Overall, this seven-step process is by no means intended to constrain projects nor add unnecessary burden to the design and delivery. Indeed, often the ideas for arts interventions come about through the interests of the people involved. The artistic idea may already be quite advanced and funding may even have been sourced before this seven-step process is considered. In this instance, pretending not to have an intervention and starting from scratch could waste time and lose the project momentum. Nevertheless, as preparation for the project, it may be valuable to go back using these steps and check that the assumptions made so far fit with the requirements of the setting and participants. Certainly, undertaking each of the steps in this process can be a fast process if done efficiently. For example, Steps 1 and 2 could be accomplished within a week if staff time is available: PESTLE and care process analysis could be undertaken intensively in 2 days, shadowing could be planned for half a day, and discovery interviews could be carried out with a dozen people involved over two differently timed clinic sessions during the week. Similarly, Step 3 could be carried out the following week with 3 days of consultation followed by an analytical process. Step 4 could take place immediately after and a pilot could be up and running within a month. As most projects require at least a month to engage staff, it is sensible to put this time to use in gathering the data involved in these steps. Of course, this might not provide as much in-depth knowledge as when more time is taken, and certainly larger projects, or those that are more ambitious, complex, or involve more vulnerable participant groups will need significantly more time spent on their development. However, some interventions are simpler to design and carry out than others, and this should be a factor in terms of how much time is spent on the planning.
It may also be decided that a step or substep in the process is not necessary, perhaps because the staff involved have already gathered prior data that can answer some of the questions, or because it is deemed that one step is not a requirement to the success of a project. At least in this instance, the decision not to undertake a step will be a conscious one rather than arising from not having prior experience in the field, making it less likely to affect the outcome of the intervention.
It was also discussed at the start of Chapter 5 that not all arts interventions have the explicit aim of solving a challenge within health. Museums, for example, deliver a range of exhibitions with no explicit health purposes. However, simply visiting these exhibitions can have health and social benefits. Consequently, the full seven-step approach may not be relevant for all arts interventions, especially those that have health effects as secondary or even unconscious aims. Nevertheless, if an organization decides to undertake a new programme of work or wishes to expand its reach into health (such as a museum deciding to start up Friday morning object-handling sessions specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease), these steps could be of value in that process. Furthermore, experience within healthcare contexts has demonstrated that the projects that operate within specific healthcare institutions or that want to be included within public health agendas need to have defined visions and be meeting some kind of ‘need’. Such interventions are precisely those for which this seven-step process will be most important.
In Chapter 7, we turn to the delivery of arts in health interventions, considering how artists and arts organizations can work in partnership with healthcare organizations to deliver successful interventions.