Major new European cooperation focuses on the health-promoting potentials of arts and culture

CultureForHealth is the title of a new, large-scale European project funded by the European Commission. Until 2023, researchers and actors from the cultural, social and health areas throughout Europe will develop the field \”Culture as health promotion\”. Those interested in the field can now contribute via the new digital European platform:

\”What is the role of culture in improving health and wellbeing? How can we create change through culture by impacting European, national, regional or local policymaking?” The CultureForHealth project aims to answer these questions.

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Rebecca Vats Jonsson. Classical guitar player

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Culture has always been known to affect people in many ways and to contribute to a better quality of life. But in recent years the focus has increasingly been on how engagement with the arts and culture can not only improve our quality of life, but also can provide a significant positive effect on a wide variety of health conditions. Health Evidence Network synthesis report 67 

Nils Fietje, Technical Officer at the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe: “In many countries, governments often aspire to work in multi-sectoral ways, in order to increase efficiencies and improve outcomes. Arts and health activities present a real opportunity for two very different sectors to actually work together on viable projects that have significant benefits for both sides.”

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Nils Fietje, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Technical Officer © Niels Åge Skovbo

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Nils Fitje is part of the project\’s advisory board. WHO has helped put culture as a health promotion on the world map with a groundbreaking report on the field, which was published in 2019.

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Broad European partnership on culture for health

CultureForHealth is a project co-funded by the European Commission with partners from all over Europe, consisting of Culture Action Europe, Trans Europe Halles, Central Denmark Region, The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture, Centrul Cultural Clujean, and Društvo Asociacija. The project will last 18 months, ending in May 2023.

During this time the project will host three study trips aiming at cross-sectorial collaboration and policy development between the cultural and health sector creating meaningful and supported cross-sectorial collaboration between culture and health sectors by bringing together professionals from both sides of the table.

The first event was held in the historic and modern cultural city of Aarhus, Denmark, and gathered practitioners, researchers and decision makers from 15 European countries. This event and future policy workshops in Italy and Romania will result in policy recommendations for the European Commission.

New European home of culture for health

Part of the project activities are to create a an extensive and inspirating database of projects and programmes of arts and culture for health and well-being. The website will feature a new database and inspirational catalogue, which will gather knowledge about the field and strengthen the tailwind that is within the field for the benefit of the whole of Europe.

Therefore CultureForHealth is now looking for contributors to the project mapping at

Project researchers will provide an extensive desk research on arts and culture for health and well-being, as well as a massive mapping of existing arts and health projects and policies. If you work within this cross-sectorial field, or if you know about a project focusing on arts& health you can now add your project or programme to the database on, which will become the new European home for knowledge on cross-sectoral actions on culture, health and well-being.

Well attended visit to a European pioneer region

On 16-18 March this year, 45 specially invited researchers, politicians, cultural and health actors from 15 European countries met in Aarhus in Denmark to experience one of Europe\’s most active regions in the field of Culture for health and well-being.

The guests experienced new health services and research projects, including live music in intensive care units and reading groups for expectant parents at Aarhus University Hospital and museum visits for people with dementia in the open-air museum, The Old Town.

Policy recommendations for cross-sectorial collaboration

During the visit also a hybrid round table discussion on the topic \”Culture and Health: Treatment and Management\” took place. The main aim of the discussion was to raise awareness and understanding of culture and health interventions and to highlight the need for policy decisions that support this practice. Results of the discussion and also future policy workshops will result in policy recommendations for the European Commission.

Monica Urian, Policy Officer from the European Commission, Directorate General Education and Culture, took part in the round table discussion on Arts and Culture for Health and Well-being:

\”Arts and culture have been essential for health and well-being since the dawn of humankind. Both access to culture and access to healthcare are human rights and need to be more connected. The most recent collective traumas- the covid 19 crisis and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine- show the role arts and culture can play in alleviating human suffering, in creating and maintaining communities, in giving a more humane face to the healthcare system. It is our responsibility as Europeans, as culture and health professionals, as human beings, to do everything we can to help our societies heal. This is the reason why the European Commission and the European Parliament are supporting the project CultureForHealth,\” (Monica Urian)

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Monica Urian, Policy Officer, European Commission, Directorate General Education and Culture © Niels Åge Skovbo

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About CultureForHealth

CultureForHealth is a project co-funded by the European Commission with partners from all over Europe: Culture Action Europe, Trans Europe Halles, Central Denmark Region, The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture, Cluj Cultural Centre, and Društvo Asociacija.

CultureForHealth brings researchers, practitioners and policymakers together to generate knowledge, research and fieldwork in order to trigger cross-sectoral cooperation and policies that enhance well-being through culture. The initiative will also institute six pilot projects in Denmark, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia aiming at “management and treatment” of illnesses as well as “prevention and promotion” for a variety of life stages and age groups.

Read more and contribute to the mapping:


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