Kildare County, Ireland Art in Health Programme

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Kildare County, Ireland

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Type: Program

Status: Launched in 2007

Source File:


Arts in Health refers to arts activities that take place within a healthcare setting. The range of potential arts activities in this setting is broad and may consist of:

Environmental Enhancement: the improvement of the physical environment through the use of interior design or architecture or the situation of artwork in healthcare locations including site-specific commissioned artwork.

Participation-focused work: the engagement of people through arts activities. This can include patients as audience members or as participants. Examples include public performances or dance, music or drama, workshops and artists residencies.

Arts in health is active in all types of medical facility: primary, secondary and tertiary care; acute and mental health care and can impact anyone who enters the facility whether patient, visitor or staff. A distinction is made between arts in health and arts therapy. Whilst in arts therapy, the therapist uses art as a means to achieve therapeutic change, the term arts in health refers to arts practices whose primary goal is the experience or production of art.

Although the primary objective is not therapeutic, there is international recognition of the benefits of the arts in health and how it can assist in the healing process. Good health is not just concerned with eliminating illness but also with promoting psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being and the use of arts in health recognises this.

In August 2007, Kildare County Council appointed Nicola Dunne as Arts in Health Specialist, a unique post within local authorities. The role of the Arts in Health Specialist is to work with key agencies in the county to develop and deliver a programme of arts in health projects in a variety of health settings and to provide support for artists and agencies involved in arts in health practice.