About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Using the arts for health and wellbeing

We’re delighted to announce that we’re launching a new programme of work in partnership with Arts Council of Wales, and working closely with the Welsh NHS Confederation, to explore how we increase the role of the arts in keeping people in Wales healthy and well.

Much has been written about the role that the arts play in keeping people healthy and well, and preventing ill-health - and there’s lots of great practice that already happens, so we’re building from solid foundations.

We are keen to understand how the arts can play a more prominent role in the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales and, importantly, where new ideas are needed to make this happen.

Two people sitting on the floor with fairy lights decorating zimmer walking frames with wool

Pimp My Zimmer! Occupational Therapy team of Sycamore Ward, St Woolos Hospital.

The All Party Parliamentary Group’s report on the Arts and Health states:

“The arts, creativity and the imagination are agents of wellness: they help keep the individual resilient, aid recovery and foster a flourishing society.”

How can we increase the number of people who experience the health benefits of engaging in the arts, whether as a participant or member of an audience?

Bold new ideas are needed to increase the reach and impact of the arts and we hope this programme will start to support organisations, networks and individuals to overcome challenges and respond to opportunities.

What we’re doing

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be talking to as many people as possible to make sure we’ve really understood the problems, challenges and opportunities in this space. We have a good idea of where support for new ideas is needed but we want to check that this is reflected back by people already working at the intersections of the arts and health right across Wales.

Our challenge is this:

“How can arts interventions that promote wellbeing and prevent health-related issues occurring, play an impactful and sustainable role in the lives of people in Wales?”

We want to design a programme of support that focuses on the spaces where big, bold, new ideas are genuinely needed and where we can make some impact using the resources we have. We can’t do everything so we need to ensure we’re focused in the right places.

Once we’ve firmed up our logic model and defined the areas that we need to prioritise, we’ll start looking in detail at the different types of support we might provide to make this happen.

How to be involved

We hope to launch a programme of support for innovation in this space in the Autumn of this year - and you can help us shape the programme by getting in touch now!

If you want to talk to us about this, either:

As a starter, we’re curious to know what questions you’d be asking if you were in our shoes? Which networks, organisations and individuals are leading the way that we should talk to, both in Wales and beyond? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

photo of a man in a red jumper standing behind a drum and addressing an audience

Nicky Delgado, Re-Live production of ‘Age’ Image: Michael Blackwood Barnes

Header Image: Caban Sgriblio Project, Peak Cymru by Siôn Marshall-Waters


Rob Ashelford

Rob Ashelford

Rob Ashelford

Pennaeth Nesta Cymru / Head of Nesta Cymru

Rob is Head of Nesta Cymru - responsible for the delivery of Nesta's strategy in Wales.

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