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Health Promotion and the Arts

John McNeil LaneJohn McNeil Lane

John McNeil Lane has worked full time as a practitioner of community arts and cultural development for the past 37 years. His professional career began in 1977, and for ten years he worked full time as a performer with community-based theatre companies in Brisbane, Albury-Wodonga and Melbourne, and then freelance. Having given up the study of Medicine to pursue a theatrical career at the age of 21, John returned to the health sector 23 years later, when he started working for the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, bringing together artists, teachers and health workers to build the capacity of communities to promote social, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Along the way John has worked as a juggler, actor, clown, acrobat, ukulele teacher, theatre & event director, production manager, submission-writer, scriptwriter, stilt-walker, AFL Grand Final Parade Director, drama & music workshop facilitator, and as the tap-dancing trumpeter in the Fabulous Essendon Policewomen's Marching Band.

After working as the Moomba Street Parade Director from 1993-1995, John formed PEP Productions Pty Ltd as a vehicle for the creation of significant public events. Contracts included: festival direction for City of Darebin (Darebin Festival, Music Feast, Festival of Kites), City of Moreland Autumn Planting Festival, Kew Festival Parade; performance projects for City of Melbourne (Summer Fun, Melbourne City Christmas Concert) & arena entertainment for the Royal Melbourne Show.

In 2000, John first worked for the Royal Children's Hospital Mental Health Service as the inaugural Artistic Coordinator of the Festival for Healthy Living program. Following four years of part time contract work for the RCH, the position of FHL Statewide Artistic Coordinator was created with recurrent funding from DHS Mental Health Branch, in recognition that the FHL program was ready to embark upon a roll-out across all regions of Victoria. The work has included establishment of local project Steering Committees based on partnership development with stakeholders from education, health, arts, and community sectors, and the professional development of teams of local artists in Loddon-Mallee, Wimmera, Grampians, Barwon, North-East, Cathedral Ranges and Gippsland regions, and throughout metropolitan Melbourne in projects ranging from Werribee to the Yarra Ranges to the Mornington Peninsula.

In 2014, John is happy to say that he still plays the ukulele a lot.

The Festival for Healthy Living...A Sixteen-Year Journey towards Wellbeing

Charting the course of the development from 1998-2014 of the Festival for Healthy Living program, implemented in over 135 schools in 35 communities in Victoria. Focus on growth of partnership model of universal mental health promotion, involving health, arts, education and community sectors. Includes key findings from action research and independent evaluation studies; featuring multimedia highlights from milestone projects, with performances and personal stories from participants.