About

Introduction
Dialogue Arts + Health was a regionally based professional development project for artists and practitioners working in Arts and Health settings. The project included three main strands – Regional Dialogue Sessions, a National | Dialogue Arts + Health and an Online | Dialogue as web-based discussion forum for communication and documentation on the project.

The Regional Dialogue Sessions took place in Cavan, Offaly, Galway and Limerick between September and November 2011. The National | Dialogue Arts + Health took place at RUA RED, Tallaght on the 6th December 2011.

Aims
Dialogue Arts + Health aimed to bring together artists who were experienced or interested in developing contemporary art projects in healthcare settings. The overall project aimed to address a range of needs and issues for and with artists working in healthcare contexts, including:

Artists and Networking

  • Reach out to artists who may be professionally isolated
  • Build confidence and a sense of professional identity among artists
  • Cultivate leadership among artists
  • Motivate artists to participate and contribute to regional fora and Dialogue Series
  • Encourage artists to take creative risks in healthcare contexts

Resources

  • Signpost Arts and Health artists and practitioners to existing resources

Standards

  • Address the current inequalities of standards in Arts and Health practice

Documentation and Evaluation 

  • Increase awareness for quality documentation and evaluation

Links

  • Link the work of artists and practitioners with that of Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland (AHCI)

Methods
Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland (AHCI) worked collaboratively to bring together artists who were experienced or interested in working in healthcare contexts through Dialogue Arts + Health. The project was delivered in three main strands :

  • Regional Dialogue Sessions
  • National | Dialogue Arts + Health
  • Online | Dialogue – a web-based discussion forum for communication and documentation on the project.

The Regional Dialogue Sessions took the form of twelve professional development sessions for artists across art-forms (Visual Art, Theatre including Puppetry & Storytelling, Dance and Traditional Music), which took place in Cavan, Offaly, Galway and Limerick between September and November 2011.  These sessions culminated in the National | Dialogue Arts + Health, a one-day event which explored shared outlooks for arts and health practice in Ireland with a range of stakeholders including artists, arts organisations, healthcare professionals, health service users, and others interested in the area of arts and health practice.  The event invited delegates to reflect on the challenges and opportunities presented by models of partnership and collaboration in healthcare contexts. Overall Dialogue Arts + Health provided opportunities for artists and practitioners to enter into critical discourse with their peers; to evaluate their practice; to share their experiences around the challenges and values of working in healthcare contexts and to draw encouragement from work of artistic ambition. The project was curated by the Artist Liaison, Annette Moloney.

Evaluation
Evaluation on the project was carried out by Create (the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts). Participants in the Regional Dialogue Sessions were asked to give project feedback through Evaluation Forms, which were completed after the first and the final session. At the National | Dialogue Arts + Health participants were also asked to complete a short, one page Evaluation Form. This information was collated by Create, as a key project partner, along with a Project Report from the Artists Liaison and feedback from the project Steering Group, and aims to provide a summative account of the project and a series of recommendations for the continued sustainable development of Arts and Health practice in Ireland.

Outcomes
Approximately 100 artists attended the Regional Dialogue Sessions. These artists gained access to almost nine hours of professional development workshops, Pecha Kucha style work share and Peer Critiques as well as opportunities to meet and network with their peers. Workshops were programmed in a range of artforms across the four regional locations. While the Regional Dialogue Sessions were open to artists, the National | Dialogue Arts + Health opened the discussions out to include perspectives from other key contributors to Arts and Health practice such as healthcare professionals and health service users.

Documentation & Dissemination
Documentation of Dialogue Arts + Health was developed in a number of ways including visuals, audio recordings and the commissioning of a number of artists to write Witness Writer texts. Each Regional Dialogue Session was documented visually, with the permission of participants. Examples of this documentation can be found online here on this Blog.  For the National | Dialogue Arts + Health visual and audio documentation was captured, including podcasts of the main panel discussion. These can also be accessed on this Blog which now acts as a project archive.  For the opening workshops of each of the Regional Dialogue Sessions artist Marie Brett was commissioned to explore definitions of Arts and Health practice. The text which accompanied this workshop is now available on the project archive. Also available online are copies of two artists views of the types of discussions which took place at the Regional Dialogue Sessions and the National | Dialogue Arts + Health, in the form of short Witness Writer texts commissioned from Sheelagh Broderick and Sarah Searson.

Lead Organisation
Dialogue Arts + Health was developed by the Arts + Health Coordinators Ireland (AHCI) in partnership with the Association of Local Authority Arts Officers (ALA:AO). It was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland through a one-off Projects Award.

Partners
Key partners included: South Dublin County Council; the National Centre for Arts and Health, Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the National Children’s Hospital (AMNCH); Create; Waterford Healing Arts Trust; Helium – Children’s Arts and Health; West Cork Arts Centre; Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust; HSE Cork Arts + Health Programme; the Arts Initiative in Mental Health, Údarás na Gaeltachta / Ealaíon na Gaeltachta and St. Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin. Regional partners, if not listed above, included: Cavan County Council; Cavan County Museum; Galway County Council; Limerick City Council; Offaly County Council, The Midlands Regional Hospital at Tullamore and RUA RED, Tallaght.

Funded by
The main funding support for Dialogue Arts + Health came from the Arts Council of Ireland, through a one-off Projects Award. Other funding support came through Údarás na Gaeltachta / Ealaíon na Gaeltachta.  Participants at the Regional Dialogue Sessions paid a nominal fee of 10 for three workshop sessions and those that attended the National | Dialogue Arts + Health paid 10 for individuals and 20 for organisations. A large amount to support in kind was developed for the project, particularly through the generosity of Local Authority Arts Offices including aspects of the project such as for venue hire, technical support, equipment hire and catering.