Culture and Wellbeing

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In York, it is our ambition that the city is recognised nationally for its innovative work in culture for health and wellbeing, including social prescribing, which residents can benefit from throughout their lives.

Visual and performing arts in healthcare environments help to reduce sickness, anxiety and stress, while arts therapies can alleviate anxiety, depression and stress while increasing resilience and wellbeing: music therapy, for example, has been shown to reduce agitation and need for medication in 67% of people with dementia. The UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) recently found “that theatres generate an annual cost saving to the NHS of £102,234,585, by helping benefit the physical and mental health of those in their surrounding communities.”

Through York’s Creative Future, the York Culture Strategy 2020-2025, we are working to ensure that:

  • York establishes an innovative and comprehensive system for social prescribing using arts and heritage engagement, to improve the health and wellbeing of York residents
  • Social prescribing provides a support route for young people facing mental health issues
  • Evidence indicates improved engagement and less isolation for vulnerable older people
  • Enhanced data collection demonstrates the impact the arts and heritage have on people’s health and wellbeing
  • There is increased leverage of external investment to support the arts and heritage for health and wellbeing
  • York is recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in the field in the arts and heritage for health and wellbeing arena

For more information, please read the full strategy here.

© Accessible Arts & Media

Cultural Wellbeing Grants

Make It York and City of York Council award annual wellbeing grant funding to social and cultural initiatives across the city. The grants, made available via the Better Care Fund, were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation and social distancing. 

After the success of the first round of grants in 2020, a further £60,000 was awarded in August 2021 to 19 projects around York, in partnership with York CVS, putting two funds together to create a simpler application process. The third round of grants were awarded in July 2022.

Read about the 2021 projects in their case studies below, being published throughout Summer 2022:

Information and Opportunities

There are a wide variety of Culture and Wellbeing opportunities in York. These include: 

Live Well York

An information and advice community website for adults.


An up-to-date list of community activities that are COVID-ready.

Opportunities and Projects

Find out more about some of the projects and opportunities happening around Culture and Wellbeing in York:



community website for families, children and young people, offering information, advice and wellbeing opportunities.

The Cultural Commissioning Partnership’s Role

© Accessible Arts & Media

Alongside City of York Council and Make It York, the principal partner in delivering the Culture Strategy’s objects for Culture and Wellbeing is the Cultural Commissioning Partnership (CCP). The CCP includes representation from Accessible Arts & Media, City of York Council, Converge (York St John University), Explore York Libraries & Archives, The Guild of Media Arts, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Make It York, National Centre for Early Music, National Railway Museum, Pilot Theatre, Tang Hall Big Local, York Archaeological Trust, York CVS, York Museums Trust, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and York Theatre Royal. 

The aim of the CCP is to support the work of the culture sector in York in delivering health and wellbeing outcomes as framed around the ambitions, objectives and outcomes of York’s Culture Strategy. 

For more info, please contact  

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