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The Philip Barker Centre for Creative Learning was established in 2016 in response the squeeze on creativity and the arts in formal education and the opportunities for an increasing interest in the use of the arts in health and social care. As a result we take a life course approach in stimulating, supporting and exploring engagement with creativity and the arts. We have an extensive network of collaborators from across arts/culture, education, health, academia and social care sectors. Explore our collaborators here.

We are named after the Philip Barker Charity, which supports the advancement of education and health of people of all ages. The Philip Barker Charity has a long tradition of supporting initiatives in the North West of England and we are extremely grateful to the Trustees for their continued guidance, advice, support and encouragement.


Owens, A., Pässilä, A., Ponsillo, N., Biagioli, M., & Cunningham, C. (2022). Towards Transprofessionalism: Artists in Higher Education. In T. Chemi & A. Neilson (Eds.), Community and Collective Learning (pp. 11-32).  Aalborg, Denmark: Aalborg University Press. Retrieved from

Owens, A., Ponsillo, N., Pässilä, A. (2022). Arts-based methods: The body, the co-creation, the aesthetic participation. In T. Chemi & A. Neilson (Eds.), Community and Collective Learning (pp. 59-62). Aalborg, Denmark: Aalborg University Press.

Ponsillo, N., Clift, S., & Chemi, T. (submitted 2022). Creativity and health: artistic experiences as well-being. Manuscript submitted for publication. In T. Chemi, E. Brattico, L. Overby Fjorback, & L. Harmat (Eds.), Arts and Mindfulness Education for Human Flourishing. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Dowlen, R., Geddes, L., Keady, J., Milligan, C., Ponsillo, N., & Swarbrick, C. (2021). Music in mind: Understanding the ‘in the moment’ musical experiences of people living with dementia in a group setting. In S. Williams & J. Keady (Ed.), Participatory case study work (pp. 175-192). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Dowlen, R., Keady, J., Milligan, C., Swarbrick, C., Ponsillo, N., Geddes, L., & Riley, B. (2021). In the moment with music: An exploration of the embodied and sensory experiences of people living with dementia during improvised music-making. Ageing and Society, 1-23.

Boot, J. & Ponsillo, N. (Eds.). (2020) Creative ageing: What's happening now and what could it mean for us in the future? Psychology of Older People: The FPOP Bulletin, 152. Retrieved from

Ponsillo, N., Boot, J., & Jones, K. (2020). Integrating visual arts into post-diagnostic dementia support groups in Memory Services. Perspectives in Public Health140(5), 252–254.

Gaunt, H. & Ponsillo, N. (2020, September 3). Developing artists for a co-created future. ArtsProfessional. Retrieved from

Fujii, M., Ponsillo, N., Boot, J., Butler, J.P., & Sasaki, H. (2020). Hypothesis of quantum emotional therapy for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases, 6(039). Retrieved from:

Ponsillo, N. (2017). A career path for creative facilitators. ArtsProfessional. Retrieved from

Dowlen, R., Keady, J., Milligan, C., Swarbrick, C., Ponsillo, N., Geddes, L. & Riley, B. (2017). The personal benefits of musicking for people living with dementia: A thematic synthesis of the qualitative literature. Arts & Health, 10(3), 197-212. https://doi:10.1080/17533015.2017.1370718

Campbell, S., Ponsillo, N., Budd, P., & Keady, J. (2017). "Music in mind" and Manchester camerata: An exploratory qualitative evaluation of engagement in one care home in Northwest England. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 18(1), 69-80.