Rhinegold Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

Lucy Thraves


Southbank Centre holds first Creative Health Conference

2:41, 10th June 2019

Southbank Centre’s first Creative Health Conference took place on 10 June, kickstarting National Creativity and Wellbeing Week.

The conference was led by choirmaster Mark De Lisser, and brought together artists, practitioners, funders and policy makers in the arts and health sectors.

Speakers included Matt Hancock MP, secretary of state for health and social care, Rebecca Pow, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, and Southbank Centre’s director of music Gillian Moore CBE.

Topics ranged from innovation in arts and health, to social isolation, loneliness, and the benefits that arts can bring to health and wellbeing. These include:

  • An ‘arts-on-prescription’ project which has seen a 37 per cent drop in GP consultation rates and a 27 per cent reduction in hospital admissions
  • A report conducted within deprived communities in London which found that, of those who engaged with the arts, 79 per cent ate more healthily, 77 per cent engaged in more physical activity and 82 per cent enjoyed greater wellbeing
  • Music therapy has been found to reduce agitation and the need for medication in 67 per cent of people with dementia
  • Evidence suggests that participatory arts activities help to alleviate anxiety, depression and stress both within and outside work. Arts therapies have been found to have similar benefits for cancer patients and people recovering from brain injury, as well as increasing resilience and wellbeing
  • A recent study which shows that cultural engagement predicts changes in cognitive function in older adults over a ten-year period where cultural engagement included going to the theatre, opera or concerts. Results revealed attendance was associated with lesser decline in cognitive function.

The conference was presented by Southbank Centre in association with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, London Arts in Health Forum, Arts Council England, and the Centre for Performance Science.

Gillian Moore CBE said: ‘The evidence for the benefits of the arts on mental and physical health at all ages are clearly documented and the earlier this starts the better. Young people need access at an early age to creativity and culture to gain the wellbeing benefits that will last them their whole lives. At a time when opportunities for transformative experiences in art and culture are diminishing for young people, this conference – the biggest gathering so far in this country on arts, health and wellbeing – is timely.

‘There are important issues which Southbank Centre is committed to addressing in its day-to-day work. This conference in the first of what will be an annual event at Southbank Centre, so that we continue to share the considerable expertise across all sectors in this vital area of work, and to ensure that the role of arts in improving the lives of people is fully understood and implemented.’

The next conference will take place on 30 June 2020.



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