Covid-19 may have caused arts centres to close their doors during 2020 but many artists and arts organisations have found innovative ways to keep delivering arts activities and support people’s mental health and wellbeing during lockdown.

Today, the Arts Council of Wales has announced that it will be making available £450,000 of National Lottery funding over the next five months to enable more people across Wales to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of taking part in the arts. 

To facilitate this, the Arts Council is extending its current partnership with Y Lab (a partnership between Cardiff University & Nesta). Y Lab will manage and distribute the Arts & Health National lottery funds until Spring 2021 on our behalf.

Commenting today, Phil George, Chair Arts Council of Wales said:

“Through a blend of online and doorstep arts, Welsh artists have really stepped up during the past seven months to ensure that some of our most vulnerable community members have been able to keep creatively active and connected despite having to shield and isolate.

“And one of the unexpected upsides of the pandemic has been more people turning to creative activities as a vital source of enjoyment, connection, solace and meaning in this time of crisis. We hope that this financial boost to arts and health announced today will enable even more people to benefit from creative activities.” 

Working with Y Lab and the Wales Arts for Health & Wellbeing Network (WAHWN), practitioners in the field will be able to access funding alongside structured learning support to design and deliver arts activities that respond to the growing health needs arising from the pandemic.

There will be two funds available within the HARP programme - at R&D level (the Seed Programme) and larger grants (through the Nourish Programme) to enable this work to develop and be sustained in the longer term.

Arts Council Wales has been supporting arts projects designed to improve people’s health and wellbeing for many years, and Arts Council funding support has enabled specialist arts and health coordinator posts to be embedded within all seven health boards in Wales.

Since 2017, through a Memorandum of Understanding, Arts Council Wales has been working in close partnership with the Welsh NHS Confederation to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing benefits of engaging with the arts. We’ve also been backing innovation in the field through the Health | Arts | Research | People (HARP Programme) managed by Y Lab.

The HARP Programme will aim to develop high quality, Coronavirus-safe arts activities for peoples’ health and wellbeing that promote equality, diversity and inclusion and that particularly address some pressing priorities within Arts & Health, including:

  • supporting the wellbeing of our health and care workforce;
  • building the resilience of people with mental or physical health challenges; and/or
  • improving the health of marginalised, underrepresented or at-risk groups of people.

For details on how apply to either of the two funds please visit Y Lab website or contact to arrange an initial conversation with one of the HARP team.