Contribution of arts, culture and creativity to health and wellbeing explored in Arts Council England visit to Cumbria

A dynamic two-day event focusing on the contribution of the arts and creative sectors to health and wellbeing in Cumbria has been taking place this week, co-hosted by University of Cumbria with Arts Council England, Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council.

With support from arts, cultural, civic and employer partners, events in Barrow and Carlisle have been showcasing how organisations are working together to address key challenges such as health, education, and social inequalities.

Panel debates explored what University of Cumbria can offer the region in terms of health, society and the arts.

Guests and dignitaries learned about initiatives that are engaging local communities. They also discussed what makes towns and cities like Barrow and Carlisle distinctive and exciting and explored the power of arts and culture, imagination and creativity to support health and wellbeing of people and communities, as well as working together to promote career opportunities in creative industries locally.

On Tuesday, Arts Council England Chief Executive Dr Darren Henley and Senior Relationship Manager Jane Beardsworth joined invited guests at Barrow-in-Furness Town Hall. The following day, the series moved to Carlisle Youth Zone where activities included a ‘youth voice’ panel discussion led by young members.

Representatives from NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, BAE Systems Submarines, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College London and the Pears Cumbria School of Medicine, Art Gene, BarrowFull, Prism Arts, Cumbria Arts and Culture Network, Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, and Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery were among those in attendance.


Arts Council England 2024 visit Barrow group


Above: Arts Council England’s Dr Darren Henley and Jane Beardsworth (centre) with representatives from University of Cumbria, Cumberland Council, Westmorland and Furness Council and partners 

Professor Julie Mennell DL, Vice Chancellor, University of Cumbria, said: “We and our partners share a deep commitment to proactively contributing to the health and wellbeing of people and places across Cumbria – from addressing inequalities, deprivation, and isolation, enhancing place attractiveness and vibrancy, through to retaining and attracting more people to live, work and thrive here.

“Events this week not only shine a spotlight on just some of the arts, creativity, and health care partnerships and initiatives that are making a real difference in Cumbria, they provide a fantastic opportunity to explore how by working collaboratively for people and place, we can have even greater impact.”

Dr Darren Henley CBE, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “Artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries across Cumbria make it such a special place to live, work and study. Every time I come here, I am excited by the creativity, innovation and sense of possibility right across the county. Much of that is down to the work of the team at the University of Cumbria who do a magnificent job in training the next generation of creatives, in supporting creative professionals and organisations based here, and in telling Cumbria’s story on a national and international stage.”

Councillor Virginia Taylor, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities and Localities at Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “It was a delight to meet artists, health professionals, educators and all sorts of movers and shakers at these events in Barrow and Carlisle and I look forward to the council continuing those relationships.

“I learnt about brilliant projects where creativity has opened eyes, soothed distress, made people happy and altogether made the world a better place.  It’s great that social prescribing is on everyone’s agenda, that we have Creative Health Associates attached to the NHS, and that the social and health benefits of involvement with the arts has been highlighted – my thanks to the University of Cumbria, the Arts Council, both councils and all the organisations which contributed for these great days.”

Councillor Anne Quilter, Cumberland Council’s Executive Member for Vibrant and Healthy Places, said: “The high-profile visit was a showcase of all the great work already underway within our cultural sector in Cumberland. We want to build on this collaborative working and celebrate all that our area has to offer. We are a listening council and want our partners, students, visitors and communities to be part of the development of culture within our region.”

VIDEO: Dr Darren Henley reflects upon his visit to Cumbria

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