Cultural Pharmacy - Artlands 2018

Presented by Regional Arts Victoria for Artlands Victoria 2018, in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo, the Australia Council for the Arts and VicHealth, the Cultural Pharmacy was an immersive art installation set in the Rosalind Park Conservatory in Bendigo. Responding to the 19th-century aesthetics of the site, artists created a magical, sensory environment where members of the general public could wander through and be exposed to the transformative effects of art and living a creative life. Fantastical sculptures amidst a sensory garden setting, performative gestures and rituals make the Cultural Pharmacy an environment that shifts participants into a creative mindset that has therapeutic qualities. The audience were invited to participate in making simple paper flowers and to take part in the alchemy of seeing these distilled into cultural tonics. These ‘cultural tonics’ prescribed an arts-related activity and encouraged exploration of the cultural and environmental assets of the region. The tonics were attributed to the health benefits associated with general categories of connecting, creating, contemplating and moving. 1260 people came through the Pharmacy across 4 days and almost 4000 tonics were dispensed.  The Cultural Pharmacy was nominated for a VicHealth Award in 2019.

Creative Team: Daryl Cordell, Carolyn Dew, Eliza-Jane Gilchrist, Mark Penzak. Music:  DJ Wind-Up. Performers: Kirstie Babbage, Briega Young, Rilke Laycock-Walsh & Clare Shamier. Original Commission Concept: Ros Abercrombie, Creative Director, Artlands 2018.

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Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project 2020

Presented by Mount Alexander Shire Council in partnership with VicHealth, the Cultural Pharmacy Testing Project developed the Pharmacy model as an allied cultural prescribing service for patients of local health services. Drawing on research that demonstrates the preventative and therapeutic benefits of engaging with arts and cultural activities, the Cultural Pharmacy will offer community members targeted cultural prescriptions to support their health and wellbeing. There is growing evidence and acceptance that participation in the creative arts supports health care and promotes health and wellbeing in communities. Singing can aid respiratory fitness, dancing improves muscle tone and balance; drawing and listening to music reduces stress by lowering cortisol, attending cultural events and joining arts and craft groups connects us. This project looked to enhance local regional health services by supporting health practitioners to connect patients to art activities that reinforce beneficial clinical outcomes. Given the project took place during COVID lockdowns, new cultural tonics were designed to direct participants to activities that could be undertaken within the restrictions. While a physical pharmacy could not be tested, health sector expertise informed the accessibility of the tonics and helped shape a cultural prescribing service model for health services.

Creative Team: Carolyn Dew & Eliza-Jane Gilchrist,

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