Réalta is working towards standardising arts and health terminology. The following glossary of arts and health terms is a work in progress.


The Arts Act 2003 defines the arts as any creative or interpretative expression (whether traditional or contemporary) in whatever form, and includes, in particular, visual arts, theatre, literature, music, dance, opera, film, circus and architecture, and includes any medium when used for those purposes.

Arts and health

Arts and Health practice is founded on a principle of equal partnership between the arts and health sectors. It embraces a range of arts practices occurring primarily in healthcare settings, which bring together the skills and priorities of both arts and health professionals. It is characterised by clear artistic vision, goals and outcomes that seek to enhance individual and community health and wellbeing. Improving quality of life and cultural access in healthcare settings is at the heart of arts and health work. (Arts Council Arts & Health Policy & Strategy 2010)

Arts participation

An artist collaborates with individuals or groups within a health or social care setting in the creation of work e.g. artist residencies, participatory music sessions, one-to-one art making by the bedside etc.

Environmental enhancement

Art created for an audience to enjoy or watch, for example architecture, temporary exhibitions, art collections and public art commissions.


The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Receptive arts engagement

Art created for an audience to enjoy or watch, for example: concerts, dance performances, theatre productions and screenings. Initiatives can range from once-off events to long-term programmes.