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A visit to Romania's social engagement: how arts are employed for the welfare of marginalized groups

On 25th and 26th January 2024, the PerFare partnership participated in the fourth project field visit, hosted by AltArt Foundation in the beautiful city of Cluj-Napoca, unofficial capital of the Transylvania Region in Romania.

Behind the lively university life and rich history, persistently felt all around the city, lies a capillary cultural scene that is strongly focused on the social benefit of each and every people.


Roma people: a long forgotten community

In particular, rights for Roma people are often addressed. Associations like Social Fiber, Shoshin Theatre and AltArt itself have implemented or currently have ongoing projects aimed at the improvement of the severe discriminating conditions that Roma people face on a daily basis.

The CMA - Cluj Metropolitan Area, which comprises Cluj-Napoca and 19 nearby communes: Aiton, Apahida, Baciu, Bonţida, Borșa, Căianu, Chinteni, Ciurila, Cojocna, Feleacu, Floresti, Gilău, Gârbău, Jucu, Petresti de Jos, Săvădisla, Sânpaul, Tureni, Vultureni, has worked with the association Desegregare in the amazing Pata-Cluj project, followed by Pata 2.0, relocating Roma people from the Pata Rât area in new apartments in the city centre, with the aim to give back the right for a future back to the community.

From 2014, the Desegregare association has joined forces with other local stakeholders to fight for the rights of this millennial community, also engaging in cultural activities such as art and music for the Pata Rât children and teenagers, together with Social Fiber and AltArt Fundatia.

The theatre company REACTOR, born in 2014 and active in the social theatre field thanks to specific activities linked to issues among youngsters, also organized a theatre performance in Pata Rât, together with AltArt, in 2016.

Within all the actions activated in the area, the Khetane Festival is a worth mentioning best practice that brought - for the first time ever - around 700 people from the city into the Pata Rât community thanks to its incredible programme.


Practices for youths and elderly

The social vein of Cluj-Napoca is also visible when it comes to initiatives for youngsters and elderly people.

For instance, the FRCC - Romanian Foundation for Children, Community and Family is a day care institution located in the city centre, supported by UK funds and private funds, where teenagers in poverty and/or with psychological disorders can meet after school to be followed by a team of psychologists, educators, teachers and social animators. During their stay, which is determined according to one or more "interventions" lasting 6 months, guests are supported with school activities and engage in extracurricular activities, where arts such as painting, handwriting and music are explored (also in view of discovering each kid's vocation).

As for the elderly, DASM collaborates with the City Municipality and other associations to provide consistent care for elderly. It consists of 2 day care centers where they use art as a tool to improve aging conditions. Their guests paint, make music, sing, dance, organise shows and even participated in an Erasmus+ project where a group of 15 people travelled in Europe attending museums, in order to improve their skills in digitalisation.
DASM is also involved in a plan for building a cultural centre in Pata Rât that will provide sport and cultural activities, along with services like washing machines and psychological and social assistance.

The good practices existing in Cluj-Napoca are definitely too many to list in one go.
Explore the links to know more about each reality introduced.

And now, just enjoy some pictures from the study visit:


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Connecting locally: all the Culture and Health collaborations established thanks to PERFARE

During the first project period, the PERFARE partnership has connected with the local welfare stakeholders to find their "perfect match" to collaborate with in the creation of the local synergies that will generate the PERFARE pilot actions.

From 1 to up to 4 local connections, each partner has successfully found a welfare organization willing to experiment with artistic interventions in their daily work and to investigate the beneficial "contamination" of Culture&Health practices.

Every connection will result into one artistic intervention, which will be selected among the proposals received via the CALL FOR ACTION launched on 14th September and closing on 17th November 2023.



Consorzio Marche Spettacolo is collaborating with Associazione Piombini Sensini (located in Macerata) and with Associazione Un Battito di Ali (located in Jesi and operating in the Ancona Torrette Hospital).

Associazione Piombini Sensini's services are aimed at minors and adults who experience situations of personal or family difficulty, social marginalization and psychophysical suffering. The Association's activities are aimed at improving the quality of life and developing the autonomy of the weakest and most disadvantaged people; the provision of various services is a response to the personal and relational needs of daily life, allowing the valorization of rights and resources of each individual.

Associazione Un Battito di Ali is a secular and independent association with the aim of promoting and supporting projects and initiatives of the SOD Cardiac Surgery and Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology c/o Ospedali Riuniti of Ancona.

Thus, for Italy, 2 local artistic interventions will be developed.



As a network of municipalities, Artemrede has connected the Municipality of Pombal and the Municipality of Lisbon with 4 realities operating in the welfare system.

The Municipality of Pombal will be supporting one artistic intervention together with Leiria Hospital Center - District Hospital of Pombal.

The Municipality of Lisbon will be collaborating with Alzheimer Portugal (Private Social Solidarity Institution and Patients’ Association), Boa Vizinhança Santo António (Cultural Solidarity Network between Neighbors) and Centro Social Paroquial de São Jorge de Arroios (Non-profit Private Institution of Social Solidarity), bringing 3 artistic interventions to life in Lisbon and its surroundings.



The AltArt Foundation will be supporting the creation of one artistic intervention together with Fundația Română pentru Copii - Comunitate și Familie, one of the most important non-governmental organizations focused on child protection in Romania, helping children that are living in poverty and providing support to their families and communities.



ProProgressione chose to collaborate with EMMA Közhasznú Egyesület and Vázsonyi Vilmos Idősek Otthona to develop 2 artistic interventions in Hungary.

The EMMA Association is a national women’s organization, which works for the fundamental rights and societal equality of women, paying special attention to gender-based oppression and violence against women during the childbearing and childrearing period.

Vázsonyi Vilmos Idősek Otthona is an elderly home whose main goal is to provide safe, balanced, peaceful living conditions, personalized care and care for all their residents by providing the necessary services.



Finally, Malmö City Archives have partnered up with the Health, Care and Welfare Department of Malmö to bring the artistic intervention in one or two of the total 38 elderly homes located in the city of Malmö, with a focus on participation, creation and social inclusion.


What will be the selected artistic interventions?

The rounds of selections will end by April 2024. Bear with us to get to know the winners!


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The calls to action are out!

Are you an artist or cultural operator working in Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Romania or Sweden?

Are you interested in adding a Culture&Care artistic experience into your daily work?


Send us your application!







Select your country and apply.

Check your country-specific eligibility criteria before applying.


This 5 calls for action, one for each country involved, are launched to fund artistic interventions that involve audience groups composed of the local populations targeted by the project PERFARE.

PERFARE (2022-2025) is a project co-funded by the Creative Europe Culture Programme, which intends to enhance the cooperation between the cultural and the welfare sector, by creating innovative models for artistic interventions supporting people with physical or mental health issues.
The main aims of PERFARE are to facilitate the access to performing art experiences for audience groups with health and social related issues and to innovate the partner organisations' creative models in order to make health&wellbeing services an integral part of their artistic work.
To this end, PERFARE partners Consorzio Marche Spettacolo (IT), Pro Progressione (HU), Artemrede (PT), Foundation AltArt (RO) and City of Malmö - City Archives (SE) set up cooperation agreement with local welfare stakeholders to fund one or more pilot artistic interventions that will test how perfoming arts can support people with physical and/or mental health conditions.
  1. This application will remain open until 17th November 2023.
  2. The selection of the winning proposal will happen between DECEMBER 2023 and APRIL 2024.
  3. The winning proposal will be implemented between MAY 2024 and MAY 2025.
The winning proposal will be communicated directly to the selected applicant not later than 2 months prior the suggested date of implementation, and anyway not later than APRIL 2024.
You should be an artist or cultural operator operating in the countries covered by the project (Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Sweden). Please send your application to your specific country of reference.
Please check each different call-to-action for country-specific eligibility criteria.
Please refer to the AWARD CRITERIA table to consult the criteria that will be followed to select the winning proposals.
Thank you in advance for your proposals!

Arts on Prescription: a growing, Europe-wide practice for people's wellbeing

PERFARE's study visits have been incredibly enlightening when it comes to Culture&Care practices.
The partners had the chance to meet many projects up close, which engage performing arts practices to prevent and alleviate social, mental and physical conditions.

One of the most interesting concepts is that of Arts on Prescription. This practice isn't exactly new on the market, being around since 1994, but it now drawing more and more attention all over Europe.


What is Arts on Prescription?

Arts on Prescription (AOP) is a program where healthcare professionals refer individuals to art workshops to improve psychosocial health. It is part of social prescribing and benefits those with mild to moderate mental health issues.

AOP is a non-medical approach that aids psychophysical recovery and considers social, economic, and environmental factors. It promotes holistic well-being and recognizes the impact of non-biophysical factors on health.



The United Kingdom was the pioneer in offering the integration of social and cultural activities alongside therapeutic prescriptions.

Starting in the mid-1990s, general practitioners began incorporating social and cultural elements into their treatment plans.

The first example was the AoP Stockport, launched in 1994, which provided individuals with mild to moderate anxiety or depression the opportunity to engage in various creative activities aimed at improving their mental well-being. 


A few European examples

While in the UK most AoP programs are driven by artists, in the Scandinavian model they rely more often on museum and cultural organizations and institutions.

The project promoted by the municipality of Malmö, with the support of the Skåne region, goes in this direction. A typical program is structured over approximately 10 days and offers participants with mental health issues a series of artistic and cultural activities. Groups consist of about 8-12 people and the activities vary from program to program and may include theatre, museum and gallery visits, music and singing, visual arts.

Read more:ö


In Italy, the practice of directing artistic and cultural programs towards health promotion, disease prevention, and the management of pathological conditions, including degenerative diseases, is gradually gaining ground.

An example is the AOP project located in Emilia-Romagna, where the regional authority, in collaboration with the ATER Foundation, launched Sciroppo di Teatro. This project brings together 153 general practitioners, 236 pharmacies, and a network of 36 theaters and companies specializing in theater for children and young people. The project aims to contribute to the development of cultural welfare policies, particularly focusing on theater for children and families.

Read more:


Another example of a recently launched AoP project is the one funded and promoted by the Interreg Baltic Sea region: Arts on Prescription in the Baltic Sea Region.

Local and regional public authorities, in collaboration with cultural institutions, are piloting the program, evaluating its health effects, organizational setup, and economic benefits. The arts on prescription model is then transferred to other cities and regions, supported by an online practitioner's guide and a rent-an-expert program.

Furthermore, the project aims to initiate dialogue with national authorities and health insurance funds to enhance structural support and financing options for arts on prescription. 

Read more:


Like them, Greece is also launching a national AoP programme, which provides for a structure similar to that already developed in the UK and in the Scandinavian region.

Read more:



These are just a few examples of AOP Programs existing Europe-wide. Many more are growing every other day, signaling a message well-received when it comes to WHO studies on the benefit of cultural activities on mental and physical health.

These studies comparing the overall life satisfaction levels of individuals with a vibrant cultural life to those experiencing cultural exclusion reveal a difference of more than ten percentage points in favor of the former. In addition to enhancing mood and life satisfaction, the use of art as a prescribed intervention can breathe life into the cultural sector and, particularly, the performing arts industry.



Article by
Ilaria Ciaroni
Andrea Belegni

Portugal: a hotbed for Culture&Health practices - third study visit

A new occasion for the PERFARE partners to meet up: on July 4th and 5th the third study visit will take place in Montemor-o-novo, in Portugal, and aims to explore the good practices in the field of cultural welfare that currently exist in the Portuguese territory.

This time it's Artemrede's turn to welcome the partnership and the programme they put together promises valuable inputs. Indeed, it will include moments of discussion with cultural and health&care operators, in order to stimulate the connection between the two sectors, as well as presentations and visits to spaces dedicated to experimenting with Culture&Health practices, including:


CIMAC and Pó de Vir a Ser
Program for an Inclusive Culture in Central Alentejo

"Transforma - Program for an Inclusive Culture of Central Alentejo", coordinated by CIMAC and co-financed by the European Social Fund under Alentejo 2020, aims to promote social inclusion among excluded or isolated populations, through an integrated approach between culture and social inclusion in a predominantly rural and low-density context. Transforma intends to establish a differentiating approach in the way in which culture can generate social cohesion and inclusion, economic growth, sustainable environmental practices, in a logic of participatory citizenship and territorial proximity.


Training, Music Therapy and Expressive Therapies

The Artistic Musical Society of Pousos – SAMP – is a Public Utility Entity founded in 1873.
Among the various activities of SAMP, the art education project dedicated to early childhood stands out, of which it was a pioneer at a national level and which constitutes a reference with some of its programs, as well as the strong social intervention that its programs include in the ambit of therapeutic effects of the arts.


Art creation space for artists with mental illness

Manicómio is the first outsider art studio in Portugal. Located in Lisbon in a creative cowork space, it brings together artists who have or have had mental health issues, professionals from the creative sector and companies. Manicómio is also a design studio (the Agencia Manicómio) for all creatives who have suffered and suffer from mental illness. Manicómio is a 20-year struggle for honesty, dignity and recognition of artists who are excluded from the art world due to the stigma resulting from their history of mental health. In addition to artwork and exhibitions, Manicómio guides its artists in other creative and commercial ventures, such as advertising, illustration, jewelry and media. It is a space of human, social, financial and aesthetic dignity.


Read the complete programme HERE



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Second newsletter issue

We're back from the second field visit... and ready for the third!

On 27th and 28th April,
Malmö City Archives hosted us for an amazing programme
filled with inspiring practices.
And on 4th and 5th July,
the partnership will meet up in Montemor-o-Novo
to discover the Portuguese best practices on cultural welfare.


Read here the second newsletter issue

Cultural welfare in Malmö - Study visit in Sweden

6 months after our first study visit, the partners are now ready for the second one, now hosted by The City of Malmö - City Archives in Malmö, Sweden.

On 27th and 28th April, project partners and welfare stakeholders are invited to discover the local best practices sperimenting the beneficial collaboration between Culture&Arts and the Health&Wellbeing sector.

For the occasion, the hosting partner has invited guests with relevant experience on the cultural welfare field, who will further inspire the partners in relation to the upcoming project activities.

Malmö Museums
Birgitta Kelly, Museum Pedagogue

The Museums in Malmö do not only display art and culture, but often involve educational activities including seniors and people with special needs, as well as being part of the initiative Arts On Prescription.

Birgitta Kelly works in the Museum Department of The City of Malmö as a Museum Pedagogue.

Arts On Prescription
Anita Jensen, Culture & Health Strategist in primary healthcare

Arts on Prescription (AoP) is a complementary intervention used to support people who are on sick leave due to stress, anxiety and depression and/or musculoskeletal pain, defined as participating in arts activities in closed groups, for 2.5 hours twice a week for ten weeks including i.e. song, crafts, drama and concert.
Patients are identified and referred to AoP by professionals in primary health care and outpatient psychiatric care.

Anita Jensen writes academic articles on Arts on Prescriptions in Sweden, but also in the other Northern Countries, being Norway, Denmark and the UK.


Dance for Parkinsons
Marie Norrthon, Project Manager Skånes Dance Theatre

A dance workshop for persons with Parkinson's Disease: Dance for Parkinsons consists of classes where participants are empowered to explore movement and music.

Marie Norrthon is a creative producer with many years of experience in making culture available, creating meetings and enabling joint experiences. Her areas of interest are performing arts, art and culture in all forms, public service and accessibility issues, urban development, cultural planning, cultural planning and cultural policy.


Ed Damron
, artistic director, and Kajsa Littgren, producer, at Expressteatern

Expressteatern was formed in 1986 after studies at Écoles Jacques Lecoq "Mime, mouvement et théatre" in Paris. It created more than 40 performances, mostly for young audiences. They play both on their stage in Malmö and on tour, with the support of Malmö City, Region Skåne, and the Norwegian Culture Council. Expressteatern wants to create a theater that is simple and direct, that makes people's dreams and feelings visible, using the physical theater traditions: mime, masquerade, clowning and commedia dell'arte.


The programme also includes visits of the Malmö City Archives, The Malmö Art Gallery and the Tuppen (The Rooster) - a meeting place for the elderly, run by the Health, Care and Welfare Department.

The City of Malmö

Malmö is one of Sweden's largest and most densely populated cities. Malmö is also an interesting cultural centre, right on the border with Denmark, founded in the 10th century to monitor European sea transits.

In this context, The City of Malmö - City Archives stores the whole Malmö's memory with archives from the city's administration and authorities, as well as large collections of, among other things, family and association archives.

With its concept “Culture for the elderly”, the Archives develop collaborative work between welfare and culture administrations, with the mission to coordinate and make available a wide, qualitative, cultural offering for the elderly population in the city of Malmö. “Culture for the elderly” offers activities where the elderly both consume and co-create. To make this possible, collaborations with cultural institutions are developed and continuously developing, such as with Malmö’s museums, cultural schools, opera venues and other cultural institutions around the city.


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First newsletter issue

6 partners from 5 different countries

joining forces to stimulate a collaborative approach between project partners and their local welfare system

Read more in the first newsletter issue


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PERFARE – Performing arts to promote social welfARE access in Europe promotes social inclusion for those audience groups that are marginalized due to psychological and/or physical health issues and/or because belonging to minorities, through the fruition of cultural activities and performing arts initiatives and while engaging in intercultural dialogue.

Getting to know best practices in cultural welfare - Field visit Italy

What is cultural welfare?

Which cultural welfare practices exist already on a European level?

How do we fill the existing gaps that may prevent its correct implementation in the areas involved by PerFare?

These are the three questions that set the start of our project.

To answer the first, we can use the definition provided by Cultural Welfare Centre:

"Cultural Welfare is an integrated model for the promotion of well-being and health of individuals and communities, through practices based on the visual and performing arts and on cultural heritage."

Therefore, when we speak about cultural welfare we refer to the capacity of cultural use and participation to be enabling and crucial factors in the promotion of health, in the strengthening of care relationships and in the fight against social inequalities.

Having answered that, the second step is to recognize those practices that are already implementing such approach. In fact, following the project's objectives, these good practices will be mapped and further capitalized, in order to not just learn from them, but also operate in those gaps where they haven't yet.

To do so, a peer-to-peer capacity building among Perfare partners is necessary.
And the best way to do so, is to start with field visits of the local realities in the partnering countries.

On 20th and 21st October, the first study visit was hosted by Consorzio Marche Spettacolo in Ancona, Italy.
During these days, PERFARE partners had the occasion to meet face to face for the first time and to start reflecting on the upcoming steps, finding common ground and setting internal deadlines for their duties.

Moreover, it was an occasion to inspire their future collaborations with the welfare sector. The Ancona study visit has, in fact, grouped a few presentations of good local practices and relevant experiences that combine culture and well-being, by the following guest speakers:


The partners also had the chance to visit one of the best cultural welfare examples in Ancona: Museo Omero, National Tactile Museum. Here, they could explore art by using touch instead of eyes, emulating the experience of visually-impaired audiences, to whom the museum is addressed.

This is just the beginning, stay in touch to know more!

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A new project on cultural welfare is coming to town!

June 2022 has set the start of a new European cooperation project.

PERFARE - Performing arts to promote social welfARE access in Europe is a small scale cooperation project co-funded by the Creative Europe programme, born thanks to the partnership formed by Consorzio Marche Spettacolo (lead partner) and Welcome APS from Italy, Pro Progressione from Hungary, Artemrede from Portugal, the Foundation AltArt from Romania and the City Archive "Culture for Elderly" of the City of Malmo from Sweden. 

PERFARE promotes social inclusion for those audience groups that are marginalized due to psychological and/or physical health issues and/or because belonging to minorities, through the fruition of cultural activities and performing arts initiatives and while engaging in intercultural dialogue

The project, which will last a total of 36 months, has the following specific objectives:

  1. To innovate the partners’ organizations creative models in order to make Welfare services (i.e. health and wellbeing) an integral part of their artistic work;
  2. To facilitate the access to performing art experiences for audience groups with psychological and/or physical health conditions by systemising collaboration opportunities among cultural-creative actors and the Welfare Sector.


PERFARE’s initial phase aims at mapping those good practices in cultural welfare that already exist in the partner countries. 

Then, the training phase begins and all the partners - a multi-level consortium composed by creative and cultural organizations coming from Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Romania and Sweden - together with actors of the welfare system in their countries/territories, will be firstly involved in a capacity building process to foster their ability to work and cooperate with the actors of their local Welfare systems. 

During this period, they will: 

  • search and further map (i.e. through an interactive tool) success stories of such cooperation;
  • share knowledge and capitalize tools that are already developed;
  • participate in a tour of field visits across Europe to gain direct experience on how performing arts interventions can improve Welfare services for people with physical and/or mental health issues;
  • set up a cooperation scheme with one or more stakeholders of its Welfare system. 


As a result, 5 calls for action will be launched to fund artists and their innovative ideas, in order to involve audience groups composed of local vulnerable populations with health conditions. The resulting pilot actions will be implemented in the partner territories and evaluated to measure their impact.


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