Art Angel is an arts advocacy project run for and by people with experience of mental health difficulties, offering a wide spectrum of arts based activities as a means of positive self-expression, creative exploration, self-development through creativity, developing communication and peer support.
The project encourages provides continuity, energising and stimulating participants, building confidence and self-esteem and a sense of purpose in an friendly and inclusive environment. This in turn empowers participants to voice their views, ideas and opinions not only within the project but also as a valid member of their community. Participants learn new skills, build on dormant abilities and benefit from the therapeutic value of arts participation in a non-clinical environment. Those who wish to develop and exhibit their work in the community are encouraged and supported to generate exhibitions, publish books, perform live or have films shown in local cinemas which not only raises awareness of mental health issues but creates an opportunity for participants to re-define themselves as artists with a new found talent to share within the community thus celebrating the wide range of excellent and unique work generated.
Through participants testimonies and evaluation it has become clear that the project has been a transforming experience for many, providing a sense of achievement, integration, positive challenges, new experiences, recovery, well being and an enhanced ability to cope with everyday life. This has been substantiated by Independent research undertaken by Hester Parr from the University of Dundee, Geography department, highlighting that participants, families and carers feel that after working with Art Angel for a few years that they have begun cope better with periods of ill health and have more confidence in speaking out and are more able to express their needs and wishes.
Art Angel is a person-centred project which treats each participant as an individual with his or her own talents and abilities.
Art Angel tutors and volunteers participate in a regular programme of training to develop their skills and abilities and explore new ideas within arts and mental health. Weekly evaluations are written by tutors and three monthly evaluations are completed by participants so that the project regularly develops its own ideas and strategies according to the views of the participants.