Professional Development

Helium Arts’ Professional Development Programme offers training and support to artists and healthcare staff who would like to engage in arts and health practice.

Professional development, mentorship and providing collaborative opportunities for artists are central to Helium’s work. Our CPD programme has included REFLECT Lab, bringing together artists and healthcare professionals working with children in the Northwest to share skills and experience, artist mentoring programmes, seminars and workshops. Videos and documentation from some of these initiatives can be viewed below.

Art and Design Strategies in Healthcare 

Helium Arts, in partnership with Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts, hosted this seminar in Dublin and Cork in 2014 with guest speakers Jackie Sands (Arts and Health Improvement Senior with the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde) and Vicky Charnock (Arts Coordinator at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool). The seminar focused on the importance of early integration and planning strategies in the design of new healthcare facilities. Presentations from the day can be viewed here.


In 2011, Helium launched Ireland’s first REFLECT Lab in the Northwest, bringing together artists and healthcare workers working with children to share skills and experience over a yearlong engagement. REFLECT Lab was supported by the Arts Council of Ireland Local Partnership Scheme with Sligo County Council Arts Services, HSE West (Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal), Letterkenny General Hospital, and Sligo General Hospital. REFLECT Lab is a model of cross-sector co-mentoring devised and delivered by The Sage Gateshead, UK.

Creative Connections

Creative Connections, a 2-day professional development programme in the area of arts, health and early years was held in 2012, with a line-up of speakers and artists from around Europe contributing. Ruth Churchill Dower, Director of Earlyarts UK, and Catherine Maguire, President of the Irish Association for Infant Mental Health, spoke at the seminar. Artist workshops were led by Kate Wilson (Visual Artist, Ireland), Hannah Lefeuvre (Community Dance Artist, UK), Anna Rosenfelder (Children´s Theatre Artist, Facilitator, Germany) and Ger Relph (Musician, Ireland). Creative Connections was hosted by Helium in association with Westmeath County Council Arts Office and supported by The Arts Council. Documentation from the day can be viewed here.

Stories and Music for Children in Hospital: Talk and Workshop

In spring 2012, Helium, in partnership with Waterford Healing Arts Trust, organised a talk and workshop with artists Caoimhe Conlon (musician) and Fiona Dowling (storyteller) at the WHAT Centre for Arts & Health, Waterford Regional Hospital. Caoimhe and Fiona talked about their collaboration on Scales & Tales – a Helium storytelling and music residency for children at Cork University Hospital – and reflected on their learnings and methods. They then facilitated a workshop based on their devised approach. Documentation from the day can be viewed here.

Artist Mentoring Programme at Barretstown Camp 

Helium partnered with Kildare County Council Arts Office in 2012 to provide training, mentoring and support to artists engaged in an exciting creative programme at Barretstown Camp. Fourteen artists joined activity leaders at Barretstown to learn about their model of working with children with serious illnesses and their families. These artists were invited to develop their own participatory arts projects during the summer and autumn camps. To coincide with this opportunity, Helium came on board for three training days, to assist artists to reflect on this learning experience and facilitate peer-learning, training and mentoring.
Kildare mentoring programme








Puppet Portal Symposium

‘Where are we now?’ a symposium examining arts for children in hospital within the context of the Puppet Portal Project, was hosted by Helium, in collaboration with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, at The Ark, Dublin, in 2011. Perspectives on the project were given by Helene Hugel of Helium, Paula Hicks of the Centre for Health Informatics, TCD, and Mary O’Connor of Children in Hospital Ireland. Sally Maidment and Una Jordan co-presented from the perspectives of an artist and a healthcare professional working together and artist Siobhán Clancy reflected on her personal experiences of collaboration in the hospital environment. Artists who took part in the Puppet Portal Project gave workshops on the day and an exhibition showcasing the project took place in the downstairs theatre. Martin Drury, Arts Director at the Arts Council, chaired the panel discussion. Documentation from the day can be viewed here.

For the Best: Seminar with Mark Storor

Helium in partnership with the Science Gallery, Dublin, presented a seminar with award-winning theatre maker Mark Storor (UK) in 2010, chaired by Tony Fegan, Director of Tallaght Community Arts, and Dr. Emma Curtis, Medical Director of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and a practicing paediatrician at the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght. This talk and discussion incorporated Mark’s experiences, methods, and skills in building relationships and understanding between artists/arts practitioners and hospital/medical staff, as well as maintaining authentic engagement and dialogue with paediatric patients.

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