HARP: About Seed

30 October

Seed is a strand of the HARP programme, focused on research and development. Find out more about what we are looking for in this strand and how to apply. 

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. 


  • Are you working in a health board or trust, a local authority (in a health or care context), a social care setting, or a non-profit health or care organisation located in Wales?
  • Do you have a particular challenge around any of the following areas at present:
    • 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
  • Do you think a creative and/or innovative approach could help with this challenge, but you need support to access contacts and/or funding to test new arts and health ideas within your organisation?
  • Or, are you an artist or arts organisation in Wales who wants to work with new health places and adapt your practice around Covid-19?
  • Are you committed to learning and finding new solutions in partnership with others?

If so, the HARP Seed programme could be for you.

What is the HARP Seed programme?

HARP (Health, Arts, Research, People) is about supporting innovation and learning.  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, particularly those listed above.
  • How to develop high quality, Covid-safe arts activities for peoples’ health and wellbeing that promote equality, diversity and inclusion
  • How impactful arts innovations within health and care settings can grow and survive longer term

What’s involved in participating in the HARP Seed programme?

Between Dec 2020 and Mar/Apr 2021, we will support small teams of people from across arts, health and social care organisations to come together in teams to design and test new creative activities that meet key health system challenges. We anticipate there will be 3-4 core people on each team - artists or arts organisations and health and care workers, supported by a leader or sponsor in the relevant health/care setting, experts with lived experience and the HARP team.


There will be 4-5 teams in total, each one focusing on a different health challenge / cohort.  Once formed, each team will come 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 will take you through a design process of setting goals, mapping access points and assets, before designing, testing and evaluating new creative activities to meet your goals.  This builds on the work of the recent HARP Sprint 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.

What’s the time commitment?

Participating teams will need to commit to 1 hour webinars with the HARP team, every 1-2 weeks for around 3 months, with longer introductory and wrap-up sessions. We anticipate that much of the work will then take place independently in your teams outside these sessions.  For more information about how this might work, and some testimonials, please take a look at our recent HARP Sprint project, and/or do get in touch with us at [email protected]

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.

What are the benefits for me and our organisation?

Ultimately, new and better solutions to one of your current challenges.  We know that collaborative innovation leads to better ideas, so the safe and supportive space of the programme will allow you to approach your challenge by drawing on skills, knowledge and networks from across all the Seed teams to get the very best outcome for your organisation and your cohort. In the webinars, facilitated by the HARP team, you will take part in creative and engaging activities that will help you tackle your challenge, and you will also be assigned a HARP Coach to keep in touch with your progress and be a sounding board for ideas and challenges.


Who can apply?

Health places: health boards, NHS trusts, local authorities working in a health or care context, social care settings and non-profit health organisations (charities, CICs, etc.). We would be looking for participation across: 

  • Practitioners engaged in front line work, managing front line teams, or with a remit around workforce 
  • Leaders within the health place to provide sponsorship

Arts places: artists (including freelancers) and arts organisations.

We believe there is strength in diversity, so we are looking for a range of projects, and a diverse team of people to take part. All teams will be expected to address equity, diversity and inclusion in their programmes - and health challenges that target marginalised and at-risk groups as well as the identified priority areas are especially encouraged.

What’s the application process?

There are three stages to forming the challenge teams:

  1. We are first inviting health places to express interest to us by identifying and articulating their challenges.  Expressions of interest for health places are open now via this link and will close at 10am on 23 Nov. This will be followed by a call with a Challenge Coach from the HARP team to discuss the challenge further. These conversations will focus on understanding your issue more, to explore the leadership commitment to support the Seed R&D programme, and help you to consider how to effectively build the conditions for innovation within your context. Following these conversations we will confirm the health places’ participation in the sandpit.


  1. Once the health places’ involvement is confirmed and we know what the challenges are, we will publicly invite arts places to express interest in participating in a challenge team. Where health places have pre-established relationships with artists and arts organisations we would also welcome these applications. Information on the challenges and how artists can apply will be on this page of the website around 4 Dec , to apply by 16 Dec.


  1. We will invite shortlisted health and arts places to attend a Sandpit event the week commencing 4 Jan (we’ll share the exact date when we invite artists and arts organisations to apply). Here we will facilitate a matchmaking process based on mutual interests and complementary skills, before the teams are fully selected.


Weekly webinars to begin the design process with teams will start later in Jan 2021.



Grants of £3,000 are available to artist and arts organisations who are selected to join a challenge team, as well as additional seed funding for health places to commission artists and test ideas. This funding has been made possible by Arts Council of Wales Lottery funding.

Shortlisted artists or arts organisations that are invited to the Sandpit event are not guaranteed a place on a challenge team, however we will offer them a payment of £125 (equivalent to 0.5 days at Arts Council of Wales day rates) to attend the event.

If you are a very small non-profit health organisation and concerned about finances to take part, we encourage you to get in touch with us ([email protected]), as additional support may be available to you.

If you already have a more formed arts and health idea..

Your project may be more suited to the HARP Nourish programme.

HARP Briefing Webinar

We held webinars to explain more about the programme. A recording is below.

HARP Seed and Nourish Briefing Webinar from


I have a question 

We encourage you to take a look at the FAQs page and we are here to answer questions and help you explore how your idea or challenge fits with the HARP Programme. Please get in touch with the team by emailing [email protected] 

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.

Main Image: Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Image shows three lottery funding logos for Arts Council Wales, National Lottery and Welsh Government