Arts Research Monitor articles, category = Social benefits of the arts

This study examines “whether music training is associated with higher-level reading abilities such as reading comprehension” in 46 “normal-achieving” children between six and nine years of age. The study finds that “length of music training predicted reading comprehension performance even after controlling for age, socioeconomic status, auditory perception, full scale IQ, the number of hours that children spent reading per week, and word decoding skills”. Unlike previous research, the study did not find a correlation between music training and word decoding skills.

This comparative international report attempts to contribute to a fuller understanding of social and economic development by “measuring the things that really matter to people – their basic needs, their food, shelter and security; their access to healthcare, education, and a healthy environment; their opportunity to improve their lives”. The Social Progress Index includes 12 equally-weighted components within three key dimensions: “basic human needs”, “foundations of wellbeing”, and “opportunity”. The Index captures a total of 52 non-economic indicators but none related to the arts and culture.

Arguing that key economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product have “failed to capture many of the factors that influence people's lives”, this comparative international report attempts to provide “a better understanding of what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done to achieve greater progress for all”. The index is comprised of 24 indicators within 11 dimensions. Only one of the indicators includes cultural elements.

29 (3), 379-391, January 2010

The authors of this article argue that, despite increasing attention to creative cities and cultural planning, “knowledge about what works at various urban and regional scales is sorely lacking”. The authors highlight the relative lack of research “evaluating the efficacy of specific cultural strategies” designed to improve local cultural development.

University of Waterloo, October 2012

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) aims to deliver “a measure that provides a broader depth of understanding that, when partnered with [Gross Domestic Product], gives citizens and decision-makers a more comprehensive package of information they need to assess our progress as a society and make decisions based on evidence for a fair and sustainable future”. The CIW tracks sixty-four indicators related to eight domains, including “leisure and culture”.

(2007, 7:226)

Based on a survey of 1,244 American adults, this research article finds that there is “significant association between cultural activities and self-reported health (SRH)”, even controlling for demographic factors.

Connections between Cultural Activities and Health, Volunteering, Satisfaction with Life, and Other Social Indicators in 2010

Based on Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey of 2010, an in-depth telephone survey of about 7,500 Canadians 15 years of age or older, this report examines the connections between cultural activities and eight social indicators. A key finding of the report is that participants in 18 cultural activities have significantly better results than non-participants for 101 out of 144 cross-tabulations with social indicators. Cultural participants have significantly worse results for only 10 of the cross-tabulations.

The Value of Presenting: A Study of Arts Presentation in Canada

In addition to providing a profile of performing arts presenters and summarizing research into arts attendance in Canada, this report examines potential benefits of the arts, including impacts on the quality of life, well-being, social engagement, health, education, and communities.

Based on a survey of 1,001 Canadians 18 or older in June and July of 2012, this report examines Canadians’ attendance and personal involvement in the arts, culture, and heritage, as well as their perceptions regarding cultural activities and government support of culture.

Value of Presenting Study
The bulk of this presentation provides information about key demographic trends in Canada: a growing and aging population, differences in average age by location, increased immigration from Asian countries, and an increasing Aboriginal population. The report compares census data with attendance data to see whether different age groups are over or under-represented among performing arts audiences. The presentation indicates that classical music and theatre audiences skew older than the overall population, while popular music skews younger. The presentation also provides information about perceived benefits of the performing arts.