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Research elements of Virtual Art Snacks

Since 2020 we have shared research about the arts & health project Virtual Art Snacks creative frameworks, research methodologies and the evaluation process. We have presented at arts and health conferences, creative research symposiums and forums.

  • Western Health Research Network Symposium (2021-2023) Virtual Art Workshops as a Model of Care: Creative innovations in aged care reduce social isolation and foster diverse rural health networks by Dr. Kate Smith and Christine McMillan.
  • Virtual Art Snacks – workshop by Christine McMillan (2022)
  • CREATE Centre (Creativity in Research, Engaging the Arts and Transforming Education, Health and Wellbeing) at University of Sydney, Symposium. Virtual Art Snacks: Creative Arts and Wellbeing in rural aged-care by Dr. Kate Smith and Christine McMillan
  • Powerhouse Museum (2022) Christine McMillan
  • Arts Health Network NSW/ ACT (2021). Virtual Art Snacks by Christine McMillan and Dr. Kate Smith (2022)
  • Agency for Clinical Innovation – 11th Aged Health Collaborative Forum (2023) Virtual Art Snacks: How creativity positively impacts care for people living with dementia by Dr. Kate Smith

Our partnership with Charles Sturt University led to the evaluation of the program and the publication two pieces of Participatory Action Research (PAR) by Associate Professor John Rae Acting Head of School of Dentistry and Medical Sciences, Charles Sturt University. The  PAR method is a collaborative, cyclical research process with a user-led model – plan, act, observe, reflect that was applied to evaluate the program and the creative frameworks used by the artists to design their workshops. A series of online focus groups were held with residents, artists, health staff and community members during COVID 19 lockdown in 2020-21 and these formed the basis of the evaluation.


Rolling: Research by Dr John Rae, Charles Sturt University

In 2019 aged care residents at Oberon Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) joined an innovative arts in health programme- ‘Rolling With it’- that merged visual art and performance to create collaborative artworks over a five-week period.

In the workshops art materials, including paint, paint rollers, paper, pencils and notebooks, were used to build skills, experiment and problem solve as a way to foster meaningful connections.

Combining visual art and performance practices was a step by step process that facilitated the transformation of artworks into ‘props’ such as balls or rolled-up 2D artworks,that were then used as objects of play. This extension created subtle links between the visual and performing arts practices.

The transformation of art materials into ‘props’ formed the basis of movement workshops; ‘get to know you’ games, and improvisations. Conversation flowed as people rolled, tossed or caught the ball, passed the baton; or challenged a friend to duel. Playful, fun and engaging ‘Rolling With It’ disrupted the idea of what artworks are and how they can be used as tools for meaningful social connection.

The success of the workshops at Oberon MPS continues online through the wider ‘Virtual Art Snacks’ program.

Dr John Rae of the School of Biomedical Sciences at Charles Sturt University evaluated ‘Rolling’, and his report forms the basis of new research Art OutWest are conducting into the value of virtual art workshops in rural and regional Multi-purpose Services.

‘Rolling With It’ was part of an ongoing relationship with Oberon MPS. The ‘Art Group’ project of weekly arts activity is supported by volunteers from Oberon Arts Council who have also won an award for this work.

Read the full evaluation by Dr John Rae of the School of Biomedical Sciences at Charles Sturt University


Images on this page: Main – Dr John Rae, Kate Smith, Christine McMillan playing with techniques for the research.

Virtual Art Snacks is a piece of action research, trialing and assessing different creative online experiences, plus six face-to-face residencies.
ROLLING Research by Dr John Rae, Charles Sturt University

Strategic areas: arts and health

Location: Oberon Multi-Purpose Health Service (MPS)

When: Activity: 2019-2020. Research 2020-2021. 

Wider project: Virtual Art Snacks (funded by the Regional Arts Fund Renewal)

Funded by: CSU Community University Partnerships, Mazda Foundation, Oberon Council through Oberon Arts Council

Partnering with: Western NSW Local Health District, Oberon Arts Council

Team for Arts OutWest: Christine McMillan and Kate Smith

With researcher/ artist: Dr John Rae, Charles Sturt University

Header image: Oberon MPS residents in the program. Carolyn Hide/ Cazeil Creative.

It is concluded here that the very thoughtful planning and implementation of Rolling by Arts OutWest, the artists and MPS staff led a productive experience of participating residents of the Oberon MPS, and it hard to imagine that this program would not have enhanced the residents’ lives. – Dr John Rae