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The Art of being Healthy & Well

Host & Panellists

min read

Host & Panellists

min read


Host & Panellists

June 22nd 10:00AM to June 22nd 2:00PM including lunch | Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street, Dublin 2

The Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Creative Ireland Programme), the Health Service Executive and the Arts Council are co-hosting a national symposium – The Art of being Healthy and Well. The symposium will consider policy in relation to the effective use of creativity and arts in support of health and wellbeing while showcasing good practices and reflecting on learning to date.

The symposium is an opportunity to:

  • consider the evidence base regarding the health benefits of participation in the creative arts;
  • discuss arts and health activities in hospitals and community care settings that can deliver better health outcomes for patients, service users and their carers; and
  • explore the operational role of the arts, cultural and creative sectors in delivering healthcare and wellbeing.

The in-person audience will be composed of policy makers and practitioners in the health and creativity sectors, offering opportunities for discussion and exchange of information.

A light lunch will be served.

Host & Panellists

Olivia O’Leary

Olivia O’Leary is a journalist, writer and current affairs presenter. In the late 1970s she began working for The Irish Times as parliamentary sketchwriter. In 1972 she joined RTÉ as a current affairs presenter and later worked as a presenter on Today Tonight and Questions and Answers. She became the first regular female senior presenter of the BBC’s current affairs programme, Newsnight and also presented First Tuesday, a monthly documentary strand produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV. O’Leary won three Jacob’s Awards during her broadcasting career with RTÉ. Her first came in 1973 for her work as a radio news reporter. In 1982, she won her second Jacob’s Award for her hosting of Today Tonight. Her chairing of Questions and Answers brought her a third award in 1986. She has also won a Sony Award for her BBC Radio 4 programme Between Ourselves.

She has co-authored the book Mary Robinson: The Authorised Biography, with Dr. Helen Burke, and in 2004 wrote Politicians and Other Animals, a sketch on Irish politics.

She was Chairperson of the Office of the Ombudsman’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

Olivia is now the presenter of RTÉ’s The Poetry Programme.


Alexandra Coulter

Alexandra Coulter is Director of the UK National Centre for Creative Health which launched in March 2021. It was established in response to Recommendation 1 in the Creative Health report, which was published in 2017 following a two-year inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG). Alex has provided the secretariat for the APPG since 2015 and project managed the inquiry. She is also the part-time Director of Arts & Health South West (AHSW), a regional learning, advocacy, networking and development organisation. AHSW delivered the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference (online) in June 2021 which was attended by over 500 people from 30 countries.


Tom James

Tom James is the head of the Health and Wellbeing Programme and Healthy Ireland in the Department of Health. The Healthy Ireland team has policy responsibility for physical activity, nutrition, obesity, sexual health, place based wellbeing (healthy clubs, campuses, workplaces) and addressing health inequalities. Tom previously worked in the Revenue Commissioners where he held a number of senior operational leadership roles and chaired Revenue’s National Wellbeing Network.  Tom holds a Master’s in Policy Analysis from the Institute of Public Administration, a Post Graduate Certificate in Workplace Wellness from Trinity College, a BA (Hons) in Applied Taxation from the University of Limerick and a BSc in Computer Applications from Dublin City University.


Tania Banotti

Tania Banotti is Director of the Creative Ireland Programme since 2018. This is an all of government programme with creativity and its connection to wellbeing at its core. Previous roles include as Chief Executive of the Institute for Advertising Practitioners in Ireland and Chief Executive of Theatre Forum Ireland.


Professor Rose Anne Kenny

Professor Rose Anne Kenny MD, FRCPI, FRCP FRCPE, FTCD, FESC, MRIA holds the Chair of Medical Gerontology and is Head of the academic department of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin. She is director of a new state of the art clinical-research institute for ageing at St James Hospital-MISA, and founding Principal Investigator of Ireland’s largest adult population study on the experience of ageing in Ireland – TILDA – The Irish Longitudinal study on Ageing, now in its 12th year of data collection. She has co-authored over 500 scientific publications and received many awards for her work. Age Proof: the new science of living a longer and healthier life is her latest book, published in 2022.


Dr. Mike O’ Connor

Dr. Mike O’ Connor is a Consultant Geriatrician working at the Cork University Hospital and St Finbarr’s Hospital since 2001. He graduated from UCC in 1991 and completed his higher medical training in Geriatric Medicine and General Medicine in Ireland and London. He was Clinical Director for Medicine at CUH from 2013 to 2019. His interests include Quality Improvement, Health Services reform, value based healthcare, Patient Safety and Medical Education.

In September 2021, Dr O’ Connor took up the post of National Clinical Advisor and group Lead for Acute Operations. This role involves providing clinical advice and guidance to all aspects of acute hospital care including serious incident management, Quality and Safety and Process Improvement. He leads on 16 clinical programmes whose remit is to design models of care and patient pathways that are evidence-based, quality assured, feasible and pragmatic and to support their implementation within an effective governance arrangement.”

Eilísh Hardiman

Eilísh Hardiman is Chief Executive since 2013 of Children’s Health Ireland (previously the Children’s Hospital Group). Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) is the body legally established in January 2019 to govern and manage children’s healthcare services in its four service locations in Dublin at Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Connolly Hospital, as a single entity in partnership with multiple academic institutions to provide integrated paediatric healthcare services, education, research and innovation.

Annually, CHI treats and cares for over 334,500 children and adolescents through its 4,000 staff. Children are 25% of the Irish population and CHI provides all their national paediatric specialty needs with some on an all-island basis, as well as, all secondary paediatric care for the population in the
Greater Dublin Area.

Eilísh has over 30 years acute academic teaching hospital experience, 20 of which at senior corporate management level in several roles, including three Chief Executive posts, a Deputy CEO/Chief Operations Officer post and Director of Nursing. She has been directly involved in progressing the
transformation and development of paediatric healthcare since 2006, when the policy decision was first made to develop a single national children’s hospital central to an integrated network of paediatric services in Ireland. CHI are client to the new national children’s hospital, a €1.7bn project,
the largest capital investment in the state that is currently under construction on the campus shared with St James’s Hospital.

Eilísh has an Executive MBA from Smurfit School of Business and as her professional background is in nursing, has several academic and professional nursing qualifications. She is also a Trustee of the Children’s Health Foundation since 2020.


Nathalie Weadick

Nathalie Weadick is a curator of architecture and spatial practice based in Dublin. She has been the Director of the Irish Architecture Foundation since 2007. Through the IAF she has delivered many initiatives exploring the impact of architecture on society, culture, and history. Under her directorship, the IAF initiated the development of a national program of community led design projects called Reimagine, established the National Architects in Schools Initiative and produced Open House Dublin, Ireland’s largest architecture festival engaging thousands annually.

From 2013 to 2023 Weadick curated with Arup New Now Next a series of talks in Dublin with international speakers and topics on housing, the circular economy and climate change. Since 2007 she has curated and/or produced exhibitions about Irish architecture at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, VISUAL Carlow, Solstice Arts Centre, Limerick City Gallery, The Glucksman, RIBA Gallery and Tallinn Architecture Biennale. From 2004 to 2007 she held the position of Deputy Director at The Architecture Foundation in London where she worked on Debate London at Tate Modern in 2007. Formerly, she was Director of the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny for five years, where she curated shows by international artists.

In 2017 she received an Honorary Fellowship from the RIBA. She is currently researching a PhD at RMIT Melbourne and Queens University Belfast, Schools of Architecture.


Maureen Kennelly

Maureen Kennelly is Director of the Arts Council. She was director of Poetry Ireland from 2013 until April 2020. She was previously director of Kilkenny Arts Festival, artistic director of the Mermaid Arts Centre, general manager with Fishamble Theatre Company, and she also worked with Druid Theatre Company, the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, The Arts Council and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. On a freelance basis, she worked with a wide range of organisations including Theatre Forum, Sing Ireland, the Performance Corporation and Age & Opportunity. She was Primary Curator with the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival and Programme Director with the Cúirt International Festival of Literature.

She was a member of the judging panel for the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for 2002 and 2006 and she chaired this panel in 2003. She has been a board member of Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, the Butler Gallery, Barabbas Theatre Company and the Dock Arts Centre.

She was appointed to the Expert Advisory Committee of Culture Ireland in 2013 and she was a member of the governing body of UCC from 2014 to 2018.

Maureen grew up in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, and is a graduate of NUI Galway and of UCD.


Yvonne O’Neill

Yvonne O’Neill is a very experienced and motivated leader with over 30 years in health and social care services across the HSE. In these years, her roles have spanned strategic and service planning, performance management, improvement and change, as well as operational oversight of service delivery.

Fulfilling these roles has involved strong relationships within and across organisational boundaries clinical, operational and management, to support service delivery and improvement in partnership with service users and the public. Yvonne has led and managed high profile and challenging change and innovation underpinned by a context and person-centred approach. This was done through values driven leadership, a results focus and supporting colleagues to fulfil their potential. Working flexibly in complex systems with competing priorities and appropriate risk management/mitigation, while maximising adherence to the range of resource controls and driving value, have been core parallel responsibilities over these years. Currently as National Director of Community Operations, she has responsibility and accountability for the delegated delivery of consistent and safe community based health and social care services nationally led with her national community operations team and the nine Chief Officers.

Yvonne has a keen interest in leadership, organisational development and mentoring/coaching.  Outside of work, she is always happy to be on the sideline of Camogie matches supporting the Celbridge Club and Kildare County team endeavours, hill-walking anywhere that isn’t too steep or getting to live music and theatre.


Justine Foster

Justine Foster spent several years working as a visual artist in a public and community context in UK and Ireland. She is currently Programme Manager at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, where she works to create opportunity for artists to work and the public engage in the Arts. In this role, she has developed numerous collaborative projects with an emphasis on forging local, regional, and national partnerships. In 2002, she initiated an Arts for Health Partnership Programme with the HSE, Cork Education & Training Board and Cork County Council which she continues to manage. Justine is a member of Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland.


10.00am – 10.05am              Opening musical performance

10.05am – 10.15am               Opening address

10.15am – 10.45am               Panel discussion: The Case for Improving Health through Arts and Creativity

10.45am – 10.50am              Video: Case Study 1

10.50am – 11.30am              Panel discussion: Integrating Medicine with Arts and Creativity

11.30am – 11.40am              Panel closing remarks

11.40am – 11.45am              Break

11.45am – 11.50am              Video: Case Study 2

11.50am – 12.30pm             Panel discussion: Arts and Creativity as a Strategy for Community Wellbeing

12.30pm – 12.40pm            Conference Closing Remarks

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