Published: 09 Oct 2023

Two women sit at a table smiling while taking part in a creative activity

Image: Sensory Workshops for Elders Joanna Young, Photo credit: Erika Stevenson

£293,199 of support has been awarded to 13 organisations across Scotland from the Participatory Arts & Mental Health Fund, helping to improve participatory arts and mental health provision in their local communities.

Launched by Creative Scotland in a new partnership with The Baring Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation with backing from The National Lottery, initial funding for this work has been doubled from £145,000 to £239,199 to be able to help local groups and organisations increase people’s access to more opportunities.

Awards include intergenerational multi-sensory dance workshops in Glasgow; exploring disability and mental health through film-arts in rural Scottish Borders; an innovative social prescribing programme empowering Caithness practitioners and residents; and connecting young people to artists for a collaborative and transformative experience in Stirling.

Kim Simpson, Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion at Creative Scotland said:

“The theme of World Mental Health Day 2023 is ‘mental health is a universal human right’. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to accessing cultural rights as it starts in different places for different people, and this mix of projects deeply rooted in their communities and audiences highlight the effectiveness of this.

“They demonstrate a range of innovative models which engage different communities right across Scotland.  Thanks to The National Lottery and this successful partnership with Mental Health Foundation and The Baring Foundation, we hope this funding acts a seed planted of Arts in health and social care that will continue to bloom.”

Socially engaged Dance Artists from Independent Arts Projects are co-creating a multi-sensory workshop series in Glasgow, building on a successful Culture Collective pilot. The aim is to address social isolation and loneliness by offering opportunities for connection, creativity, self-expression and relaxation.  Dance Artists, Joanna Young, Saffy Setohy and Aya Kobayashi are working with Dixon Community and young people from the area to participate in day trips and a community social as part of the project.

Julie Young, Manager at The Dixon Community, said:

“We’ve been working with Joanna Young and the team of artists from Independent Arts Projects over the past 18 months and have witnessed the tangible and meaningful difference to participant’s mental health during this time.  We’re delighted that there’s additional funding to continue this work.

“Everyone looks forward to the sessions each week.  People are more relaxed after each session and comment regularly on the difference that the activity is making to their sense of belonging, connection, self-esteem, mood and confidence.  We’ve found the activities to be so effective for all involved, that we now borrow some of the activities to do with participants in other sessions.”

Feedback from previous group participants highlight the positive benefits with comments including: “they helped better than my medication,” that “it’s done my body good, moved circulation around” and “I appreciate the company.”

Another example of the intersection between Arts and wellbeing is Converge & Create, a collaboration between Macrobert Arts Centre, Artlink Central and NHS Forth Valley. The year-long programme connects artists with lived experience of poor mental health, young people voicing their aspirations and organisations through facilitated regular sessions of creative expression.

A person stands getting their photo taken while they wear a giant headpiece that's very colourful and vibrant - it covers their whole head including their face

Image courtesy of Artlink

Kevin Harrison, Director of Artlink Central said:

“We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at Macrobert Arts Centre and NHS Forth Valley and many more to make space for really open and creative opportunities with a diverse group of young people to co-design what social prescribing can mean for them. We will take a trauma informed approach to this where artists, partners and young people can explore the potential for new ways to use the arts and culture in all its forms from visual art to comedy, as a catalyst for positive mental health and wellbeing together.”

Research published in 2022 by the Social Biobehavioural Research Group at University College London assessing The Impact of Arts and Cultural Engagement on Population Health highlights that frequent arts participation and cultural attendance were both associated with better mental health and a greater sense of life satisfaction.

Rob Dickie, Arts and Festival Officer at Mental Health Foundation adds to this:

“The arts have a vital role in promoting mental health and preventing mental health problems. This fund will support projects for communities right across Scotland, improving access to high quality participatory arts programmes for people who experience mental ill health and those who are at greatest risk.

“We are looking forward to working with the funded organisations, as well as the broad network of community-based partners they will be engaging with, to facilitate peer support and learning over the next year.  We hope that this work will provide renewed impetus for the growth and enhancement of work in the arts and mental health in Scotland.”

Based on findings from the Arts and Health Mapping Report published by Creative Scotland in 2021, we’re supporting the rolling out and scaling up of approaches which are innovative and valuable. We also aim to promote and share best practice within this part of the sector.

Funded Organisations

The full list of funded organisations is detailed below:

Organisation Project title Location Award amount

Alchemy Film and Arts

New Shoots

Scottish Borders



Space for Wellbeing



Forgan Arts Centre SCIO

Forgan Makers Club




Inside Out/Outside In

Dundee City



Sensory Workshops

City of Edinburgh – activity in Glasgow



Creative Recovery Inverclyde



Lapidus Scotland

Writing with Flourish

City of Edinburgh


Lyth Arts Centre

LAC: Participatory Social Prescribing Project




Converge & Create: Co-designing Creative Prescribing



North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership

What comes next?

North Ayrshire



Create your wellbeing

Perth and Kinross



Creative Wellbeing

City of Edinburgh


Women’s Support Project

Greenspaces and the art of nature

Glasgow City






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