15 March 2021

In partnership with Arts Council of Wales, the HARP Seed programme is about collaborating to generate – or ‘seed’ – those initial great ideas and innovate at pace

In the face of COVID-19 we know new ideas and approaches in arts and health are now needed.

In partnership with Arts Council of Wales, the HARP Seed (research and development) programme is about collaborating to generate – or ‘seed’ – those initial great ideas and innovate at pace. 

What is the HARP Seed programme?

HARP – Health, Arts, Research, People – is an innovation partnership between Arts Council of Wales and Y Lab (Cardiff University & Nesta), to explore how we can generate, grow and learn about impactful creative innovations that support the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales.

Responding 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. 

We have worked with health organisations to identify three challenges that matter to them at the moment.  They have been paired with six artists (two per team) to work with to generate and develop new creative ideas to help them meet their challenges.

Who are the health organisations, and what are their challenges for HARP Seed?

We are working with three teams on the following health and care challenges:

  • Health Education and Improvement Wales, Ali Goolyad and Eric Ngalle Charles: Telling the story of Black healthcare workers during the pandemic 
  • New Pathways, Jain Boon and Matilda Tonkin- Wells: building the resilience of rape and sexual abuse survivors across Wales
  • Denbighshire County Council, Steffan Donnelly and Mari Gwent: Supporting front-line care staff across Denbighshire county to manage the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic

Now that the teams are formed, they are coming together on a regular basis through webinars and meetings, supported by a HARP Challenge Coach and the Y Lab Research Fellow.  At these sessions we are taking the teams through a design process of setting goals, mapping access points and assets, before designing, testing and evaluating new creative activities to meet their goals.  This builds on the work of the HARP Sprint in summer 2020 and will be facilitated in partnership with Nesta’s People Powered Results team, who focus on structured innovation programmes that support inclusive, collaborative and rapid change within complex systems such as healthcare.

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.

We know that collaborative innovation leads to better ideas

We know that collaborative innovation leads to better ideas, so the safe and supportive space of the programme will allow the teams to approach their challenge by drawing on skills, knowledge and networks from across all the Seed teams to get the very best outcome for their organisations and their people. 


Grants of £3,000 have been made to the artists on the challenge teams.  Additional seed funding for health places to commission artists and test ideas once they are developed has also been made available.

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.