Abstract arts, red, blue and pink splatter

Programme of Work

Health | Arts | Research | People

Launched in 2019, our Arts and Health programme, HARP, aims to increase our understanding of how the arts can play a more prominent role in people’s wellbeing in Wales.


Can the arts improve the health and wellbeing of people in Wales?

Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are in the process of making some changes to the activities and timescales in the HARP programme. Read Rosie's blog to find out more, and get in touch if you want to share any ideas with us about how we might help the arts and health sector in Wales respond to the crisis. 


What we’re doing

In 2020, using the People Powered Results method, we will convene and coach small, diverse teams of health board staff, artists, patients and other connected stakeholders, to test new ideas in the health system using the arts, over an intensive 100 day period. 


Each Health Board will choose a patient group they want to work with and where, for example dementia in a hospital setting, stroke rehabilitation or bridging the gap between community and inpatient mental health services.  


Core to this is bringing about real change for patients using the arts and addressing key system challenges such as waiting lists, workforce planning or medication use (for example). We are looking to develop mindsets and cultures, as well as systems and services. 



  • Encouraging positive changes for Health Boards, from staff development and engagement to system change and ensuring that they deliver on current policy and legislation;
  • Learning how to make arts and health projects scalable and sustainable
  • Making a high-quality contribution to the Welsh arts and health evidence base
  • Sharing our learning far and wide to grow our impact beyond the programme, including with arts & health practitioners, arts organisations, policy makers and the research community
  • Involving people who care about arts and health more broadly, so that we can both support them and draw on their experiences to make the programme as impactful as possible.

We believe that the arts can, and must, play an important role in helping to achieve the aims of A Healthier Wales and the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.

Who will be involved

The HARP programme is a partnership between Y Lab (Nesta & Cardiff University), the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh NHS Confederation.


Improving health and wellbeing

HARP will bring Y Lab’s expertise in innovation and research in public services to help address the question of how best to embed, sustain and scale the use of high quality arts interventions in healthcare, and address key health challenges across Wales.

Y Lab’s research, conducted with stakeholders in both the arts and health in 2019, indicated that innovation is needed across the whole ecosystem of arts and health, from evidence gathering to service development and changing organisational cultures. We also know that change in healthcare will be most effective and long lasting if it is driven by the people who are closest to patients (and, of course, by patients themselves), with the right support from senior leaders and a culture of collaboration. 


Evidence and learning

The impact of this programme on the patients, staff and systems involved will be studied by Research Fellow, Dr Sofia Vougioukalou. The findings will be used to inform future service development for arts and health far beyond the teams and organisations involved. We see this as a project that will benefit the whole ecosystem of arts and health in Wales.


Want to get involved? 

Get in touch with Rosie Dow, Programme Manager, to talk about being involved.