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Festival of Politics 2022
11 to 13 August
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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.


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.

Professor Raymond MacDonald

Raymond is Professor of Music Psychology and Improvisation at Edinburgh University where he was Head of Music between 2013 and 2017 and he lectures and runs workshops internationally. He is a charted Health Psychologist and also a saxophonist and composer. He has released over 60 CDs and toured and broadcast worldwide and has written music for film, television, theatre, radio and art installations. His ongoing research focuses on issues relating to improvisation, musical communication, music health and wellbeing, music education and musical identities. He studies the processes and outcomes of music participation and music listening and has a particular interest in collaborative creativity. His work is informed by a view of improvisation as a social, collaborative and uniquely creative process that provides opportunities to develop new ways of thinking and working creatively. He published over 70 peer reviewed papers and has co-edited five texts, Musical Identities (2002) and Musical Communication (2005), Musical Imaginations (2012) Music Health & Wellbeing (2012) and, The Handbook of Musical Identities (2017) He was editor of the journal Psychology of Music between 2006 and 2012 and Head of Music at University of Edinburgh 2013-2017. His recent book (co-authored with Graeme Wilson) is titled "The Art of The Becoming: How Group Improvisation works".

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