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The Art of Being Healthy and Well Symposium on the role of creativity in people’s health launched by Ministers Martin and Donnelly

Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Stephen Donnelly TD, Minister for Health, today jointly affirmed their recognition of the health and wellbeing benefits of creativity and arts. 

The all-of-government Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Health Service Executive and the Arts Council co-hosted a national symposium on the positive benefits of creativity and the arts to health and wellbeing at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.  At the symposium, policy-makers and practitioners from the health, arts and culture sectors considered how best to harness the powerful contribution creative engagement can make to our health and wellbeing.    

In opening the symposium, Minister Martin recognised the long and rich history of collaboration between the arts and healthcare sectors, and emphasised the need to create a more supportive and sustainable environment through greater collaboration and integration between the sectors. Two videos showcasing storytelling in the paediatrics ward of University Hospital Waterford and a music workshop with residents of St Camillus Nursing Home in Limerick provided examples of the types of creative engagement that support the delivery of acute and community healthcare in Ireland.   

Minister Martin also announced additional pilot funding, through the Creative Ireland Programme, to explore closer collaboration between local arts and health sectors in the area of social prescribing. The initiative will assist G.P.s and other health practitioners to refer people to local arts and creative initiatives in five pilot locations in Waterford, Dublin, Donegal and Mayo where this would be beneficial for their wellbeing. 

Minister Martin said: 

We are fortunate to have an extensive nationwide human infrastructure – embedded in both culture and health sectors - tasked with supporting the wellbeing of Irish people.   I will be interested to see whether encouraging these networks to collaborate locally can add value to our respective wellbeing ambitions.” 

Minister Donnelly referenced the World Health Organisation reporting an extensive evidence base showing how engagement with the arts sector plays an important role in enhancing wellbeing and mental health noting: 

The holistic nature of these types of artistic and cultural activities fits perfectly with our vision for health and wellbeing. Health is not just about the absence of disease, it is about recognising the importance and interconnectedness of physical, mental and social wellbeing.” 

Both Ministers also warmly welcomed the roll-out of a new pilot creative initiative that will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the Traveller Community.  The projects are being jointly funded by the Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Health Service Executive (Mental Health Unit / National Social Inclusion Office) and the Arts Council.  The Traveller Wellbeing Through Creativity 2022 initiative will fund five projects worth nearly €250,000 that are co-designed and co-produced by Travellers in support of Traveller health and wellbeing. 

Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the HSE said: 

“I am delighted to see the ongoing and new arts and health projects being showcased today that are being delivered across the health service. Health service staff, attending both in person and virtually, will benefit from today’s event, building their knowledge in this area and creating more opportunities and awareness as we continue to utilise creative arts to benefit the wellbeing of service users and staff.” 

Maureen Kennelly, Director, Arts Council said:  

As the range of projects and discussion highlights, engagement and participation in the arts can make a significant contribution to our health and wellbeing. The Arts Council also sees the opportunities that this area of work presents for the many artists and arts organisations working in the area of Arts & Health, and values the important contribution of  health sector colleagues, health service users, carers, friends and volunteers to the development and vibrancy of the arts in Ireland. We are committed to working with our colleagues at a national level to support the strategic development of this area into the future”. 


A recording of the symposium can be viewed online at 

Storytelling in University Hospital Waterford

Music in St Camillus Nursing Home, Limerick


Notes to editor 

  1. The Creative Ireland Programme in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media is an all-of-Government initiative designed to promote creativity as a strategy for wellbeing, social cohesion, and economic success.  Its core proposition is that participation in cultural and creative activity promotes individual, community and national wellbeing.  The Programme therefore seeks to support each citizen - whether individually or collectively, in our personal lives or in our institutions - to realise our full creative potential, by encouraging, facilitating and supporting collaboration.  To this end, and under the guiding principles of creativity, collaboration and transformation, the Programme strives to promote understanding and appreciation of the value of creativity in all its forms and engage and influence decision-makers to embed creativity across public policy.  


  1. The Health and Wellbeing Programme in the Department of Health leads the coordination of implementation of Healthy Ireland, the national framework to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Ireland (2013-2025).  As the health self-empowerment part of the implementation of the Sláintecare vision for the future of health and social care services in Ireland, the Programme works closely with colleagues across other Government Departments, the HSE and a wide range of partners and stakeholders.  The Programme oversees the implementation of a number of policies and strategies under the Healthy Ireland umbrella, including the National Obesity Policy, the National Physical Activity Plan and the National Sexual Health Strategy, as well as managing the Healthy Ireland Fund, publishing the annual Healthy Ireland Survey and running national citizen engagement and empowerment campaigns. 


  1. The five projects being funded by the Traveller Wellbeing Through Creativity 2022 initiative are as follows: 



The GAFF (Limerick Theatre and Performance Hub), an artist led, community focused arts organisation based in Limerick City 

Guth na Mincéirí -The GAFF is collaborating with the Limerick City Traveller Health Programme, Limerick and Clare's Local Creative Youth Partnership, artist and Traveller William (WILLZEE) Casey and the Learning Hub Limerick to celebrate Traveller culture through dance, film, music, visual art, craft and discussion. 

St Margaret’s Travellers Community Association, Ballymun 

The Pisreóg Project - St. Margaret’s is collaborating with Axis Ballymun, an arts and community resource centre, to collect, document and celebrate superstitions and traditions of the Traveller Community in Ballymun - something Travellers care about, know about, and want to hold on to and pass on. 

Galway Traveller Movement (GTM) 

Cultural Action, Cultural Rights: A Foundation for Wellbeing - GTM is collaborating with writer and Traveller Rosaleen McDonagh, Misléor Festival of Nomadic Cultures and Atmos Collective, a collective of culturally diverse artists, to deliver a diverse creative programme focusing on the importance of cultural identity and sense of self as being core for wellbeing among the Traveller community. 

Cluster Fox Films 

Travellers on Screen - Cluster Fox Films, a company set up by John Connors with partner Tiernan Vincent to make films about underrepresented communities and stories hidden from view, will explore Traveller specific mental health issues through the medium of film. 

The Gallery of Photography 

Photography – the Gallery of Photography is collaborating with Martin Beanz Warde, Artist and Traveller, to create photographs which explore new ways to represent the diversity and vibrancy of Traveller culture. 



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