Arts practices in unreasonable doubt? Reflections on understandings of arts practices in healthcare contexts

Arts Health. 2011 Sep;3(2):95-109. doi: 10.1080/17533015.2010.551716. Epub 2011 Jun 13.


This article suggests that the discourse on arts and health encompass contemporary arts practices as an active and engaged analytical activity. Distinctions between arts therapy and arts practice are made to suggest that clinical evidence-based evaluation, while appropriate for arts therapy, is not appropriate for arts practice and in effect cast them in unreasonable doubt. Themes in current discourse on "arts" and "health" are broadly sketched to provide a context for discussion of arts practices. Approaches to knowledge validation in relation to each domain are discussed. These discourses are applied to the Irish healthcare context, offering a reading of three different art projects; it suggests a multiplicity of analyses beyond causal positive health gains. It is suggested that the social turn in medicine and the social turn in arts practices share some similar pre-occupations that warrant further attention.