Getting started

There is no formal route into a career in arts and health and those who work in the arts and health sector often build up significant experience working in other areas of the arts (and indeed health) before starting to work in arts and health.

There are a number of different ways that people can find out more about arts and health and begin to pursue work in this field. These include:

Arts therapies
Arts, music and drama therapy are recognised as Associated Professions by the Health Professions Council (HPC). This means that to work as an arts therapist requires registration with the HPC.  In order to qualify as a therapist, it is necessary to undertake formal training – usually a post-graduate Masters degree. More details can be found via the professional bodies representing the different therapies.

Hospital arts programmes
Most hospitals have arts programmes and many are run by professional hospital arts co-ordinators. Occasionally vacancies are advertised for these posts – typically they require experience in arts management, understanding of clinical environments and healthcare policy and a proven interest in the impact of the arts on health. Most programmes offer volunteer opportunities and many engage artists to run workshops, give performances or to undertake commissions and residencies. All arts programmes are different and most will have web pages setting out how to get involved. Click here for links to London hospital arts programmes.

Artists and the healthcare environment
Many healthcare environments and public spaces offer commission opportunities for artists to create work specifically for display in hospitals or surgeries. A lot of hospitals also offer exhibition spaces for artists – usually operating on a sales by commission basis.

Community arts activities
Lots of arts organisations run community activities – often with the aim of impacting on the health of individuals and groups. Community choirs and music groups as well as workshops and courses are run by trained artists. Across London there are many arts organisations specifically working in this area as well as many individual artists. Many of these are detailed on the website. Many of these organisations also offer work experience, volunteering and training opportunities.

There are numerous courses across the country in arts management and community arts practice. There are also a number of courses which specialise in the field of arts, health and wellbeing often offering MAs or shorter modules about specific areas of arts and health practice.  Click here for links.

These are some of the ways in which people can develop careers in arts and health. It is worth noting that there most of the people who work in arts and health have portfolio careers – often working in a range of settings. Many opportunities are time specific or offered on a freelance basis. Fortnightly the LAHF newsletter details forthcoming opportunities (paid and voluntary) in this field. It is free – to sign up, click here.