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Winston Churchill Fellowship to investigate arts on prescription

18 Feb 2021
Winston Churchill Fellowship awarded to Kim Morton of Christchurch to investigate arts on prescription

Written by

Ōtautahi Creative Spaces
Feb 17, 2021

Kim Morton, director of Ōtautahi Creative Spaces, an arts and mental health organisation from Christchurch, has received a Churchill Fellowship to research arts on prescription.

"Arts on prescription schemes are similar to green prescriptions” says Kim Morton.  “Health and whānau workers connect people who are unwell with arts programmes to build their health and wellbeing.” 

The mental health system is struggling to cope with demand, and arts on prescription is a proven way of improving mental health. Increasing access to creativity through a prescription could make a real difference in New Zealand.”

The focus of the research will be on how the arts on prescription schemes which operate overseas could be adapted for New Zealand communities. “My plan is to gather knowledge about arts on prescription using online platforms, and to share that with people in Dunedin and Christchurch, to get feedback about how it could be adapted here,” says Morton.

“With widespread mental distress experienced as a result of the pandemic, the role of the arts in building wellbeing is more important than ever. Many of us turned to creativity to help cope with the lockdown.” 

Christchurch is well placed to pilot arts on prescription, Morton says, with what we learned following the earthquakes about how creativity can help respond to trauma and mental distress.

“There was a lot of interest in arts on prescription during the consultation for Toi Ōtautahi, the arts strategy adopted by Christchurch City Council. Hauora wellbeing is one of four pou (pillars) for this strategy, reflecting the level of mental distress in our city, and the desire to make change.”

“Arts on prescription is a really great opportunity for collaboration by organisations from the health and arts sectors, such as Pegasus Health, Canterbury District Health Board, the Ministry of Health, Christchurch City Council and Creative New Zealand. I look forward to sharing what I learn with these organisations, so that together we can create something here that fits our needs.”

Churchill Fellowships allow citizens from all walks of life to design their own research projects, travel the world and further their knowledge in a chosen field, before returning to make their knowledge available to New Zealand society. Instead of travelling to the United Kingdom and Denmark as planned, Kim will undertake the fellowship in New Zealand, including a three-week stay at the Caselberg House in Dunedin. 

The Fellowship is made possible by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, founded at the request of and as a living memorial for Sir Winston Churchill. He believed that world peace and greater international understanding could be promoted through ordinary people travelling to other countries and experiencing other cultures. 

As part of the Fellowship requirements, Kim Morton will produce a full report of her investigation within six months of undertaking the project. These reports become public and are available online at the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust website. 

 “I warmly congratulate Kim Morton,” says Chair of the Trust, Joy Tracey. “We look

for New Zealanders who, like Churchill, are innovative, filled with a spirit of determination. Fellows are selected from all over New Zealand for the benefit they can provide to their community and New Zealand as a whole. 

“Since the Trust was established in 1965, over 900 Fellowships have been awarded. This represents an incredible wealth of knowledge and learning which the Trust has been responsible for generating and making available to our nation.“