healthpitch: a Davina’s Fund project

Led by Camilla Vickers

We influence thinking and practice on the roles that creative arts can play in mental health and emotional wellbeing.

We inspire conversation and galvanise action at every step. Our unconventional use of opera in musical theatre to tell our stories has been unique and successful. We bridge the disconnect between the creative and healthcare worlds and help to persuade forward thinking leaders and stakeholders to take notice of how creative engagement can help mental and emotional wellbeing and help health systems under enormous and unsustainable pressures.

We do this with our talented, remunerated singers, through our ‘wow’ productions, interactive workshops and online courses that reach and connect ‘everyone together in the room’, including those whose lives and minds can be the hardest to reach – and those who care for them. Many of whom have limited/no access to the arts and are unfamiliar with the operatic voice.

What we have done so far:
Our first performance and a drive in a 1974 cinquecento from Italy to England raised £11,150 for a local hospice in Wiltshire.

We then toured health and social care facilities including, inter alia, acute mental health wards, hospices, community centres, specialised dementia units, nursing homes, brain as well as spinal rehabilitation facilities, and  meet ups for those partially sighted, with 6 Characters in Search of An Opera, written by Rachel Barnett and directed by Helen Eastman: the first ever “little opera” written specially for care settings, a story that was accessible, relevant, interactive, intimate and fun, that was easy to set up and which could be performed in virtually any space.

After this success, which was beyond our expectations, we created our next production, The Audition, which continues to be enthusiastically received in all sorts of unusual locations!

Early in the pandemic, our team went to incredible lengths to self-film and produce The Soprano, followed by Still Singing, an online 2-part series for our health and social partners and the people in their care, all going through unprecedented times. We also created Finding Your Voice, led by our skilled singers, an intimate and interactive online course for those struggling emotionally, which we now also deliver through popular face-to-face workshops that focus on self-care, increasingly of interest to a broad spectrum of employers.

We have reached over 5 000 people in over 60 diverse health, social care and isolated community settings as well as the public, and online during the pandemic. We deliver workshops at health and social care conferences and academic groups, to NHS Mental Health Services practitioners, staff and peer-support workers, and we have been approached by a large housing association to bring our work to their senior living, mental health, young people and women facilities.

Built up from a foundational legacy along with generous donations from individuals and increasingly from a range of successful grants, such as the Arts Council and The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, as well as through popular events with corporate partners who both support us reaching those in need, and want their staff, and society in general, to benefit from these unique experiences too.

Background (in Camilla’s words)
Health:Pitch stems directly from Davina Vickers’s terminal illness and my time as a daughter and a former healthcare professional, caring for her.

I worked as an intensive care physiotherapist (neonatal to geriatric) in Cape Town and treated people suffering from congenital heart defects, head injuries, heart transplants, car accidents, gunshot wounds and so on. Creative arts and expression did not register one iota.

For more information or to book a performance see: https://www.healthpitch.org