A creative proposition for health and wellbeing

Assoc. Prof. Keely Macarow (RMIT)
2019 Conference

There is not a day that passes when we do not think about our health and wellbeing. We hear through media channels that this year’s flu will be especially virulent and of the latest cancer research. As creative practitioners, we are not immune from ill health and our work practices sometimes contribute to physical injuries, stress and anxiety. However, we also respond to the lived experience of health, disease and wellbeing through a myriad of creative endeavours and collaborate with medical and health workers to integrate art projects within health settings. Arts in Health colleagues in the UK have worked extensively with the public health and social care sectors, local government and politicians to establish collaborations, organisations, research centres and parliamentary groups and reports. These activities have contributed to and noted the positive impact of culture on human health and called for accelerated funding and support for creative practice within health and social care settings and the integration of creative practice and medical humanities in art and health education. This article discusses the extensive and significant reports on art and health published by the World Health Organization (2019), the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (2017) to discover whether insights and recommendations from these reports could be adapted into an Australian context art and health policy and project context. Furthermore, the UN Sustainable Development Goals are also surveyed to explore how the SDGs can inform an arts and health agenda which could operate internationally and within Australia.

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About the author

Associate Professor Keely Macarow is Coordinator of Creative Care, School of Art, RMIT University.

Keely has collaborated with artists, designers, social scientists, activists, health, aged care and engineering researchers in Australia and Sweden to explore how creative arts and design interventions can be activated in healthcare, political and housing settings and for public exhibition, performance and events. Research projects / partners include: St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (Designing Sound for Health and Wellbeing, ARC Linkage, 2008-2011 + Smart Heart Necklace: Revolutionising Ambulatory Cardiac Monitors, Gandel Philanthropy, 2014-2015) and Karolinska Institutet, Uni. Arts Stockholm (Co-design for better experiences in end-of-life settings. A transdisciplinary project, Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-2019) and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (2019).