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Arts on Prescription? - Monday 10 October 2016

Arts on Prescription? Examining the positive impact of communal singing on mental health
6.30-8.00pm, Monday 10 October 2016

Featuring: Professor Stephen Clift (Director of Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University); Vivien Ellis (Grammy nominated singer, choir leader, Arts & Health researcher); Chris Bartram and the Communitas Choir.


Held in celebration of World Mental Health Day, this evening symposium formed part of the National Centre for Early Music's exploration of the connections between the arts, health and wellbeing, which we are currently researching as a partner in Culture & Wellbeing in York . The purpose of the event was to share some of the science behind musical engagement and mental health; to demonstrate the power of music in action through live performances and interactive presentations; and to bring together diverse perspectives in discussion to map out 'next steps' for singing and wellbeing in York. The symposium involved:
As part of NCEM's larger evaluation of the impact of singing on mental wellbeing, delegates and presenters were asked to log their mood before and after the event using the Manchester Colour Wheel (a scientifically-evaluated tool developed by Professor Peter Whorwell and Doctor Helen Carruthers of the University of Manchester, which enables participants to express their mood through colour choice). Participants were also asked to select a single word to describe their mood, alongside their colour choices. Here's an image displaying the word choices before the event:

After some communal singing, vibrant discussion and a short performance, the chosen words looked more like this:

Attendees also had this to say about their experiences of the event:
  • Inspirational! A lovely evening, community-spirited, thought-provoking. Fun, engaging. Thank you!
  • Fantastic mix of cutting edge research and practical demonstrations.
  • Thank you for an enlivening evening. Congrats on packing such a huge amount into 90 mins. Feeling invigorated!
  • As someone from outside York it has been inspiring seeing what is going on in the city. Inspiring to look at what could happen in our area.
  • I thought this was a great opportunity to come together in a beautiful space.
  • Thank you for providing such a brilliant view of the progress and celebration of music's impact on the soul! It's been an inspiration!

The Arts on Prescription event was presented by the National Centre for Early Music in partnership with York St John University and Converge, with generous support from Middlethorpe Hall & Spa.

The 'faces' image at the top of the page- created by Sabba Khan using data collected as part of the Dragon Cafe at Morley Colege run by Vivien Ellis - shows the Manchester Colour Wheel in action. The 'before' and 'after' faces above show the difference in mood brought about as a result of engaging in artistic activity.