National Conference around Culture, Health, and Wellbeing held in Barnsley

The Culture, Health, and Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) is holding its annual conference, “Making Change”, in venues across Barnsley from Wednesday 11 to Friday 13 October. 


The three-day conference is designed to be a place where everyone involved in creative health can come together and discuss how we can best support health and wellbeing through creativity and culture. Speakers include freelance practitioners, museums and arts organisations, health and social care partners, funders and policymakers. 


CHWA is the sole free-to-join membership organisation for creative health across England. They provide networked, collaborative advocacy, support, and resources, supporting health and wellbeing for all through creative and cultural practice, and is based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.


The conference has been funded by Arts Council England as part of CHWA’s role as an Investment Principles Support Organisation within the National Portfolio. 20 local creative practitioners have been supported with bursaries thanks to Barnsley Council and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority. As well as a national working group, CHWA is grateful to a range of local partners who have helped bring the conference about, especially Barnsley Council, Creative Recovery, Barnsley Civic, Parkway Cinema, the Digital Media Centre, Barnsley libraries and Barnsley museums.


CHWA has aimed for an approach with access embedded from the start - working with Barnsley’s own Cloverleaf Advocacy. It is encouraging a ‘come as you are’ approach, with plenty of opportunities for creative play, nourishment, and replenishment through a variety of interactive talks, performances, and workshops. CHWA hopes that this will spark meaningful conversation, allow for processing and reflection, and give equal opportunity to those working in the sector. 


A wide range of Barnsley-based organisations will be presenting at the conference, including young people from Horizon College performing to kick the conference off, before it is formally opened by Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council as well as Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England. 


A full programme of events will be hosted and as part of the conference and Barnsley Museums will be hosting various creative sessions including tours of Experience Barnsley Museums, poetry workshops, digital experiences, and film showings. 


Councillor Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “We are delighted to be hosting such an important conference in Barnsley. We value and appreciate the positive impact culture and creativity has on health and wellbeing. Conversations around how we embed culture into our lives, services, and corporate priorities must take place, and this three-day event is the perfect way to spark ideas and initiatives.”


Victoria Hume, Chief Executive of CHWA, said:

“This is only our second in-person conference and we’re thrilled to be in our hometown of Barnsley – we are excited to welcome around 300 people from all around the UK doing vital work to change how we think about health and wellbeing, and to build stronger communities.”


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