Multi-Sector Approaches to Pandemic Planning and Responses: Embedding Arts and Culture in Strategy

Over 2010/11, Arts for Health is working with the Asia Europe Foundation to explore possible pandemic threats of the future and how businesses, governments and civil society might best prepare for these. Working with 26 high-level participants from multiple sectors including scientists, epidemiologists, governments, the media, wider health sectors and NGO’s we are exploring scenarios and strategies for enhanced pandemic preparedness.Through a series of active participatory workshops, the partnership is identifying some of the driving factors and uncertainties around future pandemics and are exploring themes to feed into work which will test some of the ideas, which in turn, will help refine and analyze the scenarios developed to inform long-term strategic implementation and outreach.

By interrogating existing foresight studies, the workshops are analysing the successes and failings of contemporary thought in this field. By unpicking the uncertainties associated with pandemic we have enabled a clustering of factors and identified polarities in thinking.

As the UK representative in this work, Arts for Health is engaged in dialogue around how messages are communicated globally. The polarities explored around these factors, focus on whether pandemic messages would be critically received, or would be met with indifference; with the media potentially propagating hysteria.

This project is very much ongoing, exploring notions of universal metaphors and the role of the media and new technologies being robustly discussed as part of the bigger picture. We are also discussing diversity and how distinct societies and communities around the world will interpret messages differently.

Whilst a good deal of the workshops are giving opportunity for blue-sky thinking, the work is grounded within a community of shared interest. The next stage of this work will give opportunity to explore the role of the artist in society, reflecting and questioning societal norms; in particular the role of the artist within research and development.

As this work is ongoing, Arts for Health are keen to hear from people who are interested in how the arts and cultural sector can play a role in this agenda. This might be about social marketing, or communicating risk; or it could be about how health services engage with communities and how communities in turn, inform new ways of thinking and working.

Key Links:

Arts/Health BLOG 

Arts for Health

The Asia Europe Foundation

Arts for Health

Manchester Metropolitan University
Lead by: Clive Parkinson, Director

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England