Waterford Healing Arts Trust has launched Réalta, the national body for arts and health in Ireland.  Réalta has been established to strengthen the arts and health sector in Ireland and provide a central resource for all those interested and involved in arts and health.  The launch took place on Friday 3 March at the HSE-RCSI Educational Facility, University Hospital Waterford (UHW), with guest speaker Mr Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health Lead at the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Other guest speakers on the day included Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chairperson of the Arts Council, Grace O’Sullivan, MEP and Patron of Waterford Healing Arts and Catherine Drea, Chairperson, Waterford Healing Arts.

Réalta will lead the development of the arts and health sector in Ireland through support, promotion and advancement, and the demonstration of excellence in artistic delivery.  Réalta will develop and deliver a range of arts and health training programmes for artists, healthcare professionals and arts and health managers; provide access to information, mentoring and advice; support networking of arts and health practitioners; and engage with the HSE and other policy makers to increase understanding and support of arts and health practice.  Réalta is based at the Centre for Arts + Health at University Hospital Waterford.

Waterford Healing Arts Trust has undertaken the setting up of this national resource organisation in light of its experience, leadership and credibility in arts and health practice in Waterford over the last 30 years, and nationally since 2008.  The establishment of Réalta was based on Waterford Healing Arts Trust’s awareness of the need for such a lead organisation at national level within the arts and health sector, which was confirmed in the outcomes of a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process carried out by the Board and Executive in 2021-2022.  This consultation was part of a wider business planning process which also resulted in the development of a long-term strategy for the Réalta organisation and the re-branding of Waterford Healing Arts Trust to Waterford Healing Arts.

Announcing the launch of Réalta, Claire Meaney, Director explained: “Réalta is the biggest development in our organisation’s history.  Waterford Healing Arts Trust has a decades-long history of bringing arts experiences to the bedside of patients at UHW and other healthcare settings in Waterford.  We also have a national remit, to develop and promote the field of arts and health throughout Ireland.  We have been fulfilling this role incrementally over the last 15 years, through an increasing programme of networking and training events, and through the development of the now internationally renowned resource website artsandhealth.ie, which provides an online encyclopaedia of information for the arts and health sector.  The establishment of Réalta is a natural progression of our national work and we are very grateful to our core funders the Arts Council and the HSE for their vote of confidence in supporting us to take this significant step forward.”

Catherine Drea, Chairperson, added “This is a really exciting development for Waterford Healing Arts Trust, for artsandhealth.ie and for the wider arts and health community.  We have a new national resource organisation dedicated to embedding arts in healthcare in Ireland, to advocating for arts and health at the highest level, and to leading by example through the inspiring practice of Waterford Healing Arts and artsandhealth.ie.  Réalta will spearhead our national work.  Waterford Healing Arts will continue its extensive programme bringing arts experiences to patients, staff and families throughout Waterford, and artsandhealth.ie will continue its excellent service to the national and international arts and health community.  Combining all three, under the scope of Réalta, will enhance best practice and strengthen connections in the growing arts and health sector.  The future looks even brighter today with the creation of Réalta shining a light on the transformative and central role the arts play in health.”

Additional Information:

Réalta, the national body for arts + health in Ireland, seeks to embed the arts in healthcare in Ireland.  Réalta’s mission is to lead the development of the arts and health sector through support, promotion and advancement, and the demonstration of excellence in artistic delivery.  Réalta will achieve this through three key pillars of focus: training and supports, sector development and inspiring practice.  Réalta is core funded by the Arts Council and the HSE.

Waterford Healing Arts will continue to deliver its extensive arts programme at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and other healthcare settings, offering patients, family members, staff and artists opportunities to engage in high quality participatory programmes and environmental enhancement initiatives.  In addition, as part of the wider Réalta organisation, Waterford Healing Arts will offer its programmes and systems as examples of good practice, it will continue to pilot new ideas and initiatives, and this experience and insight will inform Réalta’s national training, support, advocacy and awareness programmes.  Waterford Healing Arts is part of Réalta, the national body for arts + health in Ireland.  www.waterfordhealingarts.com

artsandhealth.ie will continue to inspire and promote best practice via sector updates, case studies, commissioned opinion pieces and national and international resources.  Additionally, the encyclopaedic resource that is artsandhealth.ie will provide a substantial foundation of knowledge, constantly updated, for Réalta.  artsandhealth.ie is managed by Réalta, the national body for arts + health in Ireland, with the support of an editorial panel.