Social and health benefits of the arts

Volume: 13 Issue: 3

In this issue: Three Canadian studies and one Scottish report related to the social and health benefits of the arts, including a Toronto report on neighbourhood-based community development through the arts, a Vancouver study of the arts and seniors’ well-being, an overview of the potential impacts of documentary films on social change, and a Scottish study of the connection between cultural engagement and health and well-being.

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Articles

  • A Study of Three Toronto Neighbourhoods

    Based on a two-year research process, this study attempted to “gain a better understanding of how residents engage with the arts at a community level, explore barriers to arts access, and identify ways to strengthen local arts engagement”. The study’s 17 researchers made “300 connections” including interviews, focus groups, and surveys with 191 “residents, artists, arts groups and social service organizations” in three Toronto neighbourhoods: Malvern, St. James Town, and Weston Mount Dennis.

  • A Three Year Exploration of the Relationship between Arts and Health

    Based on qualitative and quantitative evaluations, this report examined the relationship between the arts and well-being among 51 Vancouver seniors who participated in the arts in four community centres. The long-term goal of the project was to “contribute to the development of strong, healthy communities that engage seniors as full and active participants and that value the arts as a key contributor to health”.

  • Based on five case studies of Canadian and American documentary films, this report argued that documentaries, “coupled with a well-executed social impact strategy, can have substantial impact on social change”. However, the report also acknowledged that “social change involves good luck, good timing, traction of ideas in the broader culture and more than a little magic and zeitgeist.”

  • This brief Scottish report highlighted the statistical relationship between cultural attendance, active participation in culture or sports, and health and life satisfaction based on findings from the 2010/11 Scottish Household Survey, which interviewed nearly 10,000 Scottish adults. The report found that, even after controlling for demographic and other factors, “participation in culture and sport are independently and significantly associated with good health and high life satisfaction”.