Leading experts at Edge Hill University have collaborated with prominent arts therapists from around the globe to explore the impact of the arts on health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Professor Vicky Karkou, Director of the University’s Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing, joined experts from the International Arts Therapies Doctoral Alliance and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a virtual discussion titled Arts and Therapies in the Time of the Pandemic

Guest speakers and panellists presented research on the physiological and psychological benefits of the arts, including the prevention and treatment of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Discussions focused on the contributions that arts therapies can make to tackle isolation, loneliness, offer opportunities for resilience and support wellbeing. 

Prof Karkou, who is also the Chair of Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill, said: “During unprecedented times such as this, the need to get resourced, connected and resilient becomes vital. The arts can play an important role to meet this need.” 

The online summit featured a series of presentations, panel discussions and workshops that have all been recorded and showcased online

It includes a keynote presentation by Christopher Bailey, WHO Arts & Health Lead. In his address, Christopher explored the healing power of the arts.  

He said: “Empathy is the driver of the arts. It is also the driver of healthcare. The notion of the magic ‘what if’ is to take information from around you and imagine what could be. The arts serve a different purpose – it is to create an emotional reality by which we can understand what is happening.  

“When the Covid-19 pandemic began to arise…there were new rumours of potential cures or treatments, or denials that it was even happening and anger that we didn’t have all of the information up front. All of this is not a surprise, it is a human reaction, because when faced with little information, we always try and find the narrative and it’s very hard to accept when the narrative hasn’t been written yet.” 

You can listen online to other guest speakers including Dr Nisha Sajnani, New York University; Professor Felicity Baker, University of Melbourne; Dr Azizah Abdullah, University Utara Malaysia; Monique Hill, Drama Therapy Online; Leah Gipson, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Stefanie Belnavis, Lesley University, and Claudia Zanini, Universidade Federal de Goáis. 

The Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing engages in multidisciplinary research activities, drawing expertise across three main strands: research on performance, community/workplace projects and clinical research.  

More information about the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing can be found on its website