Arts policy papers

Ireland

The Arts Council of Ireland is the national agency for funding, developing, and promoting the arts in Ireland. It was one of the first major arts bodies globally to strategically promote the arts in health at a national level as a central part of core arts practice. Arts Council Ireland has supported arts in health practice since the late 1990s when it collaborated with the Eastern Health Board (which, in 2005, became the Health Service Executive) on the development of five pilot projects. The findings from this were published in The Picture of Health.(2) In 2001, the Arts Council of Ireland commissioned a study to map the levels of artistic activity taking place in healthcare settings: Mapping the Arts in Healthcare Contexts in the Republic of Ireland. This identified 150 projects in existence at the time; much higher than had been perceived. Furthermore, it emerged that one-third of the projects were already supported by a local authority (an administrative body in local government), demonstrating political buy-in.(3) In Partnerships for the arts in practice 2006-2008, arts in health was outlined as one of the priorities, with new funding programmes established, new initiatives planned to support practice, and a programme of advocacy work set in motion to encourage best practice and ‘a higher level of recognition of arts and health as a legitimate area of artistic practice’. (4)

This led on to the appointment in 2008 of a Specialist Adviser in arts in health to develop policy and strategy work, culminating in the 2010 first Arts and Health Policy and Strategy document.(5) This summarized research findings to date, explored the values underpinning the Arts Council’s approach to arts in health, and made recommendations for how arts in health could be promoted at a national level. Since then, the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (initially set up to support the hospital environment in Waterford Regional Hospital) and Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts, have developed a website funded by the Arts Council of Ireland dedicated to arts in health: www.artsandhealth.ie. Interestingly, however, despite this volume of previous activity, the Arts Council strategy (20162025) did not mention health or wellbeing.(6)

 
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