Performing arts

The power of live performance brings anxiety levels down and sends smiles soaring.

Watching a flamenco dancer spin as you wait for test results. Listening to a professional poet read aloud while you’re visiting a loved one. These aren’t part of the usual hospital experience, but we want them to be. Our Performing Arts programme brings exciting music, dance, poetry and more to clinical spaces across hospitals and healthcare settings.

See below how music transforms the experience for staff, patients and visitors.

How it helps

Research by Nilsson (2008) found that music significantly reduces anxiety levels. To give an effect of relaxation and pain relief, music should be listened to for at least 30 minutes – which is the minimum duration of any of our performances.


of audience members at our lunchtime performances and 83% of those from our inpatient and outpatient performances said the music made them feel happy, calm or relaxed.*

It changes your attitude towards a hospital, so it’s not just a place where you come when you are ill, but somewhere where you can come for something that is joyful and inspiring and does you good!

Anita Jackson – Patient


Public performances

We run a varied programme of weekly performances at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. Music from classical to jazz soothes and inspires. Dance brings energy, and people to their feet. Poetry, storytelling and more – all transform the hospital environment.


Residential Musician Programme

We bring live music to inpatients and outpatients in clinical units, wards and waiting areas. Our musicians’ regular sessions help calm and cheer patients pre/post-op and during treatments such as dialysis. You can find out about our current resident musicians here.

Could Breathe make your hospital or NHS trust a better place to be?

We find that patients' blood pressure and heart rates are lower when the musicians are here.

Jennifer Riordan, Staff Nurse, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust


Bespoke Arts-in-Healthcare

This programme of in-depth tailored projects integrates the arts into healthcare in more individual ways to meet very specific healthcare needs. Our team of artists includes filmmakers, writers, poets and puppeteers, each bringing unique stories and approaches to tackle age-old health problems.


Pop-up Arts Events

Got a minute? These innovative mini-performances offer experiences you don’t usually have in hospital.  We invite people to pause and watch or listen to something – a burst of music, a funny poem – chosen to suit their mood. Then they go on their way, uplifted by a personal ‘free gift’.

You read me an amazing poem about London today. I was on the 10th floor of the north wing and it was an awesome way to escape the busy work day for a moment.

Dr Hannah Nathan - Junior Doctor, Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Are you a musician, dancer, poet or other performing artist? Interested in working with us to make hospitals brighter places to be? Glad to hear it. Please click for details.


If you’re interested in bringing any elements of the Breathe Performing Arts programme to your hospital or NHS trust, we’d love to get involved.

* Evaluation Report 2013, Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd