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Arts as Treatment? Innovation and resistance within an emerging movement

Yoeli, H. ORCID: 0000-0001-5505-9366, Macnaughton, J., McLusky, S. & Robson, M.J. (2020). Arts as Treatment? Innovation and resistance within an emerging movement. Nordic Journal of Arts, Culture and Health, 2(2), pp. 91-106. doi: 10.18261/issn.2535-7913-2020-02-02


Purpose: For years, the Arts and Health (AaH) movement has been guided by values of art for art’s sake, practitioner as Artist and artist as Outsider. These values are instrumental to the effectiveness of AaH as a relational and process-driven tool for individual empowerment, collective health activism and social change. This paper explores how the AaH movement, together with the artists operating as AaH practitioners, has responded to the political and economic and policy transitions of recent years.

Methodology: This paper critically analyses and updates the frequently-cited Diamond model of Smith (2003) and Macnaughton, White and Stacy (2005) exploring how and why, within a UK context of neoliberalism, austerity and evidence-based practice, AaH is being increasingly drawn into the methods and governance of medical and rehabilitative services.

Findings: Whenever AaH in the UK is governed by health services, it becomes reconceptualised as therapy or treatment. It risks relinquishing its artistic and philosophical identity and distinctive effectiveness.

Originality: This paper builds upon the Diamond model to present two new models, the Stalactite and the Helictite. These new models conceptualise the current situation and the potential future fragmentation of the AaH movement, highlighting how AaH might remain faithful to its core values.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2020 Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC 4.0 License (
Publisher Keywords: Arts and health, arts as treatment, participatory arts, artists in health settings, social prescribing
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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