HARP Nourish

15 March 2021

Responding directly to the needs arising out of the pandemic, and recognising that innovation is taking place throughout the sector at the moment, we are aiming to learn more about how the arts can help health and care systems with their biggest challenges.

In the face of Covid-19 we know good innovations now need support to develop and thrive.

In partnership with Arts Council of Wales, the HARP Nourish (Scale and Sustain) programme is about collaborating to help – or ‘nourish’ – great arts and health innovations to learn more about their impact and how they might become embedded in health places.

What is the HARP Nourish programme?

HARP (Health, Arts, Research, People) is about innovation, research and learning.  Responding directly to the needs arising out of the pandemic, and recognising that innovation is taking place throughout the sector at the moment, we are aiming to learn more about how the arts can help health and care systems with their biggest challenges during Covid-19 and how impactful arts innovations within health and care settings can grow and survive longer term

What’s involved in the HARP Nourish programme?

Between Mar 2021 and Mar 2022, we are working alongside a cohort of ten partnerships between health and arts organisations, as they deliver and develop arts and health innovations, identifying their own goals and challenges which they share with the network of partnerships and work together to make progress on.  Ultimately, the project is about learning – not just on an individual project basis but across the whole cohort.  

What are we hoping to learn about?

As a learning programme, we are working with the Nourish teams to establish how it might be possible to achieve:

  • More sustainable funding models for arts and health projects
  • Robust evidence of the impact of the arts on people and health / care systems
  • A shared understanding of the value of the arts between health and arts partners
  • A range of inclusive, high-quality arts projects for health
  • Clear pathways for people to access the arts

Each partnership is working independently on their own goals and impact, supported by a HARP Coach and the Y Lab Research Fellow.  The whole cohort is also coming together across the year to share learning, skills and knowledge in webinars facilitated by the Wales Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network in partnership with Y Lab and the Nesta People Powered Results team.  These sessions are guided by the partnerships based on the challenges and assets the cohort identifies themselves.

The focus is on collaborative learning (as well as more technical training where required) – so we are creating spaces – whole cohort webinars and more focused topic learning groups –  where projects can learn from each other and contribute to a better collective understanding of both delivery and impact of arts and health projects.  Together, we will be looking to the future, identifying what it will take for ideas to survive and grow, and what needs to happen to make this possible.

From May 2021, we will be publishing monthly summaries of our learning and progress. These will be available on our website and circulated via the Wales Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network newsletter.


Since this programme is also a research project, we will work with all projects to observe and measure the outcomes and impact of the programme, both on participants and organisations. 


Grants of up to around £35,000 have been made to each of the ten partnerships, made possible by the Arts Council of Wales, through their Lottery funds for arts and health. 

What are we hoping to achieve through HARP Nourish?

Ultimately, new and better solutions to the health and care system’s current challenges. Whether the teams would like to conduct more relevant or impactful evaluations, support more people, engage health system leaders or a combination of these (or indeed something else), the HARP Nourish programme is designed to help them meet these goals as well as delivering real benefit to their people.

We know that collaborative innovation is crucial in helping the very best ideas to grow and survive, so the safe and supportive space of the programme allows the projects to approach their development by drawing on a wide network of skills and knowledge to get the very best outcomes.

Who are we working with?

To be eligible for participation in HARP Nourish the projects met the following criteria:

  • The project is based in Wales, delivering to people who live in Wales
  • The idea is well-formed and has ideally already been tested with participants
  • There is a strong team, with named health, arts and evaluation partners
  • The project seeks to meet a clear local need in one of the following HARP priority areas in Wales, either:
    • supporting the health and care workforce; 
    • building the resilience of people with mental or physical health challenges; and/or
    • improving the health of marginalised, underrepresented or at-risk groups of people
  • The team is ambitious around impact and has a commitment to learning
  • All partners are committed to long term sustainability and have some early ideas of how this might be possible
  • There is demonstrable leadership support from within the health and care sector 
  • The health place has supplied 10% match funding to the project (cash or in-kind)
  • 10% of total budget is ring fenced for evaluation/research

HARP is delivered by Y Lab, in partnership with Arts Council of Wales, the Wales Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network, the Welsh NHS Confederation and Nesta’s People Powered Results team.