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Get prescribed a dose of culture in new health initiative

Person enjoying the therapeutic benefits of singing.

Residents in the shire may soon be prescribed activities such as singing, dancing and drawing for ailments as part of a new arts/health initiative, the Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Residents in the shire may soon be prescribed activities such as singing, dancing and drawing for ailments as part of a new arts/health initiative, the Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project.

Council received funding from VicHealth’s Art of Good Health Partnership Grants to implement the initiative, which supports local health services in connecting residents to a variety of restorative arts and cultural activities.

Developed by local artists Eliza-Jane Gilchrist and Carolyn Dew, the Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project is intended to complement traditional forms of treatment. It draws on research outlining the preventative and therapeutic benefits of engaging in arts and cultural activities.

“There is growing evidence and acceptance that participation in the creative arts supports health care and promotes health and wellbeing in communities,” said Ms Dew.

“Singing can aid respiratory fitness, dancing improves muscle tone and balance, drawing and listening to music reduces stress by lowering cortisol, and joining arts and craft groups connects us with others,” she said.

The team behind the Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project is encouraging local general practitioners (GPs) who are interested in getting involved to get in touch.

“We would love to hear from local health providers interested in taking part in this pilot project,” said Ms Dew.

“While this might be a relatively new idea for the shire, the integration of a cultural prescribing service into mainstream health services is something already being practised in some parts of the world.”

Vicki Anderson, Cultural Development Officer, Mount Alexander Shire Council, said that the partnership with VicHealth provides an opportunity to co-design low-cost and effective delivery models, to add real value to our local health services.

“The Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project will encourage more people to benefit from the value that our local arts, culture and creative industries bring to our overall sense of community wellbeing,” said Ms Anderson.

“Through COVID-19, it is particularly important that we work collaboratively in exploring new ways to keep our community feeling connected,” she said.

For more information, contact Carolyn Dew, Cultural Pharmacy Project Manager, Mount Alexander Shire Council at c.dew@mountalexander.vic.gov.au or call 5471 1700.



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