A new year-long programme of cultural activities and events, Cultures of Creative Health, has been launched by the University of Huddersfield’s School of Arts and Humanities.

The programme focuses on a range of public realm projects including knowledge and cultural exchange with artists, researchers and creative health providers across West Yorkshire.

It follows on from previous ‘Cultures Of’ projects, most recently the 2023 Cultures of Sound which saw the university take part in Kirklees Year of Music.

The concept of creative health involves creative approaches and activities that have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, which can range from visual and performing arts through to gardening.

It can also cover innovative ways to approach health and care services, to try to promote improved health and potentially ease pressure on the NHS.

The school’s previous research in collaboration with the School of Human and Health Sciences and Business School, backed by £300,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has explored how to build a consortia of creative and cultural providers to help address health inequalities in West Yorkshire.

This is linked to the recent announcement in December 2023 of a collaboration between Mayor Tracy Brabin and the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership Board.

The region will become a ‘Creative Health System’, which will help to drive forward creative initiatives designed to make people feel happier and healthier.

Dr Rowan Bailey, director of enterprise and knowledge exchange, reader in cultural theory and practice and director of the Centre for Cultural Ecologies in Art, Design and Architecture, said: “We have curated a range of activities that will run throughout the academic year, in our gallery spaces on campus and in the town.

“These include Knowledge and Cultural Exchange projects with creative health providers, creative residencies, exhibitions, talks and performances that will involve external partners and researchers from across West Yorkshire, and further afield, to work around creative health.

“We have also embedded creative health as live briefs into the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum.

“On our postgraduate courses, for example, students are engaging with the development of health and wellbeing activities for the Year of Culture in Wakefield and the Year of Culture in Calderdale.

“We are reaching out to make a difference across West Yorkshire as well as here in Kirklees, tying in with what Mayor Tracy Brabin has been calling the creative health system for West Yorkshire.

“There is a lot of data and evidence out there that informs us that if a person engages in creative health activity alongside their general health and wellbeing, they can improve their health considerably.

“Cultures of Creative Health will explore how culture can enable all kinds of capabilities in a person’s life.”