Conclusions from the Nordic Arts & Health Research Network project

Nordic Arts & Health Research Network meeting on 24-25 October 2023 in Hanaholmen, Espoo, Finland. Photo: Marit Stranden / Norwegian Resource Center for Arts and Health.


The Nordic Arts & Health Research Network is a cross-disciplinary network that fosters collaboration between researchers, artists-researchers and educators working within the arts & health field in the Nordic area. The network supports exchange and co-creation of knowledge and dissemination of research and practice experiences. The long-term objective of the network is to strengthen the arts and health field in the Nordic countries. It also serves as a platform for planning new Nordic arts & health themed research and RDI projects.

During the three-year project period (2021-2023) the network has organised six two-day meetings, consisting of keynotes, presentations, workshops and networking opportunities. Themes of the network meetings have included:

In addition to the network meetings, a Nordic Arts & Health Conference was organised in May 2022 in Stockholm, in order to engage a wider public. Reviews of the Nordic conference have been published e.g. in NJACH issue 2/2022, TALK online magazine and Kaltio issue 4/2022. Also, a special issue of the Nordic Journal of Arts, Culture and Health with papers from the conference was published in December 2022.

Round table discussion on the Nordic arts & health policies at the Nordic Arts & Health Conference in Stockholm, May 2022. Photo: Marit Stranden / Norwegian Resource Center for Arts and Health.

The next steps for the Nordic Arts & Health Research Network

As our networking project draws to a close at the end of 2023, the 120 network members from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are planning for new ways of carrying on the collaborations. During the year 2024 the network plans to meet online, and a working group has been set to ensure the continuation of the network. The network website will be updated with info about online meetings during 2024.

Publications from the network members will also continue to be updated to the network website, highlighting the multidisciplinary Nordic research in the field of arts, health and wellbeing. Further, the Nordic Journal of Arts, Culture and Health will continue to serve as a unique platform for open access publication of theme related research, practice and policy papers.


Considering ethical dilemmas in arts & health practice and research

One overarching theme for the Nordic Arts & Health Research Network project has been Arts & Health Ethics. Over the three years, we have organised two workshops (in 2021 and 2023) focusing on the theme of ethics and carried on the discussions during the network meetings. We have also had the privilege to have wonderful keynote speakers to facilitate the discussions, including community artist and researcher François Matarasso, focusing on the ethics of participatory art, and Professor Emeritus Töres Theorell, contemplating ethical dilemmas encountered in arts and health research.


Pictures: Aino Sutinen


During our network meetings, we have discussed, among other things, the core values in arts & health practice, including sustainability, respect, confidentiality, inclusion and sensitivity. Further, we have mapped and contemplated the ethical challenges we have encountered as arts & health practitioners, researchers and educators. We have reflected, for example, the difficulty of finding out how the arts activities really affect the participants. People can have delayed reactions, which makes it sometimes challenging to trace the individual responses. How to deal with the fact that along with the many positive effects, the arts can in some cases also trigger crisis? Detecting and understanding the unintended outcomes was considered essential, as well as the sensitivity to individual needs, responses and meanings.

Building on the learnings from the challenges encountered, it was reflected: how can we best support ethical practice and research? Ensuring space for discussions about the complex ethical dilemmas both inside the field, and between fields, was considered important. In terms of establishing sustainability and ensuring quality, the role of education was highlighted; adding ethical discussions in all our curricula was considered essential. Formal requirements for ethics reporting was also called for.

The need for developing general guidelines or codes of ethics for arts and health professionals was acknowledged during our discussions. Instead of creating our own separate framework for arts & health ethics (which was planned in the beginning of our networking project) we ended up collaborating and contributing to the “Arts Practice and the Ethics of Care” project, commissioned by the WHO Arts & Health initiative and led by New York University. This ongoing project focuses on identifying ethical considerations adopted by arts practitioners when engaging in projects where care is a central concern, as well as identifying considerations for caring for arts practitioners when engaging in contexts of care. The final product of the project will be a resource document, website, and social media platforms, aiming to share these ethical considerations with communities of arts practitioners worldwide.

Some of our discussions focusing on arts & health ethics have been recorded visually. You can find the visual review of our ethics themed meeting in June 2021 here.


We want to thank Nordic Culture Point for the financial support for our Nordic Arts & Health Research Network projects (2019-2020 & 2021-2023).