We are working with a growing range of commissioners and communities in Torbay to help residents lead healthier, happier lives. We are testing new ways of building artistic practices into the day-to-day work of other sectors, including the health sector, to help them meet their own objectives and to embed creativity into the lives of those who could benefit the most.


A key aim of Torbay’s cultural strategy is to harness the health and well-being benefits of culture. A growing amount of academic research evidences the positive clinical and social outcomes culture can provide within both health and care pathways. With Torbay and South Devon’s pioneer status for integrated health and social care, an active Healthwatch, a Community Development Trust committed to cultural activity and a network of experienced local arts and health practitioners, there is a strong base from which to develop a strategic approach to culture, health and wellbeing here.

Public and voluntary sector organisations around the country are developing new models of care, where ‘social prescribing’ and ‘guided conversations’ form the basis of preventative health work. These approaches are also being trialled here in Torbay, and we are keen to work with our partners to explore the role of arts, heritage and culture in the prevention and self-care agenda.


Our work began with the support of the Cultural Commissioning Locality Project. In the latest phase of the project, we've identified a number of initiatives through which to pilot different creative approaches and assess their impact on participants' physical and mental health and wellbeing. We will deliver:

  • Four arts, health and wellbeing ’test and learn’ programmes:
    • dance for mobility and falls prevention ('Best Foot Forward')
    • singing for wellness
    • mental health and well-being (children and young people)
    • mental health and well-being (older people)
  • Evaluation of initial arts, health and wellbeing ‘test and learn’ activities
  • Agreed next steps for implementing learning from the arts, health and wellbeing ‘test and learn’ activities, including advocacy to promote cultural commissioning to health sector partners
  • Further arts, health and wellbeing programmes pending discussions with commissioning partners.

Our Arts, Health and Wellbeing project aims to:

  • Improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of programme participants including reducing feelings of isolation
  • Identify new, cost-effective routes for health sector partners to deliver the New Model of Care through arts, culture and heritage, and support them to commission creative practitioners effectively
  • Develop commission-ready creative practitioners who have opportunities to deliver their work in the health sector.

Watch a short film about Best Foot Forward and help secure the future of this life-changing dance programme for older people:


Oversight of this programme is provided by the Joint Prevention Board. Key delivery partners are Torbay Culture and Arts Network (TCAN), Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Torbay and South Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Public Health Torbay. The artists leading projects in the four 'test and learn' programmes are:

Dance for Mobility and Falls Prevention - Dance in Devon

Singing for Wellness - Wren Music, Hugh Nankivell

Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing for Children and Young People - Daisi, Doorstep Arts, Participate Arts, Sound Communities, Wren Music

Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing for Older People - Promenade Promotions, Sound Communities

The Arts, Health and Wellbeing project is funded by Arts Council England, the Health Foundation and Torbay Medical Research Fund, and is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of Torbay's Great Place Scheme.

If you would like to know more about our work in this area, please contact Kate Farmery by emailing


The outline timescales for this project are as follows:

April 2017: Appoint programme manager - complete.
May 2017 - March 2018: Commissioning and delivery of four test and learn programmes - underway.
September 2017 - April 2018: Evaluation of test and learn programmes - underway.
April - August 2018: Dissemination of initial learning.
August 2018: Review of progress to date and plan for next steps.

“Emotional health and well-being are more about place than about services. The role that Torbay Culture plays in building communities, treating opportunities and addressing a sense of belonging is so important. We will continue to work with Torbay Culture to build community resourcefulness as well as delivering the focused work we are already doing, including to promote respiratory (lung) health and prevent falls through singing and dance. We look forward to seeing the evaluation of these specific projects so we can include this learning into future commissioning.”

– Dr Caroline Dimond, Director of Public Health Torbay