A year since I first set up Medley to share art, music and nature for wellbeing, I thought I would look back over the last twelve months – and ahead to what might come next.
Integral to Medley is combining three different ways to boost wellbeing, that is, music, nature and art. Balancing the three areas is an opportunity and a challenge. In this first year, art has dominated – simply because I paint and draw and so I can lead on this myself. The 3 art for wellbeing projects I’ve run so far have focused on nature themes (birds and plants) so nature has also featured here. And maybe where I’ve balanced the three areas the most is in the Creative Ideas I produce regularly: suggestions of songs and music to listen to, art & craft ideas and ways to connect with nature, all on one theme each time – from Outer Space to the Olympics! The Medley blog has also covered the three areas equally.
What have I learned so far? Arts for wellbeing is so diverse, as needs and models differ hugely. There’s a lot of creativity going on in care homes, with people using imaginative ways to involve residents who may be disabled or frail. In the wider community many people respond to the idea of arts and nature for wellbeing, but may struggle to find time, motivation or confidence to take part regularly. But those who do can see art, music and nature absorb them, focus and clear their minds.
So I’ve been thinking back over this year. I’m so enjoying this new journey, getting to know new people, new creativity and new opportunities. But I need too to look ahead. What comes next?
When I told a charity founder (for whom I used to volunteer) that I was setting up Medley, he advised me to be flexible, to be prepared to adapt as I see how people react and respond to what I do. I’ve found that really helpful. Going with the flow doesn’t come naturally to me, I like to feel I have a plan. But I’m experimenting!
At the moment I’m running a longer art for wellbeing project, a Birds A-Z Challenge, which is set to run until January. I’ve also just sent out resource ideas to care homes for the National Day of Arts In Care Homes. One priority for the next year has to be to develop Medley’s music side more, as there’s such scope always for music to boost wellbeing. I’d also like to try reaching support groups for people facing particular issues, maybe hearing and sight loss, or to explore art for wellbeing for particular mental health issues like OCD or eco grief.
There are other questions as we all adjust to life post lockdown. What impact will the return to in-person groups and events have on online initiatives? Will people who turned to creativity or reconnected with nature in lockdown continue as life speeds up again? One certainty I feel is that arts and nature for wellbeing will only go on growing in new and different ways.
Thank you so much to all those who have supported Medley this first year with your encouragement and enthusiasm and by taking part in projects. Here’s to the next year!
If you would like to share any responses or ideas then do post in in Medley’s Facebook group. Thank you! https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002