Report reveals six-fold increase in arts experiences for health service users and staff in Ireland

Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland (AHCI) has published a report on its research into the level and nature of Arts and Health activity in the Republic of Ireland which revealed a six-fold growth in this field of work over the past 20 years. The research, which was carried out by Dr Francesca Farina, measured the level and nature of arts and health activity in 2019 across a range of healthcare contexts, from hospitals and day care centres, to community settings and health promotion.

The AHCI mapping research demonstrated the diversity of arts programmes in healthcare in terms of healthcare settings, artforms, scale and longevity of programmes and governance arrangements. The most prevalent type of arts experience was participatory and collaborative arts whereby health service users and staff collaborate with professional artists in making artworks in all artforms. This accounted for two thirds of programmes (67%). Approximately one third of programmes involved either performance (38%) or artists’ residencies (32%), while one quarter of programmes involved an exhibition (27%) or an educational element (24%). One in ten programmes involved either a festival (11%) or public art commission (10%).

The research demonstrated that those programmes that had input from multiple partners and funders had in turn larger budgets and multiple funders, ran for longer periods and were more likely to survive the vagaries of the ever-changing funding landscape.

Mary Grehan, Arts in Health Curator for Children’s Health Ireland, and Chair of the research working group, says:

“Arts and Health programmes in Ireland have traditionally been born of the vision of individual champions. Yet the beneficial impact of arts in healthcare comfortably chimes with the ambition of national healthcare strategies such as Healthy Ireland and Sharing the Vision. This relationship between arts and healthcare is something we would like healthcare policy makers to consider in a more systematic way as we consider how to embed arts and creativity into the experience of healthcare and promotion of wellbeing in the aftermath of Covid- 19.”

Find out more and read the report in full