School of Health in Social Science

Art is Everywhere

Active And Creative Communities Arts Development: Social Prescribing, Sustainable Strategic Planning And Breaking Down Barriers Across Sectors In North Lanarkshire

Art is Everywhere was initiated in 2022 and developed as a response to the post Covid-19 Futures Commission call to adopt a social prescribing approach to healthcare as a priority. Using a range of arts-informed approaches (dance, theatre, photography, film, fine art, murals from upcycled materials, digital art, podcasts and more), we engaged with a range of communities in North Lanarkshire from early years to school children; college students to healthy aging demographics; multiple ethnicities; people in care and others to address inequalities through the arts. Our arts-informed work in North Lanarkshire – which posits art and creative-relational inquiry as evidence alongside traditional qualitative and quantitative measures of evidence – builds on an ongoing programme of research led by Dr Marisa de Andrade at the University of Edinburgh called Measuring Humanity, which aims to influence policy and practice at local, national and international levels.  

Our intention was to collaborate with Community Learning & Development, Education & Families Social Work, Social Justice, Health Improvement and other teams across key council services. The Arts Development team co-led the project with the University of Edinburgh and allied with key strategic partners including Edgehill University, NHS Lanarkshire, Scottish Community Safety Network, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire, and Tron Theatre. At the end of the project, our reach and partnership was far wider engaging with hundreds of community members across the socio-economic spectrum; other community organisations; North Lanarkshire College; local artists working across every medium; and more.

‘Art is Everywhere’ also went on to become one of the local community asset hubs in a follow up UKRI consortium hub – REALITIES in Health Disparities – to tackle health inequalities through the AHRC-led health disparities programme connecting with further partners including Scottish Opera, Dancebase, APEX, Architecture and Design Scotland & others.  

To reach our vision, we co-produced six strategic aims informed by North Lanarkshire’s place-based positionality using the Human Learning Systems (HLS) approach designed by Professor Toby Lowe at Centre for Public Impact (CPI). The internationally acclaimed approach used by multiple Governments, Councils and other organisations is grounded in the belief that ‘public service exists to support human freedom and flourishing’. 

This project has also successfully been integrated into high-profile follow up grants from the the National Lottery Heritage Fund & Historic Environment Scotland for ongoing work:

Funded by the AHRC place-based programme:

Find out more about Art is Everywhere alongside the other 8 AHRC place-based Knowledge Exchange awards across the UK