Creativity and Wellbeing Week London – A festival of Arts in Health
June sees one of the busiest times in the calendar for the arts in heath world. Each year, early in the month a huge festival takes place over 6 days offering the opportunity to explore the impact and richness that the arts brings to our lives. The London Arts in Health Forum’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week Festival is diverse and covers exhibitions of visual arts, performances, participatory events as well as lectures. Rich in culture, each event is an opportunity to discover the impact the arts has on not just our own individual health but also the health of the wider community. From small beginnings in 2011, this was initially just a small-scale festival but one that has grown rapidly over the last six years. Armed with evidence, organisations such as Breathe Arts Health Research and our contemporaries are now at the forefront of a movement that is being recognised in high places. So much so, that one of the key opening events this year is a forum discussing the publication of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry into arts, health and wellbeing, a two-year inquiry that is likely to have implications for future policy in the field of arts and health. Exciting times!
Breathe is of course playing its part in the festival, hosting 6 events across the week (5 open to the public) showcasing and celebrating a range of music and dance events, not just for patients, staff and visitors to Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Trust but to Londoners as a whole.
On Monday 12 June, Breathe’s first and opening concert of the festival celebrates St Thomas and Evelina Hospitals as buildings. Anima, an Acapella group led by singer Jo Foster will perform whilst on the move at lunchtime, singing in corridors, smaller public as well as clinical spaces in both St Thomas and Evelina, allowing patients and visitors to be bathed in song and the sound to reverberate around the environment.
Our second performance later that same evening is a dance double bill featuring two very different dance companies – Corali and Sage.
Corali Dance Company makes a welcome third visit to the Atrium space at Guy’s hospital. Corali exists to creatively empower people with learning disabilities so they can understand and reach their potential, grow in confidence and independence, and become ambassadors and role models for others. Their core belief is that people with learning disabilities can contribute meaningfully to cultural activities and positively raise awareness of disability. The company create moving and original contemporary pieces using dancers of exceptional ability.We are delighted to continue to support their work and give them a performing platform in the festival.
Sage Dance Company is a community dance company for people aged 55 years and over. Founded in 2010 by choreographer and former first soloist of the Royal Ballet Company, Simon Rice, the mandate for the company is to continually create new work for performance and improve the members’ technique and further their skills through the rehearsal and performing process. The work they do is sophisticated, challenging, fun and of genuine quality. As an original and unique classical ballet company, Sage are pushing back frontiers and boundaries by showing that the senior citizens within society can continue to live rich and healthy lives, be creative and acquire new knowledge and skills. Sage are great advocates for the causes of older people and, as role models, are living their vision of a more creative and healthier society.
Our third performance (Wednesday 14 June) will showcase how singing is helping patients in their recovery following treatment for cancer. The Tenovus “Sing with Us” choirs are fun, uplifting and friendly, and are open to anyone affected by cancer whether you’re a patient, survivor, carer or someone who has been bereaved through cancer. You don’t need to read music or be a great singer to join either – every voice counts. Professional musicians work as part of the Cancer Support Team leading activities and all new members are made to feel welcome. Post public performance, the choir will then give a short concert in the new cancer centre in Guy’s Hospital.
Friday, 16 June we host 2 performance – one public and one private. Sound artist Ebe Oke has worked alongside such illustrious names as Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno. He will perform an original composition – Field – a moving and continuously unfolding electronic soundscape, meditative in nature, allowing the listener to relax and reflect. In a separate private event, young pupils from Hyde Park Primary School will entertain children and families in Evelina Children’s Hospital with a series of songs.
The closing day (Sunday 17 June) sees our final performance for Creativity and Wellbeing Week. Trust Harmonix is the newly formed Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust staff community choir, set up as a new initiative by Breathe in January 2017 to give NHS staff the chance to discover the befits that group singing can bring. The choir sets a high standard, but crucially there are no auditions and any GSTT staff member can join. This is their first public outing and will be a relaxed and fun end to Breathe’s contribution to the festival.
About London Creativity and Wellbeing Week
London Creativity and Wellbeing Week happened for the first time in 2012. The 2016 week saw over 150 events with nearly 25,000 participants right across London. The week has now become a crucial feature in the capital’s cultural calendar. There is a growing body of evidence indicating the profound effect engagement in the arts and creativity can have on health and wellbeing. The arts bring us alive, nourish our curiosity, help us learn – they change the places in which we are treated – and make them places we might want to be, they can improve the relationship between clinician and patient, and they give us the courage to face our own frailties and strengths.
With debates and discussions, performances and exhibitions, tours and practical sessions, the Week is an opportunity to find out more, make connections, be inspired, and shape the future of arts, creativity and wellbeing.