Cultural education news, research, policy and strategy

January 2020

The impact of culture and the arts on young people’s mental health

In 2019, the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds hosted a conference for delegates from NHS, community healthcare, education, academia, arts and culture to consider how the arts and cultural participation can help improve mental health outcomes for children and young people. The keynote address was made by Dame Benny Refson, founder and president of schools’ mental health charity Place2Be. Young people from a range of backgrounds and experiences shared their perspectives. Chaired by Kimberley Robinson, from mental health charity Keep Real, the panellists discussed accessibility to arts activities, especially outside mainstream education, and the erosion of the arts curriculum in schools. Several of the young people spoke about how cultural participation had contributed to their own better mental health. Footage of the panal discussion can be viewed here.

The Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network (LAHWN) has recently been launched. The network aims to connect clinicians and public health bodies with a range of organisations and arts professionals who are engaging in arts and health activities in Leeds.


November 2019

Research exploring the impact of theatre on the provision of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development in schools

Over recent years, changes to the educational landscape have resulted in a decrease in arts activity in schools. To respond to these challenges Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah initiated a pilot project to investigate new ways of working, building on the findings of a report by the Royal Society of the Arts called ‘Schools with Soul’. This report focused on Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development (SMSC) and found that, whilst this area had the potential to lay the groundwork for young people to manage the complex demands of modern life, provision in many schools was marginalised with low levels of teacher confidence. Much Theatre in Education has strong connections to SMSC and so the project was designed to test the impact of theatre pedagogies on SMSC provision, using an integrated model of a live performance, The Vultures’ Song (inspired by the Partition of India) and accompanying digital interactive educational resources.

Research was carried out into the impact of the project. This can be found here.  For further information about the project or to find out more about the Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah, please contact


For previous news, please visit the links below:

March 2019 News

January 2019 News

December 2018 News


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