Willis Newson wins RSPH Arts and Health Award

23 September 2010

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has awarded Willis Newson its 2010 award for ‘outstanding contributions to arts and health practice and research’. The award recognises Willis Newson’s work on the Arts Council England funded Reach initiative, which encouraged arts organisations and public health providers to work in partnership to tackle health inequalities in local communities.

The Reach initiative (2006-2010) brought together 15 collaborating health and arts partners,11 individual artists and 12 funders. The projects involved ranged from work with black and minority ethnic older people in known areas of social isolation or income deprivation, to an exploration of the context and behavioural patterns and choices associated with eating and physical activity among adolescents.

Professor Stephen Clift, Chair of the judges, said that the awards committee was particularly impressed by the Reach initiative’s “clear focus on addressing health inequalities, the geographical reach of the project, the excellent partnership work involved, the variety of creative art forms drawn upon and the clear commitment to monitoring and evaluation.”

At a regional level the partners have shared experiences and learning and an external evaluation has considered the challenges and successes of partnership delivery of arts and health projects. Three critical success factors were emphasised in this: the need for joint working and the development of collaborative approaches; the need for a good “fit” with existing commissioning opportunities; and a requirement for thinking “outside the box” and addressing health issues in a creative and imaginative way.  Each individual partnership project was also the subject of a stand-alone service evaluation.

Visit the project page for Reach to find out more. There you can also download a case study and the regional evaluation final report and even follow a link to watch a short film about the project.