Ieva Petkutė

Picture: Kirsi Karppinen

Ieva Petkutė, Global Brain Health Institute

Professional path/background in Arts, health and wellbeing, main points of your personal journey?

Since my young age I have had a privilege to be surrounded by arts and culture by living in the capital city of Vilnius in Lithuania. In the meantime also, through the story of my family, from the first hand I could experience what exclusion, isolation and lack of access in the society really means. Studies in the Academy of Fine arts in Vilnius and in the Institute of European Studies in Paris 8 – Vincennes (France) has made me question what the arts and culture are for? Why only some people feel confident to come to cultural spaces? Where do the barriers of engaging with arts lie – are they within the people who don’t engage or are they within the society that surrounds them? What can be done in how arts and creative practices are developed, introduced, presented, disseminated so that it could become more relevant and accessible for more and more diverse people.

Your experiences in Arts, health and wellbeing in practical level?

I have been implementing arts for health and well-being projects for nearly ten years, working with diverse audience groups – people with diverse abilities and coming from diverse pathways in life. Dance, visual arts, theatre, creative writing, music, etc. – a range of arts practices have found a place in environments, where I had a privilege to work and collaborate with people who have experienced homelessness, poverty, people living with dementia, their carers, professional health care and social care staff, people who are neurodiverse.
This experience have grown my appreciation for the potential for the arts for health as a process that can meaningfully contribute to everyone’s lives.

What do you want to achieve in Arts in Health, what are your main goals?

Our main goals in the ARTHEWE project is to develop and pilot learning modality “Arts and Well-being for Personal and Professional Growth”. In this work, by applying arts based approaches in teaching and training, we aspire to create a more well-being supportive training environment and to equip Atlantic Fellows with skills to take better care of themselves both in personal and in professional life.
The Atlantic Fellows engage in challenging equity-based advocacy work globally. While we often focus on supporting the brain health of our communities, we too frequently overlook the need to support the health and well-being of ourselves so that we can stay productive, engaged, and thriving as fellows.
We hope to support GBHI in building connection within the cohort and integrating well-being skills into the learning experience to give space for fellows develop stronger bonds with each other, meanwhile also to explore the emotional impacts of their work on themselves, gain awareness of their own emotional responses, and to develop skills to help navigate those responses, especially under stress.
As we look to embed this work into the learning experience, we will explore how to use creativity to support relationship development, to gain emotional awareness; to increase body awareness; and to develop and learn skills to take better care of yourself.
The aim of the programme is to implement a set of arts-based and arts-informed actions to support fellows’ well-being and community development. Objectives include:
• Define the multimodality of “well-being” in the context and culture of the GBHI.
• Explore content and practices that could expand and extend existing notions of well-being within the GBHI.
• Explore practices to support fellows’ well-being and community development.
• Develop a programme “Arts and Well-being for Personal and Professional Growth”, which applies both arts-based and arts-informed approaches.
• Pilot the programme (develop an evaluation framework to evaluate the programme; pilot the programme; evaluate the programme – collect participants feedback).
• Revise and finalize the programme.

What are the artistic approaches in GBHI actions?

The Atlantic Fellows who have been onboarding the “Equity in Brain Health” programme from all around the world and have grown the community during the 6 years of it’s life have a possibility to contribute to the continuous growth of the programme.
I completed the programme one year ago and our participation in the ARTHEWE project linked with those efforts to support continuous growth.

How big part/role Arts in Health has in GBHI practices?

We are piloting approaches are either arts-based or arts informed. These approaches have a shared aim to support authentic relationships among the Atlantic Fellows and help to develop skills that could be applier both in professional and personal lives of the young leaders in brain health.
Arts-based approaches are framed by the life story work, led by Senior Fellow Karin Diamond. Through the process of creating and sharing personal stories, the Atlantic Fellows are encouraged to on-board the journey to explore their own stories, deepen their self-knowledge and connect with their peers through sharing. Since the Atlantic Fellows come from very diverse cultural, professional backgrounds and situations in life, the process of sharing is meaningful as it is inviting participants to step into other’s shoes, to explore different perspectives and experiences.
Arts-informed approaches, developed and implemented by Senior Fellows dr. Anne Browning and me, Ieva Petkutė, are focused on exploring the range of aspects within the exploration of equity-centred growth mind-set that shapes how we respond to failures, setbacks, stress; and takes into account learners’ histories, experiences, access to resources, and lives outside of the fellowship.

Main Goals of GBHI?

The Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program at GBHI provides innovative training, networking, and support to emerging leaders focused on improving brain health and reducing the impact of dementia in their local communities and on a global scale. It is one of seven global Atlantic Fellows programs to advance fairer, healthier, and more inclusive societies.
Overall the Atlantic Institute aims to amply the influence and impact of the global Atlantic Community of change-making Fellows and programs through providing resources and opportunities to connect, learn and act together. The Institute promotes collaboration and shared approaches, connects the Atlantic Fellows program community to a broader network of equity-oriented initiatives, and raises global awareness of the work of Fellows and their programs.
The Global Brain Health Institute is hosted by the Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and the University of California in San Francisco (US).

What is the connection between arts for health organisation “Socialiniai meno projektai” in Lithuania and ARTHEWE?

Me, Ieva Petkutė, as a Senior Fellow and a team member on behalf of the Trinity College Dublin/The Global Brain Health Institute, am originally from Lithuania, where I am leading a pioneering arts for health organization NGO “Socialiniai meno projektai”. The NGO is working cross-disciplinarily aiming to promote social change in the process of developing partnerships, advocating for the access to arts for all. The “Socialiniai meno projektai” is a change maker in the sense that it is leading cross-disciplinary partnerships that have a vision to creating meaningful systemic changes. Experience in thinking interdisciplinary is a core asset that experience in arts for health grants.
While in Lithuania it helped to build up a consortium of partners to start a national initiative “Towards a Dementia Strategy”, which aims not only to promote the need of a national dementia strategy in Lithuania, but also the importance to address holistically the questions related to brain health, the quality of life and the needs of people living with dementia and their carers; in the Global Brain Health Institute experience in arts for health has helped to draw together efforts to pilot modalities for more inclusive and well-being supportive learning ant teaching environment.

What are the special competences that you and the organizations you represent brings to ARTHEWE?

The team within the Trinity College Dublin / The Global Brain Health Institute team have competences in arts for health (developing and implementing these practices), its evaluation, and accessible arts practice delivery. There are also competences in creative well-being supportive learning-teaching environment. Our team considers creativity, arts and well-being as closely connected.

Expectations, what kind of benefits could ARTHEWE project bring to your organization?
I hope that the ARTHEWE project will meaningfully contribute to the programme by stressing the aspects of well-being, self-care, community development as meaningful in the learning and teaching environment.
Since our IOs are developed so that they would be implemented online, we also envision that the project results will enrich online learning experience. The TCD team is also hoping that the ARTHEWE initiative will support the wider GBHI community development by not only involving Senior Fellows to inform it’s programme, but also through engagement with the learners and showing an example of what the collaboration among the Senior Fellows could look like and how transformative it can be.