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Festival of Politics 2021
20 to 24 October
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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Why culture is key to good health and well-being

Time: 2pm to 3pm

Discover the power of arts and culture in addressing society’s health and well-being.


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Event information

How important is culture in the health and well-being of society?

The sustainable provision of health care is a vital concern for all governments. Thanks to a growing body of clinical and neurological research, there is increasing evidence that participation in cultural activity offers revolutionary benefits for a range of medical conditions.

From dementia and singing, to Parkinson’s disease and dance, the social and economic benefits of arts in healthcare are still being explored and understood by policy makers, the public and the medical community.

Join the panel to discover the power of arts and culture in addressing society’s health and well-being.

This event is brought to you in partnership with Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation. It is chaired by Clare Adamson MSP, Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee.


David Leventhal, Program Director, Dance for PD and former member of Mark Morris Dance Group

David Leventhal is a founding teacher and Program Director for Dance for PD®, a program of the Mark Morris Dance Group that has been used as a model for classes in more than 300 communities in 25 countries. He leads classes for people living with Parkinson's disease around the world and trains other teaching artists in the Dance for PD® approach. He's co-produced five volumes of a successful instructional video series and helped conceive and design Moving Through Glass, a dance-based Google Glass App for people with Parkinson's. He received the 2018 Martha Hill Mid-Career Award, the 2016 World Parkinson Congress Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Parkinson's Community and was a co-recipient of the 2013 Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award from the Parkinson's Unity Walk. He serves on the board of the Davis Phinney Foundation, is an advisory board member for the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center's Arts and Humanities Program and the Johns Hopkins University/Aspen Institute NeuroArts Blueprint, and is a founding member of the Dance for Health committee for the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS). As a dancer, he performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group from 1997-2011, appearing in principal roles in some of Mark Morris' most celebrated works and receiving a 2010 Bessie Award for his performance career.

Sarah Munro

Sarah Munro, Director of Baltic, Gateshead and Scotland's Futures Forum Board Member has 20 years’ experience of cultural leadership following a distinguished career in Glasgow as both Artistic Director of Tramway and Head of Arts for the city, where she led the bid to bring Turner Prize 2015 to Scotland for the first time. As Head of Arts for Glasgow Life since 2012, Munro incorporated her role at the international arts centre Tramway, as well as responsibility for a portfolio that includes: Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, Gallery of Modern Art’s temporary exhibitions programme and the Merchant City Festival. She has also led a team of arts producers that work across some of the most disadvantaged communities in Glasgow. Prior to this, as Artistic Director of Tramway from 2008 to 2012, Munro led the revitalisation of the centre’s public programming including visual arts and dance, which increased attendance at the venue by more than two thirds and enhanced both their critical reputation and audience engagement. From 1996 until 2008, as Director at the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Munro transformed the organisation into an internationally recognised space with a unique position in Scotland. While at Tramway and Collective Gallery, Munro curated, commissioned and produced over 200 exhibitions, performances and offsite projects. Sarah Munro is Chair of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art; Vice Chair of the Pier Art Centre, Orkney and Advisory Member for MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art), Glasgow School of Art/Glasgow University. She gained an MA (Hons) in Politics and Philosophy from University of Dundee and holds a PG Diploma from City University, London.

Dr Katie Overy

Dr Katie Overy is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Edinburgh. Her core research interest is musical learning, which she explores from the perspectives of music psychology, cognitive neuroscience and classroom pedagogy. She is especially interested in the positive effects of musical experience and in bringing together ideas on this subject from theory, research and practice across different disciplines. She has published over 40 papers and book chapters and supervised or examined over 20 interdisciplinary PhD theses on topics such as music and dyslexia, music in foreign language learning, music in prison education and music for cochlear implant users. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year, UK. One focus of Katie’s research is the musical brain and she has co-edited several special issues on this topic, including for Transactions of the Royal Society B (2015), Proceedings of the New York Academy of Sciences (2012), Cortex (2009) and Contemporary Music Review (2009). From 2010-2013 she was the UK partner in the EC Marie Curie International Training Network EBRAMUS (Europe, Brain and Music) and from 2014-5 she was a Visiting Professor of Music Education at Western University, Canada, where she helped to establish Music, Cognition and the Brain, a new research initiative. She is currently collaborating with Lothian Birth Cohorts on studies of musical experience and ageing, amongst other ongoing projects.

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