Gloucestershire to pilot national cultural commissioning framework

Article reproduced with kind permission of Arts Council England - see below for link to original article.

Gloucestershire has been selected to become one of only two areas in England to pilot a structured framework for incorporating arts and culture into the health and wellbeing services available to people living in the county.

Create Gloucestershire, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Forest of Dean Borough Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council and Gloucester City Council are working together in a groundbreaking partnership that aims to make Gloucestershire a centre of excellence for cultural commissioning - using arts and culture in preventative and therapeutic health and wellbeing settings.

The £895,000 Cultural Commissioning Programme (CCP) is a three-year strategic programme funded by Arts Council England and delivered by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (lead partner), New Philanthropy Capital and the New Economics Foundation.

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG) is responsible for commissioning local NHS services to meet the needs of local people.  A key approach for the GCCG is the redesign of clinical care pathways so that prevention is embedded at every stage.

Gloucestershire is recognised as one of the UK's leading areas in promoting and commissioning art and culture with a strong history of arts and health work.  The NHS and County and District Councils regularly collaborate to achieve health and social outcomes through a wide range of projects including art therapy on prescription, cultural interventions with victims of domestic violence and music sessions for older people with mental health problems.

This project will build on this success, embedding excellence in how arts and culture are commissioned by the NHS and ensuring equal access for all across the county.   The key objective will be to develop a bespoke framework linking the arts and cultural offer to communities rather than institutions.

Dr Helen Miller, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said: 'We have a good reputation for buying creative and innovative services, and this project provides an excellent opportunity to explore how arts and cultural organisations can be more involved in our strategic commissioning process, which means helping us to identify what people need and how we can provide new services that will benefit their health and wellbeing.'

Dr Simon Opher, a GP in Dursley, said: 'We are always looking for new and innovative ways to ensure we get the best health and wellbeing outcomes for our residents from the limited resources available to us.  Tapping into artistic, cultural and creative activities will help us to explore and introduce opportunities to enhance and support medical interventions.

'Locally, we have already introduced art and culture into a number of our services, for example, the ten-week art programme provided by Artlift.  GPs can refer patients to this for a number of reasons, such as reducing stress, anxiety or depression, improving self-esteem or confidence, increasing social networks, alleviating the symptoms of illness or chronic pain or distracting from behaviour-related health issues.'

The first step in developing the new cultural commissioning framework will be to appoint a Project Manager and the post is currently being advertised - see here for more information about the job and to download a brief. 

Pippa Jones, Create Gloucestershire Development Director, said: 'This is great news for the sector, and a huge step towards realising our manifesto aim of arts and culture being 'prescribed' as commonly as medicine.  Both the pilot award and the new post will bring vital additional capacity and expertise, and help us work towards a consistent offer that puts arts and cultural commissioning on a similar footing to other health services.'

Running until June 2016, the Cultural Commissioning Programme will offer a mix of activities to help both commissioners in the public services and the arts, museums and libraries sectors, specifically supporting collaboration and contributing to the health, wellbeing, social and economic outcomes and priorities of local communities, councils and health authorities.

Pippa Warin, Senior Relationship Manager, Strategic Relations, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'There is so much excellent work being done by arts and cultural organisations with measurable positive outcomes in health and social wellbeing.  At a time when the public service landscape means local authorities are changing the way they fund services, the Culture Commissioning Programme is strengthening the environment for cultural commissioning that has real impact for people and places.'

In June NCVO published the CCP Research Report, including data from a survey of 240 arts and cultural organisations that contained useful messaging on how to engage in commissioning and contribute to commissioner outcomes.  For public service commissioners and managers there is advice on how arts and cultural organisations can tackle social problems and it provides compelling evidence of their impact.

From July 2015, the Commissioning Learning Programme will be rolled out to help arts organisations, museums and library service engage and build on public service commissioning.

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