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June 20, 2023

Summary of the CultureForHealth final conference

From 7 to 10 June 2023, the #CultureForHealth final conference took place in the warmth of the early summer, exploring both Care, Culture and Health and the Eulysis myths and mysteries of Elefsina - European Capital of Culture.

By CultureForHealth

The CultureForHealth Final Conference

As part of the international conference, "Handle with Care | Culture for Social Well-being", CultureForHealth welcomed the conference participants to the final presentation of the results, work and relationships of the two-year-long marathon for the interdisciplinary bottom-up policy development project. A 1-day celebration of people and projects developing and advocating better understanding for the culture and arts positive impact on health and well-being.

Vice President Margaritis Schinas’ keynote speech

During the CultureForHealth conference, Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas took the stage to deliver a keynote focused on the importance of supporting cross-sectorial work between health and culture at the European level. Vice-President Schinas also referred to the European Commission’s recently adopted Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health, as well as the Commission’s launch of the European Mental Health Capacity-Building Initiative worth 11 million euros to support Member States in building capacity for an approach that promotes mental health across all policies.

Here are a few Margaritis Schinas qoutes:

- “Culture leaves nobody behind, pulling us up even when we cannot ask for help. At their most basic level, culture, art, expression, simply sharing and listening to one another – these are the anchors that define our European way of life. CultureForHealth has done essential work, under the leadership of Culture Action Europe. Both your scientific literature review and your policy recommendations are very thought-provoking. (…) Now is the time to draw on all this evidence. Now is the time to build on the good practices we have developed. Now is the time for systemic change. We have learned a lot – now let us put these lessons to work."

“Participatory arts activities reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood, enable self-expression and empowerment, as well as increase social engagement, bonding and inclusion. In group settings, these activities are even more effective at reducing loneliness than simply meeting as a group. And we have seen in your six pilot projects some telling examples about how the arts and culture change lives. Look for example at the Group Singing for Maternal Mental Health-pilot, helping mothers with post-partum depression, implemented in Romania. This pilot helps mothers come together, be creative, be themselves, and be each other's support system.“

– Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas

Pilot Projects

On 8 June, a Projects Agora showcased different European projects working with the topics of care, community and individual well-being, health, mental health and culture. The marketplace brought together different perspectives from arts, heritage, human rights, health, research, politics, activism etc. sphere and mixed initiatives from Greece with similar projects.

Also, our six CultureForHealth Pilot Projects were represented at the Projects Agora

CultureForHealth presentation, workshop, closing the conference and ‘Mystery visits’ 

On 9 June,the CultureForHealth final conference was celebrating the combined effort to make the influence of CultureForHealth an important driver towards common collaboration between the culture and health sectors. The programme focused on the final presentation of the results of the two-year-long marathon for the interdisciplinary bottom-up policy development project, including an overview of the CultureForHealth Report, as well as a presentation of the six pilot projects demonstrating the crucial need for collaboration and understanding between the culture and health and well-being sectors.

Kornelia Kiss and Dr. Mafalda Damaso presented the CultureForHealth project, report and compendium.

"Next steps" discussed with Adrew Greenwood, Monica Urian, Noemi Avila Valdes, Ana Casla, and Moderator, Rarita Zbranca

Keynote speech by Margaritis Schinas, Vice president of the European Commision

Cultural Prescription program in Greece presented by Nikos Stefanis and Margarita Alexomanolaki

Care-cities workshop: Strategies for enhancing Urban Well-being through Culture, moderated by Rarita Zbranca

Talking Points workshop: Arts and Health in Communities, moderated by Inga Surgunte

Policy and Practice workshop: Pushing the policy and practice in your country, moderated by Mafalda Damaso and Polona Torkar

Arts & Health workshop: Do we need to start a new arts & health profession? Moderated by Kornelia Kiss

Social Prescribing workshop: What the arts can do in social prescribing, moderated by Mikkel Ottow

Plenary reporting back from workshops, moderated by Lars Ebert

Closing the conference with the Elefsina manifesto read-out

Cultural visits and Mystery 49 Symposia in Kalympaki neighbourhood, Sant Demeter Church Square

Culture Action Europe – host of the Beyond the Obvious Conference

6-10 June in Eleusis (Elefsina), Greece, Culture Action Europe held their annual Beyond the Obvious conference, “Beyond the Obvious: Handle with Care | Culture for Social Well-being.”

Located in the 2023 European Capital of Culture (ECOC), attendees of BtO were immersed in Elefsina, a small, industrial town 20 km west of Athens.

The Elefsina ECOC has built its artistic vision and year of programming around the concept of mysteries in order to heighten the historical curiosity and awareness of its citizens and visitors.

As early as prehistoric times, this town has been linked to the ancient Greek’s favourite myth, the myth of Demeter, goddess of agriculture and fertility of the land and her daughter, Persephone. The city was known since ancient times for the Eleusinian Mysteries, one of the most important religious ceremonies of ancient Greece.

Handle with Care, or Mystery 79, integrated into the program and connections between care and well-being to the history and cultural heritage of the town were made throughout the experience, especially through the visits and storytelling from the ECOC Artistic Director, Michail Marmorinos.

The conference also held participatory discussions – circles of care – addressing topics of Care and Mental Health, Care and Youth, Communities of Care, Curating Care, Care for Culture (and cultural workers), Care for Climate, Care for Commons and Care and Borders. The outcomes of these circles resulted in a co-written document: the “Elefsina Manifesto | Handle with Care: Envisioning a Future of Care” which was read out during the closing of the conference, and will be published in the coming weeks, alongside a conference report.

Footage and recaps

Culture Action Europe was accompanied by photographers from LDSPRO | AUDIO VISUAL PRODUCTIONS, who made amazing documentation from the Beyond the Obvious Conference – including the CultureForHealth final conference day. Check out the Beyond the Obvious website for pictures. Do not forget to always credit the photographer (LDSPRO | AUDIO VISUAL PRODUCTIONS) when posting pictures publicly. Videos will be coming soon and will be found on Culture Action Europe’s Youtube page.