Art as medicine

How can the creative arts help our NHS? Nicky Goulder from charity Create explains.

Studies have shown that the creative arts have a measurable impact on decreasing hospital admissions. So why are there not more programmes throughout the health and social care system?

Delivering creative arts workshops is often a hard sell for NHS trusts and local authorities as the accepted forms of medicine are doctors and pills, not artists and paint brushes. It’s easy to placate critics by announcing extra funding or more doctors without any real thought given to other working options. However, we need to take advantage of new, effective methods of treatment.

Create is a UK charity empowering lives through the creative arts. We engage the most marginalised participants in inspiring, sustainable arts programmes in areas where provision is poor and engagement in the arts is low. We prioritise our work with seven participant groups: young patients, disabled children and adults, young and adult carers, schoolchildren in areas of deprivation, vulnerable older people, young and adult offenders, and marginalised children and adults.

For now, charities such as Create rely on voluntary donations to run projects and deliver rigorously evaluated programmes. But we are paving the way for a future where the creative arts are seen as not just beneficial, but vital to a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing.

Nicky Goulder is co-founder and chief executive of Create.