UK governments*


See also more detail about Department of Health developments on the ‘Dept of Health‘ page in this section.


2007 – The Arts Council of Wales establish an Arts and Health steering group to oversee the development of a strategy.

2009 – Arts Council Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government publish ‘Arts in health and wellbeing: An action plan for Wales‘.


2007 The Scottish Government and Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) launch ‘Artful’, an initiative to develop, promote and map the arts and the role they play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of people living in Scotland.


The Department of Health created the arts & healthcare trust, ArtsCare, in 1991, which currently involves 22 local committees in hospitals and trusts. Working in visual art, dance, music and creative writing, the organisation engages 19 artists-in-residence, and runs the Clown Doctors service, using performing arts skills to engage with children who are critically ill and patients in other settings. Many artists have now developed sustainable long-term working relationships within hospitals and other healthcare venues.


2005 – Arts and Health Working Party established in the Department of Health.
2007 – ‘ Report of the review of Arts and Health Working Party’ (Cayton) is published
It concludes that, amongst other things:
•    arts and health is integral to health, healthcare provision and healthcare environments
•    arts and health initiatives are delivering real and measurable benefits across a range of government priority areas, and can help the Department of Health and NHS to contribute to wider government initiatives
•    there is a wealth of good practice and a substantial evidence base

2007 – ‘A prospectus for arts and health’ is published by the Department of Health and Arts Council of England, as a result of a recommendation by the Report of the Arts and Health Working Party . Includes research and evidence, and examples of projects and initiatives.

“Those who are involved in the wealth of activity across the country have amply demonstrated the tangible benefits of arts and health. Hundreds of research projects, organisations and individuals are showing that the arts are an integral part of the nature and quality of the services we provide. They reveal the effectiveness and value of arts and health initiatives, and the benefits they bring to patients, services users and their carers, and to communities and healthcare workers in every sector.” Andy Burnham MP (previously Minister of State for Delivery and Quality, Department of Health), David Lammy MP (previously Minister for Culture, Department for Culture, Media and Sport), A prospectus for arts and health, Department of Health and Arts Council England, 2007.

2007 – The arts, health and wellbeing‘ is published by Arts Council England. It is intended to be the Arts Council’s strategy for promoting the role of arts in health.

2008 House of Lords debate on arts and health introduced by Lord Howarth of Newport. Prompted by concerns of a lack of government action following the Arts and Health Working Party review, Lord Howarth gave an overview of recent research and pressed for ‘political leadership’ and a statement from the Department of Health at the highest level ‘legitimising support for the arts as part of mainstream NHS and social services activity’.

2008 An internal ‘Arts/Health’ group is established in the Department of Health, and Alan Johnson endorses the value of arts and health:

“I would like to see the benefits of participation in the arts recognized more widely by health and social care professionals, particularly those involved in commissioning services for people with mental health problems. This is not some kind of eccentric add-on – it should be part of the mainstream in both health and social care. And through the Arts/Health Group that’s been set up in my department, we will be looking at what more we can do to provide guidance, where to go for advice on best practice and sources of funding for clinicians and arts professionals.”

Rt Hon Alan Johnson, then Secretary of State for Health, 16 September 2008: speaking at the event ‘Open to all: mental health, social inclusion, and museums and galleries’.

* NB: Health is an area which is largely devolved from the Westminster government, to the assemblies/parliaments of the other countries of the UK. The BBC website’s ‘Guide to devolved powers‘ says this about health:

  • Northern Ireland – The assembly had primary and secondary legislative powers to run the NHS in Northern Ireland. However, control over some areas remained with the Department of Health. They were: abortion, embryology, surrogacy, genetics, fertilisation, medicine safety, oversight of medical professions and xenotransplantation (transplant of animal organs to humans).
  • Scotland – Edinburgh has primary and secondary legislative powers to run the NHS in Scotland, but with the same exceptions as Northern Ireland.
  • Wales – Cardiff has secondary powers to run the NHS in Wales, but with exceptions in the same areas as Northern Ireland and Scotland.





Alcoholism Alzheimer's Arthritis Autism Cancer Crafts Crohn's Disease Cystic Fibrosis Dance Dementia Down's Syndrome Heart Hepatitis C HIV and AIDS Lungs Mind MS Multiple Sclerosis Music Parkinson's Poetry Singing Stroke Visual arts Writing