Inner Space

Inner Space
Health and Well-Being
Survey-style laboratory

Inner Space is an interdisciplinary project that explores and promotes the potential of culture to improve health and well-being. Artists, scientists, health and psychology experts work together to raise awareness on the dangers that today threaten our emotional, mental and physical health. Cluj Cultural Centre (CCC) explores how art and cultural participation contribute to the well-being of the city’s inhabitants. The project develops a Culture and Well-being Think Tank, hosts an annual international forum and pilots design and artistic interventions to be scaled up in order to enhance individual and community health and well-being.

The project is developed on the centre's WEAST model of Social Change: Wonder (research, documentation) - Explore (prototype) - Act (pilot intervention/test prototype) - Share (revise the model to include learning) – Trust (Transfer the solution, scale up/replicate the prototype).

While Inner Space is the name of the Cluj-based project, its actions were implemented through the Art and Well-being (AWE) cooperation project co-funded by EU - Creative Europe, led by Cluj Cultural Centre (RO). Partners: BOZAR - Centre for Fine Arts (BE), UGM - Maribor City Art Gallery (Sl), BKF - Bruno Kessler Foundation (IT)

On the dimension of culture for health and well-being, CCC was actively involved within the CultureForHealthinitiative, a project that responds to the objectives of the Preparatory Action – Bottom-Up Policy Development for Culture & Well-being in the EU. CCC coordinated the CultureForHealth report, an important step towards compiling policy guidelines on how to enhance well-being through culture, coordinated a mapping process to collect in an online directory relevant examples of programmes, initiatives and projects on culture, well-being and health and piloted a group singing for maternal mental health intervention. CultureForHealth is a project co-funded by the European Commission with partners all over Europe, consisting of Culture Action Europe, Trans Europe Halles, Central Denmark Region, The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture, Centrul Cultural Clujean, and Društvo Asociacija.

Main results and impacts produced by the initiative on the selected MESOC crossover themes

  • Three research reports - CultureForHealth Report. Culture’s contribution to health and well-being. A report on evidence and policy recommendations for Europe; insights on cultural consumption patterns during Covid 19 pandemic and impact on well-being, measures of impact of specific intervention on people with burnout
  • Piloting of artistic interventions accompanied by documentation and/or impact assessment - various formats and various audiences - eg workshops for people with burnout, a group singing for maternal mental health, vouchers for general public to increase well-being through cultural access, art installations to increase awareness on and improve well-being, workshop to encourage self-expression through music for adolescents, two pilots projects to design spaces for arts and well-being - in a local hospital, in a local school, etc
  • All projects and interventions include multidisciplinary teams - artists/cultural workers, researchers, urban planners, psychologists, health professionals
  • A series or conversations among artists, scientists, health professionals and local authorities - through forums, workshops, Think Tank
  • Support for local cultural workers' mental health through coaching sessions
  • The main focus of the project is to transfer the lessons of the pilot projects to local policies or replicable actions (eg. the burnout pilot project will serve as a base for a policy proposal of social/cultural prescriptions, the group singing for maternal mental health will be replicated in the city of Cluj and in other areas, the art and well-being space piloted in one school will be replicated in other schools by the Municipality, a guide for urban design for well-being was developed based on the experience of pilot projects)
  • Part of two European cooperation project (AWE - Creative Europe project and CultureForHealth project), cooperation with relevant institutions at European level, such as  World Health Organization, Culture Action Europe, Nordic Dimension Partnership on Culture, Trans Europe Halles, Central Denmark Region.

Other relevant impacts

  • The topic was been brought into discussion since 2016 and had a gradual build up in the local professional and decision-making circles on the subject or art and well-being
  • The highly participatory nature of the ECoC bidding process in Cluj-Napoca made the project gather interest, a number of stakeholders mobilized
  • The multi-disciplinary partnership
  • The commitment of the Cluj Cultural Centre to mobilize culture for local development and social change
  • The increase in mental health challenges (also during the pandemic) gave the subject urgency

Elements that contributed to the generation of these impacts

  • active vs passive participation
  • social interaction vs single use
  • one time vs repeated participation
  • collaboration with other disciplines (sociology, urbanism etc)
  • co-creation, co-design
  • process vs product
  • collaborative practices
  • facilitation, mediation, education components /accompanying the experience
  • free vs paid content/participation