The Art of Staying Healthy

Can culture improve our well-being?

At the beginning of the summer of 2021 a programme called “The Art of Staying Healthy” was launched. The programme is led by a joint project team, representing the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC), EUNIC Global and The Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS), supported by the Arts Promotion Centre from Finland. Jointly, we aim to empower collaboration between the arts and health sectors and to pilot arts interventions in the health and well-being of people and communities in the Northern Dimension area.

During the open call we received 56 eligible applications and unique project ideas from ten countries on how arts can foster the well-being of people in. In order to participate in the open call, the applicants had to prove their existing or committed collaboration with partner(s) from another sector, as well as the level of necessity and sustainability of the project idea. With the help of a selection committee of five experts, 11 projects from seven countries were selected. It is worth noting that shortly after the evaluation process, the project team was so impressed by the quality and relevancy of the project ideas, that the available funding was more than doubled from EUR 45,000 up to nearly EUR 110,000.  This provides the opportunity for twice as many projects to be piloted than originally planned at the start of the programme.

The selected projects involve different target groups such as hearing-impaired persons, adults and healthcare professionals with mental disorder, cancer patients, pupils, homeless people and others. On the one hand, each project will use its own methodology to demonstrate the impact on the target group, like dance, storytelling, photography, forum theatre etc. On the other, it will try to measure the impact on the health and well-being of the target group with measurable indicators.

In the programme “The Art of Staying Healthy”, participants receive funding for pilot projects, the opportunity to participate in knowledge-based workshops, mentoring support and onsite visits. The duration of the programme is till the end of 2022. The participants will receive support to establish a community and a peer-to-peer network that will remain in place and function after the programme ends.

In addition to the programme, it is planned to prepare a toolkit that will further help other organizations to build cross-sectoral partnerships. Two independent experts Ms Inga Surgunte and Ms Diana Walters will follow and analyse the process of the project and sum up the main conclusions in the form of a toolkit. Thus we aim to offer the lessons learned from the pilot projects to those working in the field.

NDPC, EUNIC and NDPHS strongly believe in the potential and importance of representing the creative cultural industries in the health and well-being sector to make sustainable impact within society. We are very excited to start the journey by tackling the question “Can culture improve well-being?” together with an amazing group of professionals from the Northern Dimension countries.  As some of the participants have already mentioned, they expect to learn, to acquire a new network and to create meaningful change. We invite everyone to follow the journey with us.

The Art of Staying Healthy programme is a part of the joint project between NDPC and EUNIC “Support to the NDPC”, co-funded by the European Commission.
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The 11 funded projects:

  • Danish Cultural Institute " The Art of Mental Health" ,  Denmark/Russia
  • Darni Socialineraida " Enabling the Integration of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Mental Disorders into Society through the Forum Theatre Methodology" , Lithuania
  • Galerija propaganda " BETTER" , Poland
  • Irene F.Arcas "Stimuli", Germany
  • ISSP  "Creatively Feeling: an Artful Approach to Mental Health & Healing", Latvia
  • Karjeras konsultacijas "The Beauty of Self-Mercy and Life", Latvia
  • Karlstad University " Dance for People with Parkinson’s Disease (PD): Understanding its Underlying Mechanisms through Functional MRI", Sweden
  • National Medical Research Centre for Therapy and Preventive Medicine "Fairy Tales as a Tool for the Formation of Motivation to Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle among Primary Schoolchildren", Russia
  • Northern State Medical University" Intergenerational Practices of Art and Fairy Tale Therapy for Improving Mental Health and the Northern Identity", Russia
  • Panevezys City Municipality Administration "CREATIVE HOME(less)", Lithuania
  • Riga International Biennial of Contemporary "Art Let´s sign the art", Latvia