Arts in Health and Wellbeing

Arts in Health and Wellbeing

Tonic Arts is our award-winning Arts in Health Programme. In partnership with NHS Lothian, specialist arts organisations and cross-sector partners, Tonic Arts has developed programmes of art and design commissions, art collection provision, changing exhibitions, artist residencies, participatory arts activities and performances across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Established international evidence confirms the role creativity plays within the healthcare context in enriching the healthcare experience for all; saving resources and improving patient experience by reducing the need for pain medication, shortening length of stay, reducing anxiety and depression and improving patient and staff morale.

Here are some of the highlights from our Tonic Arts Programme:

Letters to a Future NHS

“Letters to a Future NHS” was created by NHS Lothian staff as part of our Tonic Arts 360 Visions programme. This short film is centred around a series of letters written by staff from NHS Lothians Equalities Networks exploring what they would say to NHS colleagues 50 years from now.

Watch our amazing staff reading extracts from their letters here: Letters to a Future NHS

My Story Is Your Story

“My Story Is Your Story” shares interviews with NHS Lothian BME staff talking about their experiences during COVID-19, the challenges they faced and the changes they want to see happen. It is part of a series of creative engagements to develop a range of equalities, diversity and inclusion resources in partnership with the Equalities Networks to celebrate the diversity of NHS Lothian. Watch the interviews on our Vimeo Channel.


Common Thread – NHS Voices in A Time of Crisis

Common Thread is a documentary filmmaking project that invited NHS Lothian staff the chance to tell their stories of COVID-19 2020 in a creative and engaging way. Working with PoliFilm Media, a series of nine short films have been created by NHS Lothian staff, including a pharmacist involved in the C-19 vaccine trials, a BSL interpreter, a GP and a staff nurse from the Western General Hospital. Watch these amazing videos on our Vimeo Channel.

Life Under Lockdown

This amazing exhibition brings together Scottish artists across seven generations who created artworks inspired by their observations, experiences, reflections and insights of living through the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The exhibition is currently open to staff and visitors in the Anne Ferguson Gallery at the Western General Hospital, before moving to other NHS Lothian sites. You can also take a virtual walk through and hear the artists talk about their work. 

Art and Therapeutic Design in the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Over 20 projects, involving 30 different artists, were commissioned to enhance the interior and exterior spaces throughout the building, finding innovative and creative ways to improve arrival and wayfinding, enliven the hospital environment and tailor the design of spaces to reduce anxiety. The programme includes bespoke sculpture, illustration, film, animation, furniture and interior design. Read more…

Tonic Tutorials

This series of tutorials been created both by artists with work in our art collection and partners in our Tonic Arts, Arts in Health and Wellbeing programme for you to try at home.

Visit our Vimeo channel to watch our tutorials and try the techniques out for yourself



Our Engagement Programme brings the transformative power of the arts to patients, caregivers and staff in healthcare settings across NHS Lothian. It inspires individuals, helping them to connect and communicate, encouraging them to become more involved and enhancing personal development and wellbeing across NHS Lothian. The Programme encourages creativity, reducing exclusion and assisting social and personal development. Find out more…


We support and manage arts, design and selected greenspace commissioning programmes, developed with patient and staff engagement and collaboration.

Visit our Tonic Arts microsite to find out more about these amazing commissions.



Our exhibitions programme runs across our four main hospital sites – the Western General, St John’s, Royal Edinburgh and the Royal Infirmary – with the Dott Gallery opening this year at the new Royal Hospital for Children & Young People/ Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Little France.

Visit our Tonic Arts microsite to have a look at our featured exhibitions


The Art Collection plays an important role in the improved health and wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors with over 2,750 artworks displayed across over 40 NHS Lothian sites. 

Visit our Tonic Arts microsite to see some of the highlights from our collection.


Visit our dedicated microsite for more information on all the amazing projects that we are supporting: