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Arts for Health: archive

  • Arts for Health
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Institutional archive of Arts for Health, mostly consisting of working papers and documents belonging to Peter Senior, Director of Arts for Health (1988-2007). The records mostly date from the establishment of Arts for Health in 1988 to 2007 when Peter Senior retired, although some collected resources predate the creation of Arts for Health. The bulk of the archive is a run of A-Z Subject Files, created and used by Arts for Health as a resource, and later maintained by AfH as an archive for researchers.

These subject files are arranged alphabetically, and the order has been largely kept as it was originally found. Titles reflect original file titles given, as indicated by inverted commas. Files on Arts for Health itself are integrated within this section, according to their title. This section also includes materials donated by Arts for Health from 2000s onwards which were not filed as part of the A-Z sequence. As such, these have not been integrated with the A-Z sequence, but have instead been catalogued in the following series: Project proposals; Arts for Health organisational records, 2000s onwards.

In addition to subject files, the archive contains an extensive run of photographs and slides, which were arranged A-Z by Arts for Health. These are mostly photographs of art in hospitals, and images of specific Arts for Health projects, programmes and workshops. The archive also includes publications and audio visual materials collected by, or referencing, Arts for Health.



Physical description

157 boxes; 7 O/S items and 11 digital items



As the archive was already ordered into two series of A-Z runs (Subject Files / Photograph and Slide Library), this original order has been maintained. This means that there is frequently overlap between files and researchers will need to cross-reference files. The catalogue is arranged into the following categories:

A: Subject Files A-Z and related Arts for Health organisational materials

B: Photograph and Slide Library

C: Resources: Publications and Audio Visual

D: Digital Material

Where possible, digital material has been integrated with related material in Subject Files. However, a large quantity of digital material were found to have no clear original order, and this material has been grouped together to form Section D.

Acquisition note

Donated between 8 July-16 September 2015

Biographical note

In 1988 Arts for Health (AfH) was founded as a National Voluntary Organisation with charitable status, based within Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University, MMU). The organisation developed from Hospital Arts Manchester (later LIME Arts), which was initiated by Peter Senior in 1973. Peter Senior then became director of Arts for Health from its establishment in 1988 until his retirement in 2007.

Arts for Health aimed to assist health authorities and others in developing the use and provision of arts within health settings. Arts for Health provided guidance on the use of arts to improve the quality of healthcare environments, from improving the design and layout of hospitals, to introducing commissioned artworks to provide a more 'healing environment'. Arts for Health also commissioned and delivered a mixed programme of arts based activities to patients and staff; activities included poetry, theatre, movement and dance, reminiscence activities, and art workshops. Participants of workshops included patients and users of health services, with some sessions focusing specifically on target groups including elderly people, children, mental health service users, and people with various disabilities. Its work focused on the national development of the arts in health movement, as well as working internationally in hospital settings around the world.

Arts for Health was created in response to the findings of The Committee of Inquiry into the Arts and Disabled People. The Committee was established by the Carnegie Trust UK in 1982, and was the first comprehensive review in the UK evaluating the facilities available for disabled people to participate in the arts. The report also recommended that health authorities should designate a coordinator of arts programmes and recommended that any new hospital should include artworks and facilities for arts activities. The committee was chaired by Richard Attenborough (Arts for Health President, 1989-2014). Peter Senior was also a member of the Committee. The report, commonly known as the Attenborough Report, was published in 1985. It was discussed in Parliament in December 1986 and May 1987.

As of 2018 when this collection was catalogued, Arts for Health remains active. Since Peter Senior's retirement in 2007, Arts for Health has been directed by Clive Parkinson.

Related material

There are several further collections relating to Arts for Health (ref: ART). See custodial history for more information.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Ownership note

A number of Arts and Health organisations deposited their collections at Manchester Metropolitan University to form what was known as the Arts for Health archive. In 2015, these papers were donated to Wellcome Library and subsequently divided into the following collections, with a unifying 'ART' prefix in the reference number. These collections are in the process of being catalogued; search the archives catalogue using the collection reference number for further information.

  • Arts for Health archive: the main organisational archive of Arts for Health; ART/AFH.
  • Healing Arts, Isle of Wight archive: Papers of Healing Arts, Isle of Wight from its establishment in 1984 up to 2012; "ART/IOW"..
  • Mike White archive: Papers relating to Mike White's work for Arts for Health while at Gateshead Council and Durham University; "ART/MIW"
  • Langley Brown archive: Papers relating to Langley Brown's work for Manchester Hospital Arts (now Lime), and for Start (Sheltered Training in the Arts); "ART/LAB".
  • Stockport Arts and Health archive: Papers of Stockport Arts and Health, 1990-2008; "ART/SAH".
  • Aiden Shingler archive: Papers of Aiden Shingler, relating to his work with Arts for Health; "ART/ASH"..
  • Graham Cooper archive: Cooper's working notes and research folders for projects on effects of hospital architecture on patient wellbeing and care; "ART/COO".
  • Lime Arts archive: Papers of Lime Arts, 1973-2007; "ART/LIM".
  • Artlink West Yorkshire: Organisational records, 1984-2010, "ART/AWY".
  • In addition, some grey literature and publications have been added to the Library's holdings, and can be searched for in the Library catalogue by searching "Donor: Arts for Health"
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