Sunday, 18 February 2018

Arts and Health - Exchange & Mart

Hold on to your hats, here's another completely free North West Arts & Health Network event!

What's all this? - another free event - and with a 100% genuine guarantee that there'll be no - absolutely no - arts and health free-marketeers taking your hard-earned cash. This is all about the people that drive social change, those who work in the field - artists, health and social care workers, volunteers and people who 'use' services. In short - the people who are part of this arts and health community because of their commitment and vision - those who see the bigger picture from a place of experience.

Arts for Health is partnering with the Greggs* and the University of Life to present the umpteenth North West Arts and Health Suitcase! It will take place on Thursday 19 April 2018 at the Manchester School of Art. But just what's in the suitcase? - well, let's wait and see!

For now - and still keeping hold of your hats - let's think what we might be able to offer each other, and maybe what we need. What skills we have, what passions we are pursuing and even what resources we could share, or need. You might be bursting with ideas, that others could support you with. Individually and collectively - we've so much to learn from each other - and even more potential.

And this isn't about us trying to do things 'on the cheap' - on the contrary - it's about us thinking and doing things differently, gathering momentum and nurturing new possibilities.

Booking and much, much more very soon...

*denotes gibberish, but you must admit it got you hungry and kept you reading! Alas, there'll be no food, but I may push the boat out and get us some drinks! Plus I've tried to fit this event in at the end of the day, so most people that have daytime commitments, might be able to come along...

Liberace's first all singing and dancing music & health celebrity showtime

Grants to engage young people & adults in science & arts in the North West of England
Organisations (preferably with charitable status) based in the north-west of England are invited to approach the Granada Foundation with imaginative proposals for projects that will encourage and promote the study, practice and appreciation of science and the arts. The Foundation aims to make the region a richer and more attractive place in which to live and work. Currently, applications from projects that will engage and inspire people of all ages to take an interest in science are particularly welcome. Preference is given to new projects; festivals and other annual events are supported but there is no guarantee of year on year support. The Advisory Council of the Foundation meets to consider applications three times a year and the next closing date for applications is the 29th March 2018. Read more HERE.  

Grants to help new, innovative visual arts projects 
The Elephant Trust has announced the next deadline for applications is the 3rd April 2018. The Trust offers grants to artists and for new, innovative visual arts projects. It aims to make it possible for artists and those presenting their work to undertake and complete projects when confronted by lack of funds. The Trust supports projects that develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the fine arts. Priority is given to artists and small organisations and galleries making or producing new work or exhibitions. The Trust normally awards grants of up to £2,000, but larger grants of up to £5,000 may be considered. Read more HERE. 

Masonic Charitable Foundation Community Support Grants 
Registered charities in England and Wales can apply for funding to the Masonic Charitable Foundation's Community Support Grants Scheme. Funding is available for projects to:
Tackle financial hardship
Improve the lives of those affected by poor physical and/or mental health and wellbeing
Provide educational and employment opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people
Tackle social exclusion and disadvantage.
Charities can apply for large grants of £5,000 and above or for small grants of between £500 and £5,000. The next closing date for applications to the small grants programme is the 23rd February 2018. For large grants programme it is the 25th May 2018. If applying for a Large Grant, applicants must first submit a Grant Enquiry Form.  The deadline for submitting the Grant Enquiry form is the 4th May 2018. Read more HERE, or by clicking on those Masonic Women above!

What A Life!

And in our series of occasional films to mark the the 70th anniversary of the NHS, this week we present: What A Life!

British Public Information Films (1949)
Director: Michael Law
Sponsor: Central Office of Information

"This Richard Massingham film is a bizarre contribution from the Crown Film Unit, and addresses the challenges Britain faced in the austere post-war era. Wartime enthusiasm and self-confidence had become seriously eroded by the crisis-laden year of 1947.  Domestically, the continuation of rationing, including for the first time bread (between 1946-48) and the fuel and economic crises, together with Indian independence, 1947 was largely a year that dented the immediate post war assurances.

Although the wartime Lend-Lease agreement had enabled Britain to continue its struggle against the Axis Powers alone, it gave the misleading appearance of the nation as a first-rank power. In the immediate post war years it gradually became hard to understand how as a winning power, head of a great empire, second only to USA in influence, became so austere and destitute.

The film has no obvious point beyond, as the British Film Institute pointed out, displaying Massingham's fondness for black humour and parodying along the way that familiar complaint, "the country is going to the dogs!" In fact this film caused some controversy in Parliament.  On 15 February 1949, the Conservative MP for Twickenham, Edward Keeling asked the President of the Board of Trade in the House of Commons. "Has the Lord President seen this film? Does he know that it shows two men so depressed by the conditions of life the in England today that they try to drown themselves, but make a mess of it? Does he really think that this is the sort of film on which £9,000 of taxpayers' money should be spent?" "


Sunday, 11 February 2018

...we've only just begun

What on earth is this all about, I hear you cry? Maxine versus Maggie? Well, for those of you who came along to the North West Arts & Health Network event at Manchester School of Art on Tuesday, you'll know it's an extract from the film Maxine Peake very kindly recorded for us in which she highlighted Manchester's radical past and potent future. Full notes on the day and an edit of the film will be uploaded onto this blog very soon. For now - my biggest thanks to all of those who came and contributed - not least Maxine Peake and Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt. Expect more, much more, very soon - we've only just begun.

Arts Council England new funding programme for the arts 
From 1st March 2018 the Grants for the Arts fund will become Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants.  Project Grants is a new open access programme for arts and museum projects and for arts projects in and with libraries. A budget of £97.3 million per year means that funding will be available to support museums and libraries and offer more support to creative and digital media projects.  The fund will also continue to help support thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations. Some aspects of the Strategic Touring and Ambition for Excellence funds will be absorbed into Project Grants, with £14 million per year reserved to support nationally significant and national touring projects of over £100,000. The new programme, Project Grants, will open at 10am on Monday 5th March 2018. Further details and new application guidance will be published on the Arts Council England website in mid-February. Read more HERE. 

Rosa Awards Grants to promote gender equality 
Rosa, a charitable fund set up to support initiatives that benefit women and girls in the UK, has awarded grants totalling £36,450 to 20 projects across the UK through the second round of the Voices from the Front-Line programme. The programme aims to support women at the front of the fight for gender equality. Funding of between £500 and £2,000 is available to support projects that will increase the skills, capacity and credibility of women who wish to challenge gender inequality and promote awareness and change. The next round of Voices from the Front Line will re-open for applications on the 24th April 2018. The closing date will be the 15th June 2018. Read more HERE.  

British Public Information Films
As the NHS enters its 70th Year, the North West Arts & Health Network brings you an occasional series of films suitable to mark the anniversary of our National Health Service and the Welfare State. This weeks little ditty is Your Very Good Health, made in 1948 by Halas & Batchelor for the Central Office of Information for the Ministry of Health.

Henry Smith Charity: Improving Lives Grant Programme 
The Henry Smith Charity provides grants of between £20,000 and £60,000 per year for up to three years to charitable organisations that help people when other sources of support have failed, are inappropriate, or are simply not available. Grants can cover running costs, salaries and project costs for organisations that can demonstrate a track record of success and evidence the effectiveness of their work. Eligible organisations include charities and not-for-profit organisations (including social enterprises) in the UK with a turnover of £50,000 - £2million (in exceptional circumstances up to £5million). Applications can be submitted at any time and decisions are usually made within 6 months. Read more HERE. 

Saturday, 27 January 2018


Thank you to all of those who came along to HOME on Tuesday to be part of the Harmonic Oscillator and Critical Care. The book is available in 1/200 limited edition from the HOME bookshop, or online in the UK here and in Australia here. It’s been a profound journey and my personal thanks to those who’ve enabled us to create our work and share the stories behind it all. To all those who enabled us to share and develop including HOME, TATE Liverpool, Socialiniai Meno Projektai, The Big Anxiety Festival, Culture Health & Wellbeing International Conference and everyone at Alder Hey - thank you. To Jane R, Vicky C and to Vic who made it all possible - the biggest thank you.
To Emma and Elisha - words fail me this time.

Here’s a song to break up the blog!

Culture & the Arts as Social Determinants of Health
For those of you eager to attend the next North West Arts & Health Network event on 6th February - and if you’ve expressed an interest - I’ll be sending place confirmations out on Tuesday 30th. I have way more people than I can accommodate (sorry) and preference will be given to those from the region. You can read the details HERE, but the draft agent and timings will be emailed out on Tuesday. 

…and hot on the tail of Creative Health for those of you who doubted the value of the arts, here’s a systematic review of evidence around the impact of the visual arts on mental health and wellbeing. Phew it’s a relief to find out that the arts have some value on our psychic terrain. Who's have thunk it?

Visual arts, mental health & wellbeing: evidence review 
This review looks at the subjective, or self-reported, wellbeing outcomes of visual arts projects aimed at adults who are experiencing, or have experienced, diagnosed mental health conditions. The visual arts practices featured in the studies included forms of painting or drawing, art appreciation with selected art forms, artmaking culminating in an exhibition, and more general creative and craft activities that included visual artefacts such as ceramics or sculpture.
Overall, the evidence available in this review shows that engaging in the visual arts for adults with mental health conditions can: reduce reported levels of depression and anxiety: increase self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem
encourage and stimulate re-engagement with the wider, everyday social world: support in participants a potential re-negotiation of identity through practice-based forms of making or doing.
You can download a briefing and the full report by clicking on the sign with the sharp edges - but be careful.

Funding for creatives in England to build links with another country
Hoping to expand your international horizons? Apply to the Artists’ International Development Fund, an initiative from the British Council and Arts Council England to help artists and creative practitioners develop skills and collaborate internationally. Read more HERE.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Pigs (Three Different Ones)

Please note that our events on January 23rd and February 6th are oversubscribed and I’ll be in touch with everyone who’s expressed an interest in attending the event on the 6th, over the coming week. 

The social impact of participation in culture and sport inquiry
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee 

A new inquiry has been launched. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is to investigate ways in which taking part in the arts, cultural activities and sport can have a positive impact on health, community and education.

Participation in culture and sport has a proven link to a wide range of benefits. The Committee is expected to focus on five major themes, taking evidence on social mobility, health, crime reduction, education, community engagement and diversity. The legacy of the Olympics may also be considered as part of the inquiry. 
The Committee is keen to hear from specific case studies of success. There is no single cross-Government strategy of support for this work – alongside funding from Arts Council England and other government bodies, projects are largely run by charities and private organisations. Often projects are delivered in isolation rather than in partnership with public bodies which could extend their reach and influence. The inquiry would seek to draw the Government’s attention to the importance of these activities and ‘join up’ currently separated departmental efforts. Full details are available HERE.

TIME at ARC Gallery
An exhibition of Art by Simone Frater-Russell & Nerissa Cargill Thompson
TIME is an exhibition of textiles, print and photography by Manchester-based artists Simone Frater-Russell and Nerissa Cargill-Thompson. Click HERE to find out more. 

Royal Liverpool University Hospital
The new Royal Liverpool University Hospital looks have a thriving arts scene developing, with a stunning immersive work by Luke Jerram as a tribute to organ and tissue donation. You can read more about this, and work developed with the Chronic Fatigue Service by clicking HERE.

The artwork by Luke Jerram celebrates, remembers and gives thanks to the generosity of organ and tissue donors and their families. On display in the main reception area of the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Tribute is due to be unveiled when the new hospital opens. The artwork consists of a spiralling tower of wood with dichroic windows, etched with personal stories from organ and tissue donors, recipients and their families. Visitors will be able to sit or stand inside the artwork to contemplate the stories and experience the infinite reflections created by the mirrored ceiling and floor. Click HERE for more information on his work.

SICK! Festival is offering a small number of Catalyst Commissions of between £2,000 - £6,000 for early- to mid-career UK-based artists to develop new works of contemporary performance and dance that resonates with the festival’s thematic interests for presentation as part of SICK! Festival in March 2019.
We are interested in works that reflect the physical, mental and social challenges that we face in our individual and collective lives.  We would particularly welcome applications dealing with areas that have seen limited attention in the arts including addiction, eating disorders, motherhood / fatherhood, abortion, shame, self-harm and cancer. More information HERE. 
Closing date Monday 12th February 2018.

FREE 3 day TRAINING for Addiction and Recovery-related Health & Social Care Workers
26, 27 & 28 February, Brighton, 9.30am - 4pm
Delivered by Portraits of Recovery in collaboration with Cascade Creative Recovery, this is a three day programme. Full details HERE.

SICK! Festival are delighted to be joining Arts Council England’s National Portfolio from April 2018. As we embark on an exciting, ambitious new phase in the organisation’s growth, we are seeking a new Marketing and Communications Director to join the team in Manchester.
The Marketing and Communications Director will lead all areas of marketing, communications and audience development, creating and developing strategy as well as ensuring successful delivery. 
Deadline for application is 9am on Monday 5 February 2018. More information HERE.

The Leche Trust

The Leche Trust's main grants programme supports projects in two areas: performing arts and conservation. Trustees will consider grants up to £5,000. In 2017 they awarded 83 grants totalling £172,400. The average grant was £2,077. Applicants must be UK registered charities, public authorities or public institutions. Applications are not accepted from Community Interest Companies (CICs) or individuals. 
Performing Arts: The Trustees support projects that promote excellence in professional performance in music, dance and theatre, with particular emphasis on new work and on the development of young professionals aged 18 or over. Trustees are sympathetic to projects that widen geographical access to the performing arts, for example through festivals and touring.

Deadlines: The deadlines for applications for the meetings in 2018 are:
Friday 20 April for the June 2018 meeting,
Friday 17 August for the October 2018 meeting.
For full details on eligibility and how to apply, please click HERE. 

£1 Million available to support good causes 
Wesleyan, the specialist financial mutual, aims to give up to £1 million a year to good causes throughout the UK. Every quarter Wesleyan invites its customers and supporters of the chosen causes to vote for the cause they would most like to support. The more votes a cause gets, the bigger the share of support it receives. The Foundation supports both local community groups and charities nationwide. Its four core themes are:
Social development
Read more HERE. 

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021

Off the back of their winning bid, Coventry City of Culture Trust now wishes to appoint a Creative Director to move the project forward to the next stage.
Salary circa £100,000 to £125,000 + benefits.  Fixed term contract to April 2022. Closing date: 2 March 2018.
Tasks include the overall management of UK City of Culture programming, co-curation, community engagement, capacity building and development of national and regional partnerships.  The successful candidate will be an inspiring leader and programmer or curator of arts festivals and events with at least 5 years’ experience gained in a similar role of similar responsibility and complexity. Full details are HERE.  

In Other News......two boated self-styled eugenicists have hit the headlines. MP Ben Bradley has been appointed Conservative vice for youth  - and  Toby Young has bowed to public pressure and resigned from The Office for Students.

Both men are apologists for their youthful comments, but it's difficult to believe they don't still hold the same vaues. In short Bradley's blog (see image above) was tagged with keywords including “chavs” and “wasters” and in short, called for 'the unemployed' to have vasectomies. Here's a taste:
"It’s horrendous that there are families out there that can make vastly more than the average wage, (or in some cases more than a bloody good wage) just because they have 10 kids {...} Sorry but how many children you have is a choice; if you can’t afford them, stop having them! {...}vasectomies are free."

Toby Young has a well-honed pedigree for his breed of provocations and self-publicity and he wrote in a conservative Australian journal only two years ago, “My proposal is this: once this technology [genetically engineered intelligence] becomes available, why not offer it free of charge to parents on low incomes with below-average IQs?” to address “the problem of flat-lining inter-generational social mobility.” 

Great to see this conjoining or politics and free speech...


Monday, 1 January 2018

Culture & the Arts as Social Determinants of Health

A Happy New Year to you
...First things first - I hope that 2018 will be positive in so many ways for you personally, and to our arts and health community.

Vic McEwan
Just two things for this New Years Day posting - one, there are just a handful of places for the free event at HOME on the 23rd January. This is an opportunity to hear from Vic McEwan about his time in residence at Alder Hey Children's Hospital and the superb Harmonic Oscillator. I'll be launching a book about his work and sharing some of my observations about contemporary social arts practice. So click HERE if you want to come along.

I am very excited to announce that the brilliant Maxine Peake will be contributing to our follow-up event to the Creative Health launch which we held at the Manchester School of Art in July. Why Maxine Peake? When I told her about our field of research and practice, and our belief that culture and the arts in all their forms, should not be the sole preserve of the great and the good - she committed herself to being part of this agenda. She is a dynamic actor, with deep integrity and I'm thrilled that she wants to be a part of our bigger cultural conversation. So it's an exciting and evolving agenda and you'll see some detail below, including a link to eventbrite to express your interest in attending. I've had to do it this way, so as to prioritise people from our region, and ensure a diverse range of people on the day. It will be a busy event, so register promptly.

Finally, we are not interested in the grandiose gestures of self-styled venture philanthropists hell-bent on the standardisation and packaging up of cultural activity into an insipid blanket prescription for all life’s ills, but beginning a more difficult and nuanced exploration around inequalities, social justice and just how culture and the arts might be a significant factor in healthy lives well lived. So below are some brief details
, with more on eventbrite.

Culture & the Arts as Social Determinants of Health
With special guests Maxine Peake and Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt
This is a free North West Arts & Health Network event exploring cultural participation as a social determinant of individual and communal health.

When: 6th February between 11:00 - 15:00
Where: Manchester School of Art
Register interest HERE

In 2017 Arts for Health hosted the public launch of Creative Health - the report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health & Wellbeing - at the Manchester School of Art. The report was researched and written by former Arts for Health Research Associate, Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt who will be unpicking elements of the report which focused down on the factors that influence our health. These are the social determinants of health.

We are thrilled that the actor Maxine Peake will frame our event and thinking around experiences of the arts in relation to inequalities and social justice, encouraging us to think more widely about the potency of culture and the arts to transform lives and instigate social change.

In 2019 and 2020 Manchester will host the World Healthcare Congress (Europe) and arts and health will be a core strand of these two large-scale international events, which will be led by Clive Parkinson and Esme Ward. We hope that this event on 6th February might begin to inform elements of these conference strands, reinforcing the place and potential of culture and the arts as a social movement that influences health and social change. 

This event on the 6th February additionally aims: 

To inspire and develop new ways of thinking and working together
To interrogate the recommendations made in Creative Health 
To galvanise our community
You have three weeks to express your interest in attending this event and places will be allocated on Tuesday 30th January. The agenda is subject to change and other contributions to the event are being planned. 

Priority will be given to people with lived experience and those whose work is focused on arts and health activity, research and development in the North West of England.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017


This blogger will be signing out until the start of January, but small moments may float on and off the blog over the coming weeks…

For now:
Save the Date 23rd January 2018
The Harmonic Oscillator with Vic McEwan and Clive Parkinson
Where: HOME - Manchester
Tickets and details: HERE

Save the Date 6th February 2018 

Creative Health Revisited: Culture and the Arts as Social Determinants of Health
Where: The Manchester School of Art
Want to be involved? Want to register your interest in sharing your work? Just want to attend?
Email a short and sweet message to and remember, priority is given to those in the North West and particularly those with strong grass-roots experience.

Save the Date 5th - 7th March 2019
Advanced notice of the World Health Congress (Europe) 2019/2020.
I am very pleased to let you know that over 2019/20 Manchester Central will be holding the World Healthcare Congress - and that I am proud to be working alongside the Whitworth’s Esme Ward, and together we'll be curating a dedicated arts and health theme for both of these, three day conferences.

This is huge in terms of arts and health connecting into mainstream global health events, and offers us a unique opportunity. 
Greater Manchester leads the way in the development of arts and health: its influence has international reach. From small-scale projects and multidisciplinary research, to systemic cultural change and a history of radical thinking, we believe in doing it differently. 

Participation in culture and the arts has the potential to enrich life experience, public health and human potential. This conference theme will interrogate the arts as a social determinant of health. Greater Manchester will act as the incubator to this global conversation and 
I'll share a lot more on this as our planning unfolds.

YAWN As the arts and health community begins some great shifts and changes, 2018 looks all set to be a spectacular year - a mix of bun-fights and enlightenment - and more on that very, very soon.

I see too, that Arts Council England has welcomed Elizabeth Murdoch into its National Council as the former head of Sky Networks established a £1.5 million fund for young visual artists. This is certainly one to watch. I can just imagine those tap-dancing venture philanthropists, champing at the bit to get her involved with their personal pet projects! All we can do, in the words of our Strictly Hosts, is - Keep Dancing!

...and finally As my research leave draws to a close, I extend my warmest thanks to all those people in the US who’ve shown an interest in Arts for Health and my evolving research focusing explicitly on inequalities and social justice. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with you, and to Carrie McGee particularly - my warmest thanks.

To friends old and new, my very best things for 2018 and all that is ahead of us…  ☁︎

Monday, 11 December 2017


A pause to think of all the people called Mark - known, unknown, family and friends.

Then - a number of funding opportunities for those who work with children and young people...

Funding to support the core costs of youth organisations
Not for profit youth organisations that support young people (aged 14 - 25) facing disadvantage can apply for grants of between 10,000 and £60,000 through the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Youth Fund. The funding is available for up to two-years and will support the core operating costs of the applicant organisation. Examples of what can be funded include part-funding the salary of a key individual. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and up to 30 awards a year will be granted through this fund. Read more HERE. 

Helping Hand: youth project funding from #iwill 

Go Think Big are offering 10 grants of up to £500 to young people who have good ideas for projects that use volunteering as a way of boosting their own skills and experience and those of their peers. The Helping Hand Youth Project Initiative encourages young people aged 15 - 24 to make a difference to their communities by getting involved in a wide range of activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering. The deadline for applications is Sunday 31st December 2017. Read more HERE. 

Funding for projects that use the arts & media to address the concerns of children
Not-for-profit organisations in the UK that are working with children and young people using the arts and creative media can apply for funding of up to £50,000 through the Ragdoll Foundation's Open Grants Programme. The Ragdoll Foundation's vision is to support projects where the concerns of childhood can be heard. Organisations can apply for both one-off short-term projects and for projects lasting up to three years. Preference will be given to those projects which have a deep commitment to listening to children and allow the perceptions and feelings of children themselves to be better understood. The Foundations is mainly interested in applications that involve children during their early years, but appropriate projects for older children (up to 18 years) will also be considered. Whilst the Foundation will fund work in and around London, they will prioritise projects taking place elsewhere in the UK. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Read more HERE.