The healing arts

rb&hArts logo rb&hArts brings the benefits of the arts to patients and staff, and the local communities surrounding our hospitals. 

Delivered with funding from the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity, rb&hArts delivers a long-term creative programme to increase wellbeing, enhance patients' experiences and improve the healthcare environment. 

In a typical year, rb&hArts runs 250 workshops in craft, music and visual arts, engaging 5,000 participants, and employing 30 artists. 

Enhancing the patient experience

Music is particularly effective in healthcare settings, with evidence to support its efficacy in reducing pain and anxiety during the post-operative period1

Live and participatory music making

Since January 2018, Adrian Garratt and Stac have played to inpatients at both hospitals, taking requests and providing moments of light relief for patients, families, visitors and staff. 

Vocal Beats

Vocal Beats is an innovative music project for hospitalised young people from infancy to 16 years. It offers a range of personalised activities including bedside singing and vocal coaching, music tech, lyric writing, recording and beatboxing. In 2017/18, we provided 48 beatboxing workshops and 108 music-making/singing workshops. Evaluation showed that the project increased levels of happiness, relaxation and confidence in young people. 

"The music sessions break the monotony of ward life."

Patient feedback


Verity Standen, an internationally renowned contemporary composer, was invited to create a new vocal composition to raise awareness of singing for lung health, which was performed in and around the hospital over three days. More than 30 people took part, entertaining patients as well as members of the public in local parks and transport hubs. 

"Lovely, uplifting and energising."

Audience feedback on Airborne


Crafternoons brings artists, volunteers and patients together to learn creative skills. Through creating and making together, conversations and relationships of trust emerge, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Learning new skills builds confidence and self-esteem, and increases resilience. 

"Made the stay in hospital more enjoyable, less stressful and an opportunity to be creative."

Patient feedback

Improving health outcomes through active arts participation

Many people with long-term health conditions can develop mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety2Participation in the arts has shown to have a positive impact on health outcomes, wellbeing and quality of life3rb&hArts offers participatory activities to patients to increase self-management, reduce isolation and improve wellbeing. 

Akademi and DanceWell

DanceWell is a three-year Big Lottery funded project by Akademi to improve levels of physical and mental health in older adults. In 2017/18, Akademi ran 12 workshops, teaching Kathak (a South Asian dance style) which was then performed to an audience of family and friends. Of those that attended, 65 per cent classified themselves as having a disability or some limitation to their movement, and 95 per cent of participants were aged 65 or over. 

Singing for Breathing

Singing for Breathing workshop Singing for Breathing is a weekly vocal coaching and singing workshop programme to support older adults living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The workshops help participants better manage their symptoms, offering advice on breath control and management. In 2017/18, the arts team ran 97 workshops. 

My singing each week has given me much confidence and helped my breathing control."

Singing for Breathing participant

Visual arts

High-quality visual art and design is integral to positive, welcoming and healing environments. Evidence suggests its use in healthcare settings can alleviate anxiety, as well as making a more enjoyable environment for staff. 

Permanent collection

Will Clarke mural The arts team manages a collection of more than 1,000 works of art across both hospitals, comprising paintings, prints, photography, drawings, textiles, site-specific commissions, sculpture and new media work. 

The collection will be audited over the next three years to ensure all pieces are well cared for and accessible, with a view to finding new ways to use them to engage with patients and staff. 

Bespoke commissions

Professor Anita Simonds, consultant in respiratory and sleep medicine, invited artist Steven Appleby (who decorated the sleep centre in 2016) to create a mural for a corridor in Royal Brompton's respiratory wing. Appleby created a colourful dreamscape to welcome patients and new artworks for the bedrooms. 

Artist and cystic fibrosis patient Kate Hughes presented the body of work she created during a 'virtual' residency with the Trust - Message in a Bottle - which included drawings, animations and an interactive installation in Royal Brompton's Fulham Wing, which invited visitors to leave their own message in a bottle. 

1Hole, J et al. 'Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis', The Lancet, 2015'386:1659-71.

2Creative arts as a public health resource: moving from practice-based research to evidence-based practice' (Clift), Perspectives in Public Health, 2012;132:120-7.

3 Long-term conditions and mental health: The cost of co-morbidities, Kings Fund, 2012.  

< Our charities

Our profile in the media >