As Manchester gears up to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Health Service (NHS), a special one-off performance, “Our National Health Stories Live,” is set to take centre stage at Aviva Studios on Thursday, November 23, 2023.
This unique event, organised by NHS Arts in Hospital Network and funded by Arts Council England and NHS Charities Together, brings together the voices and talents of NHS staff from across England.
The performance promises to be an extraordinary blend of music, poetry, dance, and more, all created by thousands of NHS staff who have participated in a nationwide creative program.
Honouring Manchester’s Historical Role
Manchester holds a special place in the history of the NHS, as it was home to the first NHS hospital, originally known as Park Hospital and now renamed Trafford General Hospital.
On July 5, 1948, the NHS was officially launched, and Trafford General Hospital played a pivotal role as the inaugural NHS hospital, providing healthcare services to the public.
“Our National Health Stories Live” serves as a poignant reminder of this historic milestone, highlighting the city’s significant contribution to the establishment of the NHS.
A Day of Nationwide Celebrations
Before the main event in Manchester, a day-long, nationwide relay of performances by NHS staff is set to take place on November 23, 2023.
These performances will be held live in hospitals across England and streamed online. It’s a testament to the unity and creativity of NHS staff, who have come together to express their experiences and the significance of their work in healthcare.
The Main Event – “Our National Health Stories Live”
The live performance at Aviva Studios will feature NHS staff from all over England, along with a professional cast and musicians.
Each NHS trust will share its unique stories through poetry, music, dance, and more, captivating the live audience in Manchester and those watching the live stream on ournhstories.org.uk.
The creative team has provided a framework for these stories, with new writing by acclaimed playwright Chris Bush and specially composed music by Ruth Chan.
Our National Health Stories Live
Kwame Kwei-Armah, the Artistic Director of the event, expresses the significance of “Our National Health Stories Live”.
“It’s a moment for us all to come together to support the people who support us when it matters.
“There are so many contributions I can’t wait to share – a trolley ballet created by the porters of Addenbrokes hospital; a choir from Derby & Burton that have learned about themselves and each other through singing together; choreography from University Hospital Leicester created by medical students and patients.
“We have beautiful new music by Ruth Chan and words from Chris Bush that capture the characters and experiences that we’ve encountered.”
“Our National Health Stories Live” is not only a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the NHS but also a tribute to the remarkable dedication of NHS staff across the country.
Arts Council England
Rebecca Blackman, Director, Audiences & Engagement at Arts Council England said: “We are proud to support this innovative project celebrating 75 years of the NHS with Arts Council National Lottery funding.
“Our National Health Stories will support thousands of NHS workers to express and develop their creativity, and to tell their stories in new and impactful ways under the brilliant artistic leadership of Kwame Kwei Armah.
“We are grateful to the Network for Arts in Hospitals and all the partners involved in making this exciting programme a reality.
“There is increasing evidence that creativity and culture can play a key role in improving physical and mental health. It can be profoundly fulfilling and a source of inspiration and delight, helping us to make sense of ourselves and each other. Creativity and culture can provoke and uplift us, unite communities and bring us joy.
“We’re delighted that people from every level across the trusts involved will have the opportunity to see and hear their stories reflected and we are looking forward to seeing the benefit that this project will bring to people’s lives.’
On the evening of Thursday 23 November NHS staff from all over England will be onstage at Aviva Studios with a professional cast and musicians, plus faces from across the NHS.
Each trust will be sharing its story – through poetry, music, dance and more -with the live audience in Manchester, plus audiences around the country via live stream here
The creative team are providing a framework for these stories with new writing from award-winning Sheffield playwright Chris Bush (Standing at the Sky’s Edge) and specially composed music by Ruth Chan.
This performance follows a day-long, nationwide relay of performances by NHS staff on hospital sites, which will be streamed online from noon on 23 November.
Our National Health Stories has been initiated by the National Arts in Hospital Network, a group of NHS arts managers who develop arts and cultural programmes to support staff and patient wellbeing in hospitals.
It builds on the incredible work already being undertaken within the 19 participating Trusts.
The project is funded by Arts Council England and NHS Charities Together in partnership with NHS England. It has been made possible through the support and funding of the 19 participating NHS Trusts and their hospital charities.
As the city comes together to honour the past and celebrate the present, the performance promises to be a powerful expression of gratitude and solidarity toward the healthcare heroes who have been the backbone of the NHS for 75 years.
This event is a testament to Manchester’s legacy in the healthcare sector, with its pioneering role in the birth of the NHS.
This event is completely free to attend – you can find out more here