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Event Overview

In this event we will make the case that the arts can support the wellbeing of all. We will present exciting research of how this can be enabled opening new horizons and creating new possibilities. 

We will launch our manifesto of the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing and our strategy of how to scale up place-based arts initiatives that can support mental health and wellbeing, and will benefit a wide range of people including individuals and communities that are disadvantaged or marginalised.

We will showcase the work we have done in areas with high levels of health, social and economic inequalities offering opportunities for people to connect no matter where they are based.

We will highlight the contribution the arts can make in supporting the care of carers including our work with communities and organisations locally, nationally and internationally.

We will launch the diverse work of the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing and this of the Creative Arts Therapies International Research Alliance of which we are founding members.

Performances, workshops, presentations with keynote contributions from the WHO, the Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the National Centre for Arts and Wellbeing will offer rich experiences to participants in person and online. The voices of people with lived experience will frame the presentations to what matters to people participating in the arts.

Event Programme

The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University

Event timetable for day 1 Tuesday 20th June 2023

Event Speakers

20th June | Day 1: Creative approaches to addressing health inequalities

Dr Nils Fietje

Technical Officer, WHO Europe; Co-founder and Co-director, Jameel Arts & Health Lab

Nils Fietje is a Technical Officer within the Behavioural and Cultural Insights Unit at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. He has a background in English literature and the cultural history of medicine. As part of the BCI Unit, he is leading efforts to understand how cultural contexts affect and interact with health and well-being, across the life-course and throughout the continuum of care. Recently, this work has included a particular focus on arts and health, having published the first-ever WHO report on the evidence base for arts and health interventions.

Dr Darren Henley

CEO of Arts Council England

Darren Henley is chief executive of Arts Council England. Since joining the Arts Council in 2015, he has championed the positive impact of public investment in artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries on creating happier lives in villages, towns and cities across England.  

His boardroom experience spans arts, media, education, charity and government. He currently chairs the UK National Lottery Forum and the National Lottery Promotions Unit management board, with previous roles including managing director of Classic FM and author of two independent government reviews into music education and cultural education. These resulted in England’s first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the Museums and Schools programme, the BFI Film Academy and the National Youth Dance Company.  

A certified coach, Darren has a doctorate exploring the role of the outsider as an agent for change, and degrees in politics, management, applied positive psychology and history of art. He was appointed OBE in 2013 for services to music and CBE in 2022 for services to the arts, receiving the British Academy President’s Medal in 2015 for his contribution to music education, music research and the arts.

21st June | Day 2: Research Activities of the Research Centre and the Alliance

Dr Nisha Sajnani

Director, Program in Drama Therapy; Founding Chair of the Creative Arts Therapies International Research Alliance, Co-founder and co-director, Jameel Arts & Health Lab, New York University

Dr. Nisha Sajnani, RDT-BCT, is the Director of the Program in Drama Therapy and Theatre & Health Lab; founding Co-Director of the Arts & Health at New York University. She is a founding co-director of the Jameel Arts & Health Lab established in collaboration with the WHO to measurably improve health and wellbeing through the arts. An award winning author, educator, and advocate, her body of work explores the unique ways in which aesthetic experience can inspire equity, care, and collective human flourishing across the lifespan.

Dr Guila Clara Kessous

UNESCO Ambassador of Arts for Peace

Dr. Guila Clara Kessous is a Peace Ambassador and a UNESCO Artist for Peace. She is a theatre artist, professor, and an executive coach. On the one hand, she is using theatre techniques as tools that can help heal those who have suffered from prior trauma and on the other role-playing games to enhance corporate communication. Recipient of a doctorate under Nobel Prize of Peace Elie Wiesel, Dr. Kessous has created the program “Theatre and Human Rights” at Harvard University and was knighted by the French government for her work using theatre to help women victims of sexual violence with Dr. Mukwege in Congo.

Also featuring guest speakers:

Professor Helen Chatterjee

Professor Human & Ecological Health at UCL and Research Programme, Director for Health Inequalities within AHRC/UKRI

Helen leads on a national research programme coordinating a series of projects across the UK focussed on mobilising cultural and natural assets to combat health inequalities. The research will explore opportunities for embedding and scaling up community-based ‘creative health’ approaches across health systems, particularly Integrated Care Systems. The programme brings together a range of national partners including NHS England’s Personalised Care Group, the National Academy for Social Prescribing, and the National Centre for Creative Health. 

Alexandra Coulter

Director of the UK National Centre for Creative Health (NCCH)

Alexandra Coulter is Director of the UK National Centre for Creative Health (NCCH) which launched in March 2021. It was established in response to Recommendation 1 in the Creative Health report, which was published in 2017 following a two-year inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG). Alex has provided the secretariat for the APPG since 2015 and project managed the inquiry. The NCCH’s mission is to advance good practice and research, inform policy and promote collaboration, helping foster the conditions for creative health to be integral to health and social care and wider systems.