Performing Arts Overview


Our Performing Arts programme is made up of a number of different strands, each skilfully designed to improve the experience of healthcare settings and systems for patients, staff and visitors.


We offer free performances in public spaces for patients, staff, visitors and local communities, and performances in clinical spaces to entertain patients and staff. Our overall aim is to enhance the healthcare environment, relieve stress and bring a sense of greater wellbeing.

The programme is carefully curated to respond to the rich diversity of a local community – where up to 150 different languages can be spoken – ensuring there is always something different on offer. It also provides staff with the opportunity to trial new arts-in-health projects and approaches to benefit their patient groups or the hospital workforce.


Breathe Performing Arts enriches healthcare environments by helping to make them more welcoming and humane places. Wherever possible, our performances are interactive in order to enhance the experience for patients, visitors and staff.

The programme brings patient groups together, finds new ways to solve problems faced by those with ill health and pioneers methods of incorporating the arts into treatment. By encouraging individuals and communities to engage with and participate in the arts, we can help improve clinical outcomes and generally improve health and wellbeing.


The performing arts have a therapeutic effect which reduces anxiety, boredom and frustration during waiting times or whilst in hospital. Research by Nilsson (2008) found that music significantly reduces anxiety levels in patients and suggests the music should be listened to for at least 30 minutes to have an effect of relaxation and pain relief… Which is the minimum length of any or our concerts.

More recently our Research Lead Dr Daisy Fancourt has shown that listening to concerts reduces levels of stress hormones, including cortisol, helping people to feel more relaxed.*



Breathe Regularly

This exciting programme of public concerts in hospital settings offers patients, staff and visitors regular engagement with the arts through a wide variety of genres including music, dance, theatre, poetry and puppetry. Wherever possible performances are linked with cultural events, local festivals and health awareness days in the community, and offer opportunities to actively take part.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Waiting for and receiving treatment in hospital can be extremely stressful. Our team of gifted professional musicians plays for staff and patients in outpatient, inpatient and community spaces, such as child health centres and dialysis units. They perform in waiting areas and at bedsides, actively engaging with patients and visitors and playing requests or music to suit the environment. Their presence helps to reduce stress and make the patient experience a more humane one.

Breathe Deeply

These bespoke projects and programmes creatively integrate and use performing arts in clinical and therapeutic programmes to improve care for specific patient groups, and to help with development and wellbeing. They can range from using creative writing to help young mums, boosting team building and communication skills for staff through performance, or using music making or dance to improve wellbeing.

Breathing Spaces

These small pop-up events are designed to take arts and creativity into other areas of hospitals. The ‘bite-sized’ performances last just one or two minutes and take place on a 1-to-1 basis with staff, patients and visitors. Through music, poetry, magic and more, they offer vital moments of respite and rejuvenation in busy stressful days.

We currently deliver over 1,200 performances per year in 60 units across Guy’s and St Thomas and Evelina London. That’s more than in any other London hospital.

If you think Breathe could help make your hospital or NHS trust a better place to be, let’s talk.