexandra Coulter, Director of Arts and Health South West. Communication was excellent and Alex was always available to clarify and discuss issues or concerns during the inquiry process.
Through my involvement I have met many leading clinicians, artists, managers, researchers and service users with whom I have shared interests in arts, health and wellbeing. Overall, I really enjoyed being part of this process, it was an opportunity to think positively and creatively about innovative solutions, to engage in lively and respectful discourse with fascinating people and to contribute something that will hopefully be of lasting value.
The report is an impressive document, with 189 pages detailing the depth and breadth of arts and cultural engagement for wellbeing and encouraging radical thinking about new ways of addressing health and social care challenges. The launch event at Portcullis House, Westminster ,was an uplifting, celebratory occasion attended by people from all walks of life, some of whom provided moving testimony about the impact of arts in their own lives. I would certainly encourage academics to engage with Parliament in future."