About Arts in Health
‘Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the object presented to patients are an actual means of recovery.’
At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, we deliver a varied programme of patient and staff-focused creative activities and performance as well as artistic enhancements across our five sites. Working closely with artists, musicians, and volunteers, we help to improve the experience of our patients receiving treatment, as well as those visiting and working in our hospitals.Whether it be displaying inspirational paintings and artwork on the walls, leading fun and creative workshops on our wards, or inviting musicians in to play everyone’s favourite songs, we strive to provide our patients, staff and visitors with opportunities to experience and engage with the uplifting and transformative nature of the arts in its many forms.
Our Arts in Health programme has been running since the 1990s. It is currently managed by two part-time Arts Coordinators and one full-time Arts Activities Officer who look after our Enhancing environments, Arts activities, Special projects, and Music programme, as well as our new Seven Hills Gallery.
Arts in Health benefits
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing spent two years investigating the effects of the arts on health and wellbeing and concluded that, ‘The time has come to recognise the powerful contribution the arts can make to our health and wellbeing.’
They published their report in July 2017 entitled Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing in which they present evidence that, ‘shows how arts-based approaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long-term conditions and experience a better quality of life.’
They found that ‘visual and performing arts in healthcare environments help to reduce sickness, anxiety and stress.’
Commenting on the outlook for the future they said, ‘It is predicted that, by 2040, 1.2million older people in the UK will have a dementia diagnosis…engagement with the arts can provide significant help in meeting this enormous challenge…dancing, painting or playing a musical instrument can boost brain function, potentially helping to delay the onset of dementia.’
A review of the existing evidence was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine which found that there is, ‘…increasing evidence that the display of visual art, especially images of nature, can have positive effects on health outcomes, including shorter length of stay in hospital, increased pain tolerance and decreased anxiety.’
In 2011, the British Medical Association published a paper on 'The psychological and social needs of patients' which found that, ‘Creating a therapeutic healthcare environment extends beyond the elimination of boredom. Arts and humanities programmes have been shown to have a positive effect on inpatients.
The measured improvements include:
To learn more about the research and evidence underpinning our important Arts in Health work at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, visit
All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry (2017). Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing
The National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
The Arts in Health team relies on the goodwill of our dedicated team of volunteers. We also regularly work with professional artists and musicians on a variety of creative projects across the Trust.