Arts Council England Chief Darren Henley spoke at a launch event for The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University on Friday 23 February.

This major work was launched with an array of performances, workshops and presentations exploring many perspectives on the relationship between arts and wellbeing. Colleagues from the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, US and Argentina presented their contributions, discussed their perspectives and encouraged participants to engage with the topic through performances and workshops.

In recent years, a growth in dance and wellbeing scholarship has resulted in new ways of thinking that place the body, movement, and dance in a central place with renewed significance for wellbeing.

The new Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing, a large text book of 1000 pages with over 90 contributors from around the world, examines dance and related movement practices from the perspectives of neuroscience and health, community and education, and psychology and sociology.

Professor Vicky Karkou, Chair of Arts, Dance and Wellbeing at Edge Hill, is one of the book’s editors. She said: “I have spent over 25 years studying the area of arts psychotherapies and related fields, with focus on dance for wellbeing and movement psychotherapy, so it’s extremely exciting to have been so involved in this new book and to launch it at Edge Hill. Arts for Wellbeing is a key research theme for the University on which we are continuing to build.”

Professor Karkou and fellow Edge Hill academics Dr Mark Edward and June Gersten Roberts, who also contributed chapters to the book, were among those presenting their work on the day.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “Engaging in arts and culture can transform everyone’s life – young and old – and have a positive effect on both individuals and communities. From easing loneliness to enabling people to learn new skills to helping those with dementia or mental health issues, taking part in activities such as art or dance classes or visiting a museum can give a great sense of wellbeing. We’re passionate about ensuring that everyone has access to opportunities to enjoy arts and culture and I’m delighted to support the launch of The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing.”

Pictures from the event: