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‘Beyond the Body’ artworks on display at University of Cape Town.
credit: Anna Suwalowska

The potential for the research community to collaborate with art and artists has been demonstrated across numerous projects, exhibitions and events throughout the world of academia. Whether it is new plays inspired by the latest research, visual art produced alongside empirical work, a new video game to support young people’s mental health or music created to explore new technology; artistic mediums offer highly fertile environments for researchers to explore their own work and find ways of communication and collaborating with various publics.

Theorists have long recognised the role of art in promoting reflection on society’s critical ethical issues. Arts engagement offers the opportunity to engage emotionally and imaginatively with different scenarios and ways of living, inspiring reflection and awareness. Recently there has also been a growing focus on understanding how art itself improves health, quality of life, prosocial behaviour and community cohesion. This has led to a burgeoning area of investigation into these subjects and a greater interest in using arts based methods and interventions within research projects.

This is no less true amongst the teams at the WEH, where a critical mass has formed to promote, support and develop this work and the connected ethical considerations. This work aligns with our public engagement strategy, which seeks to involve artists and arts collectives as recognised key stakeholder groups for the WEH.

The AHEC is an open collective for researchers and students affiliated with the WEH and meets monthly during term time to:

  • Share project ideas
  • Manage and create opportunities for researchers to collaborate with artists
  • Engage with ongoing public health discussions about the role of art in advancing health and wellbeing
  • Devise ways of communicating this type of work to the wider research community

For more info or to get involved please email .

In 2024 AHEC funded seven projects - find out more.

Download details of the AHEC Seed Fund Call.

mission/vision statement

Across initial sessions and workshops the collective co-created our mission/vision statement.

The AHEC seeks to increase moments of exchange between arts communities and researchers. To foster, enrich and diversify engagement on mutually nourishing projects that create dialogues across the most pressing issues facing societies.

The AHEC has the following goals:
- To provide WEH researchers with training and mentorship to integrate arts into their research projects
- To provide a platform to connect creative practitioners and researchers to foster interdisciplinary collaboration
- To engage and involve the public with research through arts-based methods
- To co-create research and arts outputs with creative practitioners and the public
- To reflect on and critically consider the ethics of arts-based methods and interventions and the role of the arts in advancing wellbeing