There is a rising awareness in the EU of the important role of cultural activities and the arts when securing mental health and well-being on both an individual and collective level. Concurrently, the ambition to harness positive effects of cultural approaches to well-being is growing at the policy level. Yet, designing sustainable interventions at the policy level that reliably implement a change of approach at the practitioner level is no trivial task. 

That is why the European Commission has offered 500.000 Euros to a major European partnership to carry out a major study and development of the field in Europe.

The partnership that has won the tender consists of major European cultural networks, organisations and a region: Culture Action Europe, the project manager, Trans Europe Halles and The Northern Dimension Partnership for Culture, Danish Central Denmark Region, Centrul Cultural Clujean from Romania and Društvo Asociacija from Slovenia. 

Gathering in a "memory apartment" in one of the houses in Den Gamle By in Aarhus, Denmark.

Gathering in a "memory apartment" in one of the houses in Den Gamle By in Aarhus, Denmark. Photo: Den Gamle By  

18 months with CultureForHealth 

Under the title, “CultureForHealth”, the partnership will run from December 2021 to May 2023 and investigate and develop the field within five areas. It will improve the exchange of knowledge, experience and success stories in the EU related to the role of culture in well-being and health, identify the most relevant existing practices, improve opportunities for actors in the field, carry out at least five smaller pilot projects and make a set of policy recommendations.

The project's results and news will be published on a special website designed for the project which will go online in January 2022. 

“The Long term aim of the project is to trigger a real policy change and to create a reference platform for experimentation and policy development for a new cultural dimension in health, welfare and well-living” - said Tere Badia secretary general of Culture Action Europe. 

Renowned Experts and the World Health Organization is following the project

The project is followed by an advisory board composed of experts who have placed special focus on culture, health and wellbeing and some of them   and some of them contributing to a large-scale international report published in 2019. The advisory board includes researchers and practitioners from Sweden, Denmark, England, Belgium, Lithuania and Romania. 

“Although the evidence to support the role of the arts in improving health and well-being has become increasingly strong over the last 10 years, there is still little coordinated activity that brings together experience and learning with regard to implementation at the country level. The CultureForHealth Partnership will fill an important gap by providing a space where knowledge and practice from effective interventions and case studies that have used the arts to promote health at the European level, can be showcased and disseminated,”- said Nils Fietje, Research Officer at WHO Europe. 

Pilot projects 

The project's six pilot projects that are being developed across Europe include projects about live music in hospitals, museum experiences for people with dementia, cultural experiences against burnout in the workplace as well as cultural experiences to strengthen social conditions, inclusion and mental well-being.

All of the projects are being followed by researchers who will gather and publish the experiences and results in articles and reports as part of the CultureForHealth project. 

Cross-sectorial exchanges all over Europe 

During the 18 months, CultureForHealth will bring together EU and Member States policy makers and experts from the cultural, health and social fields and  will share knowledge through a series of study visits, roundtables workshops and presentations, which will bring the project to Bologna, Barcelona, ​​Cluj, Brussels, Denmark and Sweden.