Monday, May 28, 2012

How Bad is Fructose? David Despain Interviews Dr. John Sievenpiper

In my article "Is Sugar Fattening?", I discussed a recent review paper on fructose, by Dr. John Sievenpiper and colleagues (1).  It was the most recent of several review papers to conclude that fructose is probably not inherently fattening in humans, but that it can be fattening if it's consumed to excess, due to the added calories.  Dr. Sievenpiper and colleagues have also written other papers addressing the metabolic effects of fructose, which appear to be fairly minor unless it's consumed to excess (2, 3, 4, 5).  The senior author on these studies is Dr. David Jenkins at McMaster University.  David Despain, a science and health writer who publishes a nice blog called Evolving Health, recently interviewed Dr. Sievenpiper about his work.

It's an interesting interview and very timely, due to the recent attention paid to fructose in the popular media. This has mostly been driven by a couple of high-profile individuals-- an issue they discuss in the interview.  The interview, recent papers, and sessions at scientific conferences are part of an effort by researchers to push back against some of the less well founded claims that have received widespread attention lately.

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AMOUR, My Last Car, thoughts on Neuroscience, RNCM Concerts at Manchester Hospitals and New Opportunities...

Over the last few months, meeting Richard Creme and being part of that group of people who worked with him to get his exhibition together, was such an eye opener - such a rich treat. It’s got me thinking though. Stroke, like any health crisis or disease that affects our brain, has such a profound impact on who we are and how we’re perceived. I constantly meet people who want to talk about their practice and evidencing the impact of their work on people who may be experiencing dementia, or may have had a stroke.  It’s always interesting and really varied: musicians, film-makers, poets and painters. More often than not, people will bring up the idea of recruiting a neuroscientist as part of the research team - someone to sit alongside the health economist, to take their hypothesis further: provide the empirical evidence of arts intrinsic value.

Like everyone, I’m seduced by the shimmering possibilities of medicines new frontier, of a pulsing supernova at the heart of our being - the dancing, golden synapse - the phrenological centres of our individuality. Compartments for love, pleasure, remorse and so much more...

So it was with great interest, that I read  an article by Vaughan Bell who’s a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London, and who suggests that the data that scientists pull from fMRI brain scans, isn’t always reliable, and as I’ve discussed before, like the Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) - are subject to cultural issues including the incentives offered by the  industry. Just think of the unreported negative findings in pharmaceutical trials; Seroxat and Reboxetine being just two. Bell’s article which focuses on brain scans specifically, does make me feel that whilst the range of scanners that exist as diagnostic tools are reaping significant results, the exploration of what it is to be human, is ever-so-slightly more complicated. His article, which illustrates the increasing use of neuro-imaging in deciding the guilt of prisoners in India, Italy and the US, opens up an interesting and worrying debate.

Over the last decade i’ve seen increasing calls to legitimize the arts in relation to health and well-being, particularly calls to standardise what it is we do, so that the NHS can embrace our agenda. Increasingly this is an aspiration to gain NICE approval, through RCT’s, or perhaps sometimes spurious evidence that art lights up the brain. I’d suggest that whilst there is space for intelligent collaborations between artists and scientists, in focusing solely on evidencing arts value, we’re missing the point - isn’t our work about exploring that liminal space between the arts, science and what it is to be human? Standardised repeat prescriptions for the arts, and reductive understanding of its value, risk reducing us down to a simmering stew of amino acids...

MY LAST CAR Looking Well, Bentham                  30th May - 2nd June

Do you remember your first car? How about your last?

My Last Car is an epic road trip that explores the life and death of the car through a series of poignant, funny and uplifting tales.  Our voyage is part exhibition, part live performance and part community celebration. It explores all that the car means to us at the end of a great transport era. We have carefully dismantled a Rover 316 Cabriolet and filled a gallery with thousands of car objects. From wipers and cogs, windows and springs to camshafts, pistons and filters. Each part is labeled with messages and stories, facts and dreams about cars. The car becomes becomes the stage set for our performances. We tell tales of cars both good and bad. We look at the future and what it might hold. We share moments of magic, mystery and and motorway madness.

There is so much to do! Celebrate My Last CARnival: a festival of events and activities on the streets of Bentham, attend My Last Car Live Performances, and visit My Last Car – The Exhibition. My Last CARnival is a lighthearted celebration of life in a town with and without cars. It tips its hat to the trusty motor car and celebrates other ways of moving around. Get out of your car and discover a Boom Bike and a bus-shaped bus shelter or journey through space and time for a pound. Walk or bike the CARnival trails, meet ‘The Queen’ and happen across film, sculpture and performances in unexpected places!

Bentham Town Hall has been chosen as one of only two places in North Yorkshire to host My Last Car, the original performance and exhibition by 509 Arts as part of imove – Yorkshire’s Cultural Olympiad programme. Inspired by read stories of break ups and break downs, crashes and jams, it celebrates and questions our relationship with the car over years and across generations. Bentham will be the canvas for installations created in unexpected venues within walking distance the My Last Car event. My Last CARnival is a lighthearted celebration of life in a town with and without cars. It tips its hat to the trust motor car and celebrates other ways of moving around.
If you visit the My Last Car website, you can upload your own car story! Here's a snippet from mine.

'Once upon a time, I held down two jobs - one in Cornwall, the other in Manchester. It was ridiculous. One week here, the other week there. I chose to drive between the two at night to avoid the traffic jams and snarl-ups. I slept in the afternoon, drove through the night. A pattern, a habit. Full moon over the M6, sunrise over Bodmin: perfect.
One night, (at Junction 17 to be precise) driving the same old routine - my yellow headlamp beam changed, something strange darted in front of the car - the most exquisite  hare. Not some regular rabbit, but a beautiful, (and in my memory) giant hare - elegant and so, so long. But so beautiful in the tungsten glare, that I swerved to avoid it - swerved to avoid metal on flesh...'

EXTERNAL EVALUATOR for KiiCS project: apply by 20 June 2012
Knowledge Incubation in Innovation and Creation for Science is a three-year European Commission-funded project (2012-2014) coordinated by Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums. It aims build bridges between arts, science and technology by giving evidence of the positive impacts of their interaction for creativity as well as for triggering interest in science. The project will stimulate co-creation processes involving creators and scientists, and nurture youth interest in science in a creative way.
KiiCS offers a financial contribution of a maximum of 30.000€ and if you are interested, you should submit the tender before June 20, 2012. The proposal must be delivered in English and it has to include a brief description of the methodology to be used and analytical framework, a work plan with detailed Schedule and the distribution of budget for the evaluation.
For more information about this position, contact KiiCS:


OK, so I’ve not seen this film and its just been awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but it looks relevant to our Arts/Health in that it deals with aging, music and stoke in one fell-swoop.  Michael Haneke has made some interesting films in the past and this looks like something very beautiful indeed, dealing with emotions but without cloying sentimentalism. You can find more by clicking on the link below and here’s the official trailer with English subtitles.

‘Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva give breathtaking performances as Georges and Anne, retired music teachers in their 80s, living in a handsomely furnished, book-lined Paris apartment with a baby grand piano. They are happy, affectionate, loving; active and content. We see them attending the performance by one of Anne's former pupils, and are delighted with his success. But one day, Anne suffers the first of a series of strokes which paralyse one arm, making playing the piano impossible, accompanied by progressive dementia...’
‘...using your own words and methodologies, calling into question both the vocabulary and content of the research that was requested and making divergent, dissonant and improbable proposals.’

What an invitation!!

The international call is open for artists and social scientists to collaborate with the following seven organisations located in the Basque Country (Spain) as part of the 2012 edition of Improbable Connections: Artepan (artisanal bakery and pastry maker), EDE Fundazioa (social intervention), Eraikune (construction cluster in Euskadi), Grupo Uvesco (supermarkets), Oiz egin (rural development platform), Orbea (design and manufacture of bicycles) and Silam (Products and solutions based on silicone elastomer).
Deadline: 9am on 25 June 2012. 
Collaboration period: September 2012 - June 2013. 
Payment: 12,000 euros + VAT (including travel and accommodation).

Thank you as ever...C.P

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Recently, Chris Kresser published a series on dietary salt (sodium chloride) and health (1).  One of the issues he covered is the effect of salt on blood pressure.  Most studies have shown a relatively weak relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.  My position overall is that we're currently eating a lot more salt than at almost any point in our evolutionary history as a species, so I tend to favor a moderately low salt intake.  However, there may be more important factors than salt when it comes to blood pressure, at least in the short term. 

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: FREE PUBLIC LECTURE with Richard Cork - David Beckham - Sex and Politics - Competitions, Films and New Arts/Health Tender in Cumbria...

What a speedy couple of weeks: Richards show is down, the Royal Northern College of Music have had the most excellent two day conference on Music and Health, at which I was privileged to share the manifesto.  It was a conference full of passion and possibility and I am thrilled to have hooked up with Musique et Sante once more - exemplars, who alongside Holly and her colleagues, really work out the synergies between notions of music therapy and music and health, and for me, the political power of music for the individual and society. Brilliant and inspiring. Thank you.

Thinking no doubt, about the Olympic Flame and its progression through our bunting filled cities and villages, I dreamt last night of David Beckham, proudly pounding the pavements, torch held high in honour of Queen and country. Only, as in all good dreams, he shouts ‘flame on’ and takes off into the night sky, (St Beckham of Trafford in ascension) to fall to the earth seconds later, like some tousled Icarus - some spluttering spitfire, shot down and impotent. I rush over to him, only to find it's not his coiffured broken body, but that of humiliated and impoverished street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi who self-immolated in Tunisia and kick started what we now call the Arab spring.

And with my increasingly inflamed feelings of patriotic positiveness to the Jubilee and Olympics, I’m thrilled to note that the once vilified athlete, John Carlos (who alongside his fellow American Tommie Smith, so splendidly drew global attention to inequalities in the US by bowing their heads and raising their black-gloved hands in salute on the winners podium in the ‘68 Olympics) is in Liverpool on the 26th May at 6:00 at FACT, in conversation. 
(details here: )

He comments, "Coming to the UK on the eve of the Olympics is a very exciting opportunity for me to talk with the new generation about why we did what we did back in 1968. When Tommie Smith and I raised our fists on that medal platform at the Olympics, we knew that we would catch hell but we didn't care. We didn't care because we wanted the coming generations to live and breathe as full citizens with equal rights. I was just concerned with right and wrong. We went out there for humanity. We are here 43 years later because the fight is still to be won." 

To make a very unsubtle segue between Carlos and the potency of music, here’s a beautiful piece of music by Marvin Gaye that needs no introduction: loaded, potent and sublime:  What’s Going On?

Building further tenuous connections between 1968, and current olympic-sized spending in a time of austerity and inequality - step forward French philosopher Alain Badiou who in his new book, Polemics makes interesting connections between sex, love and politics. Here’s a quote from an article in Saturday’s Guardian -

He defines his "real politics" in opposition to what he calls "parliamentary cretinism". His politics starts with subjective experience, involves a truth procedure and ends, fingers crossed, in a communist society. Why? "It's necessary to invent a politics that is not identical with power. Real politics is to engage to resolve problems within a collective with enthusiasm. It's not simply to delegate problems to the professionals. Love is like politics in that it's not a professional affair. There are no professionals in love, and none in real politics." 

...and finally, (before we get to the opportunities and events) in the presentation of my paper,  A Brightly Coloured Bell-Jar, I’d discussed the role of psychiatry, in the demonisation of people who are gay, reducing people to morbidity and pathological disfunction in secular society.  Well the psychiatrist Dr Robert Spitzer, (and architect of modern classification of mental disorders) the name behind research that posited that gay people could successfully become straight if they were motivated to do so: has retracted his long-held claim. More than that, he has apologised. I quote: "I believe I owe the gay community an apology...I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works."

OK...back to business.

I am thrilled to announce that Dr Langley Brown has been appointed as Research Associate and will be working with me on new research in Arts and Health. One of Langley’s first coups has been to secure a free public lecture by acclaimed art critic Richard on...

Arts for Health presents:
The Healing Presence of Art
A History of Western Art in Hospitals
An illustrated lecture by acclaimed art critic and author
Richard Cork
on his new book of the above title, followed by a discussion
6.30 pm, Wednesday 13th June 2012
Lecture Theatre LT3, Geoffrey Manton Building,
All Saints Campus, Oxford Road, 
Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15
The event is free, but booking strictly in advance:

To celebrate the first year of the Arts for Health Archive, and to help place contemporary arts and health practice within a long-standing yet little-studied tradition, Arts for Health has invited Richard Cork to talk about his new and beautifully illustrated book on the history of western art in hospitals. His lecture will be of interest to anyone concerned with the arts, the human environment, and wellbeing.

Between birth and death, many of life's most critical moments occur in hospital, and they deserve to take place in surroundings that match their significance. In this spirit, from the early Renaissance through to the modern period, artists have made immensely powerful work in hospitals across the western world, enhancing the environments where patients and medical staff strive towards better health.

Distinguished art historian Richard Cork became fascinated by the extraordinary richness of art produced in hospitals, encompassing work by many of the great masters - Piero della Francesca, Rogier van der Weyden, El Greco, William Hogarth, Jacques-Louis David, Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Fernand Leger, Marc Chagall and Naum Gabo. Cork's brilliant survey discovers the astonishing variety of images found in medical settings, ranging from dramatic confrontations with suffering (Matthias Grunewald at Isenheim) to the most sublime celebrations of heavenly ecstasy (Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in Venice). In the process, he reveals art's prodigious ability to humanize our hospitals, alleviate their clinical bleakness and leave a profound, lasting impression on patients, staff and visitors.

Richard Cork is an award-winning art critic, historian, broadcaster and curator. Formerly Art Critic of The Evening Standard and Chief Art Critic of The Times, he now writes for The Financial Times and broadcasts regularly on BBC radio and TV. He was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University in 1989-90, and Henry Moore Senior Fellow at the Courtauld Institute, 1992-5. He has acted as a judge for the Turner Prize and curated major exhibitions at Tate, the Hayward Gallery, the Barbican Art Gallery, the Royal Academy and other European venues.

Cork’s many books include a ground-breaking study of Vorticism, awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1977; Art Beyond the Gallery, winner of the Banister Fletcher Award in 1986; a major monograph on David Bomberg, 1987; A Bitter Truth: Avant-Garde Art and the Great War, winner of the Art Fund Award in 1995; Jacob Epstein, 1999; four acclaimed volumes of his critical writings on modern art, 2003; Michael Craig-Martin, 2006; and Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill, 2009. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy in 2011.

"A comprehensive and magisterial monograph... Cork brilliantly conveys the extent to which hospitals provided a public arena for the display of art, long before the existence of museums."—Charles Saumarez Smith, RA Magazine

"There have been many studies linking aspects of art and illness but Richard Cork’s scholarly and elegant book is the first to show just how closely the two have always been intertwined and just how various have been the responses."—Michael Prodger, Literary Review

"Cork's prodigiously researched book documents how art in hospitals developed and provides a solid foundation for its future role."—Colin Martin, World Health Design

Pallant House Gallery presents the launch of Outside In: 2012, a unique open-entry arts prize for Outsider and marginalised artists. Submissions remain open until 20 July 2012. Selected works will be showcased in a major exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex from 27 Oct 2012 – 3 Feb 2013.

LA COLIFATA (gracias D.P)

Película documental dirigida por Carlos Larrondo. Producida por Bausan Films y Filmanova Invest. LT22, Radio La Colifata es una radio hecha íntegramente por los internos del Hospital Psiquíatrico J.T. Borda de Buenos Aires. Se graba y se emite desde los jardines del Hospital; se escucha en todo el mundo. Una radio que cuestiona el limite entre locura y razón. Una radio que rompe el muro que separa cuerdos de locos Se da la palabra a quienes la han tenido negada por mucho tiempo: los locos, que, además, pueden mostrarnos todas esas cosas que nosotros los cuerdos, no somos capaces de ver.

Here is an 8 minute short film, shot on location at Alder Hey Children's Hospital by long-time Arts for Health collaborator, Hafsah Naib and which features patients performing ideas about medicines of the future. The participatory and engagement technique used to generate child-led authentic performance is based upon an artistic approach that she has been developing for several years and which has been the subject of collaborative and academic research presented at art and education conferences in Japan, Austrailia and more recently Hungary.

Copeland Borough Council are seeking expressions of interest from organizations or groups who have an interest in tendering to continue delivering the Pathways to Art project and who can fulfill the following criteria:
  • The aims and objectives of the organisation must reflect those of Pathways to Art.
  • There must be a legal framework and constitution in place which will allow applications to various grant/funding bodies.
  • Demonstrable experience of successful funding applications.
  • Members of staff working on the project must have demonstrable skills in project management in the arts and delivering arts workshops with clients who have mental and/or physical health problems.
Project Summary
The Pathways to Art project has been successfully operating in West Cumbria since 2007, although in the last year it has been running in Copeland Borough only due to budget constraints. The changing economic climate means it is no longer viable for the project to continue operating within the Local Authority, however Copeland Borough Council recognise the benefits of the project to its residents and to that end wish to see it continue, either as a project of an existing organisation or by a group who are interested in establishing the project as a Social Enterprise in its own right.  In order to assist this, the council is offering a one- off grant of £15,265, which is mainly, matched funding for further grant applications.

How to Apply
Through an expression of interest which outlines:
How you meet the criteria defined above, including CV's of any staff working on the project, both initial planning/fundraising and workshop delivery.
Why you are interested in this opportunity.
Initial ideas for running the project in the first instance and how you might develop it over 3 years, bearing in mind the following:

Contract NWCE-8U5MWK
Title Project 611: Pathways to Art
The tender will go live today ( 16 May 2012) at 14.00pm on The Chest ( organisations or groups wishing to tender will need to register on The Chest which is free. All relevant guidance and documents are on The Chest and expressions of interest should be submitted through The Chest no later than 17.00pm on Friday 8 June 2012.

The UK Medical Collections Group
Thackray Museum, Beckett Street, Leeds, LS9 7LN
This inspiring and practical one-day conference will bring you up to date with new structures and priorities in the health sector, and will explore how heritage organisations can contribute to government agendas around all aspects of health.  Whether you are already involved with the UK Medical Collections Group, or if you are a curator or educator who is keen to join the debate about what heritage can offer to health, we hope that you can join us on 29th May.  You will hear from speakers from the heath sector, as well as museum and arts professionals who have worked towards health agendas. You will also have the chance to explore how you can link your work to health outcomes. We aim to bring together existing practice and new information to develop a long-term vision of how museums can contribute to health outcomes.

Tuesday 29th May, 201210am-4pm
For enquiries or to make a booking, please email:

Thank you as ever...C.P.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part III

In previous posts, I reviewed some of the evidence suggesting that human evolution has accelerated rapidly since the development of agriculture (and to some degree, before it).  Europeans (and other lineages with a long history of agriculture)  carry known genetic adaptations to the Neolithic diet, and there are probably many adaptations that have not yet been identified.  In my final post in this series, I'll argue that although we've adapted, the adaptation is probably not complete, and we're left in a sort of genetic limbo between the Paleolithic and Neolithic state. 

Recent Genetic Adaptations are Often Crude

It may at first seem strange, but many genes responsible for common genetic disorders show evidence of positive selection.  In other words, the genes that cause these disorders were favored by evolution at some point because they presumably provided a survival advantage.  For example, the sickle cell anemia gene protects against malaria, but if you inherit two copies of it, you end up with a serious and life-threatening disorder (1).  The cystic fibrosis gene may have been selected to protect against one or more infectious diseases, but again if you get two copies of it, quality of life and lifespan are greatly curtailed (2, 3).  Familial Mediterranean fever is a very common disorder in Mediterranean populations, involving painful inflammatory attacks of the digestive tract, and sometimes a deadly condition called amyloidosis.  It shows evidence of positive selection and probably protected against intestinal disease due to the heightened inflammatory state it confers to the digestive tract (4, 5).  Celiac disease, a severe autoimmune reaction to gluten found in some grains, may be a by-product of selection for protection against bacterial infection (6).  Phenylketonuria also shows evidence of positive selection (7), and the list goes on.  It's clear that a lot of our recent evolution was in response to new disease pressures, likely from increased population density, sendentism, and contact with domestic animals.

Read more »

Friday, May 11, 2012

PUNCHDRUNK, I LIVE TEMPORARY, MENTAL HEALTH FILM AWARDS, JOBS and over £1,000,000 for a tender...and even more!

So, the Richard Creme show has been and gone. What a whirlwind. We’ve had amazing responses and some great press coverage, including front page of the Huffington Post (thanks Colette). Thanks too, to all the retweets! What now? I know Richard has been asked to curate a very high profile exhibition in Manchester, but tantalisingly, I can’t give the details yet. The Stroke Association and Arts for Health are also going to be working together on a large project, so watch this space. For now though, I just want to say a big thank you to Richard and Shelly for getting in touch. It has been an honour to be involved in this first exhibition and a pleasure getting to know you.

Auditions For Male And Female Dancers Playing Age 50+, Punchdrunk London Closes Monday 14 May 2012 Paid (£20k-25k) Full time 
Contact: Fernanda Prata
Auditions for Male and Female Dancers Playing Age 50+
Punchdrunk is an award-winning theatre company, specialising in the immersive experience of unexpected locations and dramatic narrative. The company's work is usually presented on an epic scale, staged inside vast, empty buildings transformed into the world of the performance. Punchdrunk's performance style requires committed, versatile dancers with very strong improvisation and devising skills. We are looking for dynamic performers with a playing age of 50 with excellent contemporary dance technique. Punchdrunk invites you to submit an application to audition to work with Punchdrunk in the future. Applicants must have relevant professional experience. Only applicants with a playing age of 50 + will be considered for this position. Email applications only.
To apply, please email your CV and headshot to:
Please limit the size of files sent to ensure we successfully receive your application.
Closing date for applications: Monday 14th May 2012
Auditions will be held on in central London on Wednesday 23rd May and Tuesday 29th May.

As part of data collection on a significant piece of national research work that I’m involved in developing around arts and dementia,  I would like to recruit artists specifically as participant observers within the sessions; not collecting data around well-being outcomes, but developing an artist-led enquiry around living with dementia and helping our understanding of what a dementia friendly communities might be.  A question I am interested in is: How do you think artists could capture and add-to the research process? Have you been involved already; how’s it worked in practice, what have been your methodologies and is your work research or practice based?
I am exploring this potential collaboration for part of a large research project, which isn’t yet funded, so I’m not after applications, but simple comments, or expressions of interest, via email to So remember, this isn’t an offer of a job, rather the start of conversation and potentially a collaboration.

A digital installation created by homeless people in Manchester.Friday 11th May – Friday 1st June
I LIVE TEMPORARY - is a digital installation created by homeless people in Manchester, in collaboration with experimental arts organisation, arthur+martha. Customised postcards, sound recordings and an epic tweet poem carry tiny stories, little snatches of homeless people’s lives. These voices are often unheard, but they have insight to offer everyone. Combining text, sound and image, I LIVE TEMPORARY is a report from life outside the borders of comfort and acceptance. Funny, sad, angry, resigned - here are all the human colours.  
arthur+martha works with people who are pushed to the margins of society – older people in hospital, excluded school pupils, holocaust survivors and many others. Exhibition general opening times: 
Open: Friday 11th May - Friday 1st June. Times will vary. Please visit our website for more details: 
Admisson: Free
Venue: The Egg, MediaCityUK, Salford Quays, Salford, M50 2HE

The 2012 Scottish Mental Health Film Festival is currently inviting submissions for our 2012 awards. Our annual open film submission gives film-makers the opportunity to share their work and ideas with audiences across Scotland and internationally. If you have a film or film project that is underway or completed and links to mental health, then we want to hear from you. In its broadest sense ‘mental health’ is a term which touches most aspects of our lives; from our relationships to how we respond to the world around us. We’re looking for films which show that a mental health identity is something we all have, and something we all need to prioritise from time to time. Films can address specific mental health issues, but we’re also keen to encourage innovative and diverse perspectives.

The Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances (UK)
(SALRC) has announced that this year it is making available £100,000  for grants to other organisations working for the benefit of women in financial need. This year SALRC intend supporting organisations that are working with women who are victims of domestic violence, or aim to increase the take-up of State benefits by women.  Applications are invited from registered charities that have submitted at least one year’s audited or independently examined accounts to the Charity Commission, and have an annual turnover not exceeding £1 million. The closing date for receipt of applications is 31 July 2012. For more information visit:

The Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye has been sentenced to 25 lashes for a cartoon of a local MP for Arak, Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, who took offence to a cartoon published in the local paper. Iranian politicians have been  criticised for interfering in the country's sports. Shokraye was has been sued by Ashtiani for insulting him and the court has sentenced the cartoonist to 25 lashes.
ART for WELLBEING, Project Co-ordinator
Cartwheel Arts are delighted to announce that they have secured a major grant of £105,000 - £35,000pa over 3 years - for Art for Wellbeing, our programme of work in arts and mental health in Rochdale and Wigan. Please click on the logo above for details about the post and how to apply. This is their largest award to date from a charitable trust and we are grateful to the Tudor Trust for their support.
Closing date: Wednesday 23rd May at 4pm
Interviews will take place on Thursday 31st May 

£1,125,000.00. CONTRACT
OK, I have your attention. I’m aware, when talking to individual artists and organisations, that there is an underlying fear of what the future holds in a climate of stinging health reforms and cuts across society, undertaken in the name of deficit reduction, but more often feeling like long-term policy plans for wholesale privatisation of the public sector. In my paper on Big Society in 2010 and more recently, Fur Coat and No Knickers, I eluded to the fact that as an emerging sector, we’d have to keep our eye on the ball and not just react to changes as they appear on the horizon, but actively reimagine how the arts might preempt social change and diversification - isn’t that what artists are good at?

Whilst I try to share job opportunities like the one above, on this blog as often as possible, I’d urge those of you who are seriously interested in collaboration with other disciplines, to look beyond the normal ports of call for arts/health opportunities. 

By way of example, this week I saw an invitation to tender for contraception and sexual health services for young people across Ashton, Leigh and Wigan (Andy Burnham is the MP for Leigh and was a signatory to the DoH and ACE Prospectus for Arts and Health). What relevance is this, you ask? After all, it’s delivering, prevention and education; information services; screening; care and treatment for a Primary Care Trust? Well - consider it a challenge. Our arts/health agenda, like everything else in the world around us, is changing - growing.  We claim the arts promote well-being, give voice, educate etc, etc! So let’s think bigger. The North West has some arts/health exemplars who have grown their vision, services and expertise exponentially! I can think of one or two shining examples (who I’m not naming, for fear that they’ll be inundated with requests for help), but who have developed diverse professional partnerships to enable creative delivery, of what are traditionally Local Authority or NHS led services.

Think about this. Tender opportunities like this are not rare. Local authorities and the emerging (and as yet unformed) GP commissioning frameworks will need to develop new and innovative ways of delivering their work. They need solutions. Of course a service like Sexual Health will need  the relevant professionals, but a well thought through proposal that looked at some of the bigger issues around community, education and innovation should be something that the cultural sector could imagine. So here’s a one year contract with a likely minimum value of £750,000.00 and maximum value of £1,125,000.00. We can sit back as a sector and just wait for the usual opportunities, or we can think bigger and ask, what is it that we really believe, and how can we reimagine 21st Century healthcare. Our NHS is being radically dismantled in front of our eyes. We can either let the system crumble and accept the functional delivery of crucial services in a mediocre and ineffective way, or we can embrace new partnerships, that whilst difficult; potentially offers civic society something beyond the norm, that provokes debate, enables inclusion, delivers exemplary service and ignites imagination.
From Distress to Recovery

As usual, a big thank you to you for reading this blog...C.P.