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Aesop presents its second Arts in Health Conference & Showcase for Health decision makers in April, with special guest speaker Dame Darcey Bussell DBE.

PRESS RELEASE – Thursday 1st February 2018

Building on the success of Aesop’s first national Arts in Health Conference & Showcase in 2016 at the Southbank Centre, the event is back from 9.45am – 6pm on Thursday 19 April 2018 at Milton Court, in partnership with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the College of Medicine.

For the second Conference & Showcase, the focus is on how the arts are contributing to current health priorities: reducing demands on the health system, addressing the neglect of mental health, supporting an ageing population and tackling health inequalities.

Tim Joss, Aesop Chief Executive and Founder says –

We created the Conference & Showcase to help the health sector draw on the fantastic resources of the UK’s world-leading arts sector. The first edition in 2016 was a big success. As NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Innovation tweeted, ‘Awesome, Inspiring, Brilliant, Game Changing – we need more of this!’ There’s still lots to do. A 2017 All Party Parliamentary Group report found ‘the UK is still very far from realising more than a small modicum of the potential contribution of the arts to health and wellbeing’. The Conference & Showcase returns at a time when the health system faces even greater challenges and, encouragingly, the arts sector’s interest in helping improve the national’s health is growing.
Our contributors, partners and funders are essential for mounting this event. We are immensely grateful to all of them’.

Confirmed speakers include: Dame Darcey Bussell DBE President of the Royal Academy of Dance & Founder of Diverse Dance Mix, Professor Gillian Leng CBE NICE Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health & Social Care, Professor Tim Kendall NHS England National Clinical Director for Mental Health, Dr Martin Vernon NHS England National Clinical Director for Older People and Noel Gordon, Chair at NHS Digital, NHS England Non-Executive Director & Board member.

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE, President of the Royal Academy of Dance & Founder of Diverse Dance Mix says –

‘We know we have a crisis in health in the UK. This is unacceptable and must be successfully overcome. From my experience I am convinced that dance and dance fitness can make a meaningful, impactful and cost effective contribution and I will do everything I can to champion it’.

The event will showcase 24 arts programmes already helping deliver current health priorities. Each will feature a presentation of the programme, testament from beneficiaries and health and cost-effectiveness perspectives.

Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of Council, College of Medicine and National Clinical Champion for Social Prescribing (NHS England) says –

‘The arts have a huge role to play in health and healing. Research is beginning to show how cost-effective they can be in recovery and improving mental and physical resilience and  thus reducing calls on our conventional health service.  Indeed the NHS is not sustainable unless we begin to make much better use of the arts and other non-biomedical community resources as increasing demands will always outstrip available money and clinicians’.

As well as the showcase, the day will include strategy inspiration from health and arts leaders and the announcement of Aesop initiatives to help bring the arts into the health mainstream.

Professor Helena Gaunt, Vice Principal and Director of Guildhall Innovation at Guildhall School of Music & Drama says –

‘The Guildhall School is delighted to be hosting this year’s conference and showcase in Milton Court. It is essential that we work together across sectors to realise the game changing potential of the arts in contributing to health and well-being. Current momentum, in spite of the many challenges, is beginning to indicate what may be achieved. As well as making arts and health a priority research area at the Guildhall School, we are now extending our engagement in continuing professional development and professional training for arts practitioners, to enable them to build relevant specialist skills’.

The day will be facilitated by Vivienne Parry OBE, science writer and broadcaster.

The full line-up of arts in health programmes presenting at the Conference & Showcase will be announced later this month.

Tickets are £95 (plus booking fee) and include the day’s events, lunch and refreshments.

The Conference and Showcase will take place from 9.45am – 6pm on Thursday 19th April 2018 at Guildhall School of Music & Drama Milton Court, 1 Milton Street, London EC2Y 9BH.

Tickets available to buy online now from –

For more information email or call 01993 870 161.

Dancing at Dance to Health Launch Event

Aesop launches the roll-out of Dance to Health at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London

The £2.3 million expansion of Dance to Health was officially launched on Thursday 5th October 2017 at the Great Hall, St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Guest speakers at the launch included Arts Council England Area Director, South East Hedley Swain, Royal Society for Public Health Chief Executive Shirley Cramer CBE, and Sir Stephen ‘O Brien, Trustee of Bart’s Charity.

Dance to Health is an older people’s falls prevention dance programme, combining evidence based physiotherapy with the creativity and energy of dance. The expanded programme will run for two years from October 2017 involving over 800 older people and 800 volunteers. 63 programmes will be delivered across England and Wales in collaboration with regional Health and Dance Partners.

Hedley Swain spoke at the launch event on behalf of Darren Henley OBE Chief Executive, Arts Council England saying –

Society is facing many challenges around our physical and mental health and wellbeing. The arts can help in so many ways; Dance to Health is great example of bold thinking and imaginative partnerships that use arts and culture to bring about change for the better. The arts and wellbeing agenda is hugely important to the Arts Council and we hope that initiatives like Dance to Health will continue to make a tangible difference to participants’ lives across the country.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health also spoke at the event saying –

“Dance for Health is not only cost effective compared to other interventions for falls prevention in older people but it also plays into other vital health agendas including reducing social isolation, improving mental health and showing that exercise can be fun and enriching”.

Tim Joss, Aesop Chief Executive and Founder says –

“Aesop is thrilled to launch this £2.3 million expansion of Dance to Health in six regions in England and Wales – Birmingham, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and South Wales. Our vision is for older people everywhere to have easy access to Dance to Health. With the wonderful Dance Partners and Health Partners on board for this phase, we are taking a major step towards realising that vision”.

The expansion programme is being delivered thanks to generous support from the Big Lottery Fund, Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Peter Sowerby Foundation, Rank Foundation, and the Aged Veterans Fund funded by HM Treasury.

Regional Health and Social Care Partners have also financially supported the roll out of the programme including Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Cheshire East Council, Connected Care Partnership (NHS Vanguard in Sandwell and West Birmingham), NHS Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, Royal British Legion care homes and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

Dance to Health has been awarded £950,000 of National Lottery funding. Commenting on the investment, Joe Ferns, UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director, at the Big Lottery Fund, said:

“Throughout October we are celebrating how National Lottery funding is playing a significant part in tackling isolation and loneliness across the UK. Dance to Health is an inspiring project that offers fun and sociable group activity, helping older people to lead happier and healthier lives. We are delighted to be funding such as amazing initiative, all thanks to National Lottery players.”

Nesta in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport awarded the project £246,919 from the Second Half Fund. Carrie Deacon, Head of Social Action Innovation Nesta says –

‘’We are excited to help grow Aesop’s Dance to Health initiative, combining the creativity of dance practice with well evidenced based falls prevention models.  We think this has great potential to support many more people avoid falls, and are particularly excited to support the model to draw upon the talents of older people to share their knowledge and skills through volunteering to help enable it to grow sustainable”.

Dance to Health is delivered in partnership with regional Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations; Birmingham Royal Ballet, Cheshire Dance, Dance East, South East Dance and Yorkshire Dance. In Wales, the programme is delivered in partnership with National Dance Company Wales.

To find out more about the programme and how to get involved visit and follow #DancetoHealth