Creating the future of arts in health in the Netherlands.

On Friday 16 February 2024, over 200 scholars, health professionals, artists, funders, administrators, and policy makers came together at Groningen's Grand Theatre for the Care Through Creativity event. This was the start of a national effort to build a more cohesive arts in health field for the Netherlands.


The Care Through Creativity event officially launched the white paper Arts in health in the Netherlands: A national agenda, published by the University of Groningen Press. The white paper represents the contributions of scholars, health professionals, artists, funders, administrators, and policy makers. The white paper:

  • Describes how the arts contribute to the transformation of the Dutch healthcare system.

  • Surveys the arts in health field in the Netherlands.

  • Connects research and the practice of arts in health for public health policy in the Netherlands. 

  • Offers a set of goals and recommended actions to guide future planning and implementation.

Many thanks to our steering committee partners:
University of Groningen/Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Landelijk Kennisinstituut Cultuureducatie en Amateurkunst
University Medical Center Groningen

A crowd of people raising their hands

The Care Through Creativity event filled Groningen's Grand Theatre with an inspiring program of arts in health practice, research, and conversations with leading Dutch experts, scientists.

The event featured international guests such as Christopher Bailey, Arts in Health Lead for the World Health Organization; and Kornelia Kiss, Head of Research and Development for Culture Action Europe.

Active creativity
Care Through Creativity was both festive and active, with ballet master/dance for health specialist Andrew Greenwood turning the audience into a sea of dancing jellyfish, and violinists Krista de Wit and Luca Altdorfer demonstrating 'person-centred music making'.

Christopher Bailey, Arts in Health Lead for the WHO, performed a powerful monologue, ‘Vanishing Point’,   about his loss of vision and what it taught him about human perception, connection, and the healing power of art.

Arts in health in the Netherlands: A national agenda
The white paper, and its goals to strengthen the arts in health field in the Netherlands, was presented by Tineke Abma and Barbara van Leeuwen. Also research on art as care  in hospitals, long-term care and the social domain was explored in a panel conversation with Hanneke van der Wal-Huisman, Barbara Groot, Marlies Tal. A conversation with Christopher Bailey and Kornelia Kiss, and Ferdinand Lewis dove deeper into the international research, including the existing scientific evidence for the use of art to promote health and well-being, and what we can learn from about policy development for the Netherlands.

To kick off the arts in health movement in Groningen, the white paper was handed over to Tjeerd van Dekken, Provincial Executive for the Province of Groningen for Art & Culture, and Health, Well-being & Care.

‍Cross-sectoral collaboration
In the week leading up to the white paper launch, Arts in Health Netherlands and the white paper steering committee stimulated cross-sectoral policy development with a meeting in Den Haag at the ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, also attended by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. In that meeting, the white paper was handed over to the director of heritage & art, and the director-general of curative health, who both enthusiastically agreed to help move the national arts in health agenda forward.

The white paper’s steering committee and co-authors are already busy making connections and plans for implementing the goals formulated in the white paper.

Care Through Creativity was supported by the Grand Theater, Nationaal Programma Groningen and the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health.

Two laughing woman playing the violine

Over 30 years of international research points to the positive health effects of the arts. This paper was developed to encourage administrators, funders, governments, researchers and artists to explore how the field of arts in health can contribute to the transformation of healthcare.

Download the whitepaper

A lot of arts in health whitepapers on a table

Arts in Health Netherlands