Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference – deadline to register 31 May 2017

The Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference, in Bristol on the 19, 20 and 21 June, promises to be a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge and experience, learn about the latest developments in practice and research and make new connections and friendships. The conference welcome delegates and speakers from 19 countries, including Australia, Canada, Finland, India, Lithuania, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda. If you haven’t registered yet, you can still do so until midnight on the 31 May.

Alex Coulter, Director of Arts and Health Southwest, and the conference's Director, writes:

"The conference will bring together more than 350 people: participants and service users, artists and arts organisations, health and social care professionals, managers and commissioners, policy makers, academics and educationalists.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who is contributing. You have helped us to create an incredibly rich and varied programme of debates, presentations, workshops and performances. We are in a time of great opportunity as well as significant challenge. The conference will help us to grow the field and work with shared purpose and vision. If you are unable to attend, the keynotes will be live streamed.

You can find out more information on the website and sign up for the Enewsletter to receive updates over the next few weeks by emailing

On Monday 19th June the focus is on public health in a global context and on creative ageing, with several sessions related to long-term conditions and dementia. We are really delighted that Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, will give the opening keynote. This is followed by Dr Nayreen Daruwalla, speaking about an arts and science festival in Dharavi in Mumbai, an informal settlement of roughly 750,000 people, where workshops brought together local artists, mentor artists and health scientists to develop artworks that raised questions about urban health. In the Big Debate that morning – What’s the Big Picture? – we’ll discuss how the arts are being used in international development, including within health education during the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

In the afternoon, there is such a choice of fascinating workshops and presentations, delegates will be hard pressed to choose. As one example, a session on singing in choirs and the benefits of singing for lung health and general wellbeing will give you insight into the latest research evidence. There seems to be something about Breath going on! In the evening, the Life of Breath collaboration between Durham University and Bristol University brings us a performance of Toby Young’s choral composition ‘Under the Surface’ in the wonderful surroundings of the exhibition, Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768 – 2017,  at the Royal West of England Academy. The piece explores the experience and isolation of people suffering from breathlessness. In a blog about the project, Toby Young writes: ‘Music and breath are inseparable. From a singer inhaling audibly before launching into an epic chorus, to a conductor grunting and gasping as they tear through a dramatic piece of orchestral music, these audible gestures of breathing pervade our understanding of music-making.’ Toby Young’s research as an academic is on philosophy and creativity.

On Tuesday Toby Young joins us for the Big Debate on What is Creativity? Associate Professor of Mental Health, Dr Theo Stickley, will argue that we cannot reduce creativity to a definition because it is the: ‘breath of life.’  That evening you can see the work of an artist who says: ‘I am an artist made of wire, string and the bones of someone else I used to be. For me, creativity is as necessary as respiration.’ Her work is in the exhibition ‘Alternative Visions’ at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, a partnership project with Outside In.

Tuesday evening includes a performance of a new composition by Victoria Hume called Delirium: Time and Violence, based on a series of interviews with patients, carers and staff, as well as audio recordings, from Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, a Johannesburg teaching hospital. On Wednesday, Blood Sugars brings performers who have been working in another Johannesburg hospital, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, with people who live with diabetes and the clinicians who care for them.

Tuesday 20th has a focus on acute health services and mental health, Medical Humanities and Arts Therapies. Wednesday 21st digs deep into questions of research and new and innovative methodologies. The Big Debate, What’s it All About? will explore what the future direction of research should be. There is so much more to tell you about and not enough space or time. The detailed conference programme will be on the website next week and I hope you will be able to join us for this fabulous event!"

Read the draft programme here

Register here by 31 May