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

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 Canadians (including substantial samples of youth and Indigenous residents), this report highlights information about arts and heritage attendance, personal arts participation, as well as perceptions of cultural activities and government arts support. The report concludes that there is “robust public engagement with arts and culture in Canada”.

This review article, a work in progress from an American cultural research group, evaluates and summarizes evidence regarding the benefits of the arts for individuals. The researchers examine research evidence in four categories: physical and mental health; education and personal development; economic vitality; and social cohesion. While the researchers recognize that existing research is not definitive, they do conclude that “arts participation really does improve lives”.

This report summarizes the findings of 70 specially-commissioned research studies regarding the value of culture in the United Kingdom – “the difference to individuals, society and the economy that engagement with arts and culture makes”. Working outwards from the individual experience of culture, the report outlines many components of cultural value.

A study to quantify the relationship between recreational arts engagement and mental well-being in the general population

Based on a survey of 702 adults in Western Australia, this article shows that people who had high arts engagement (i.e., at least 100 hours per year) reported better mental health than people who participated less frequently or not at all, even after adjusting for other potential factors in mental health.

An Overview of Current Neuroscience Research

This document provides a useful summary of recent neuroscience research on the impacts of music on mental health and well-being. The report indicates that “neuroscientists are demonstrating that there is a causal connection between music study and cognitive growth”.

Reviewing 400 research reports related to the neurochemistry of music, this article indicates that there is “promising, yet preliminary” evidence that music has positive effects on “(i) reward, motivation, and pleasure; (ii) stress and arousal; (iii) immunity; and (iv) social affiliation”.

Fifteen reports on “how engagement in the arts – as an audience member and/or practitioner – affects our physical and psychological health over time” are examined in this detailed review article, which concludes that “engagement in the arts is generally shown to have a positive impact upon the body’s physiology, in turn improving health and quality of life”.

Presentation hosted by Arts Health Network Canada and CH-NET Works! (a project of the Canadian Health Human Resources Network at the University of Ottawa)

This presentation muses as to whether the arts could be a part of a “prescription for health”, in addition to a healthy diet, physical activity, proper health care, and good sleeping habits. The presentation provides a brief review of studies of arts engagement and well-being, and delves into the findings from the 2013 study The Arts and Individual Well-being in Canada.

This brief report highlights the fact that cultural practices are important for “the wellness, health, and healing of Aboriginal peoples and communities”. The report indicates that the arts may have particular importance for Aboriginal Peoples in many ways.

This English review of “academically-robust research and influential policy papers from the past twenty years” examines two streams of research about the value and impact of cultural experiences: “1) how individuals benefit from attending and participating in cultural programmes and activities; and 2) the creative capacities of arts and cultural organisations to bring forth impactful programmes”. The report concludes that “while individual experiences are the building blocks of the value system, the literature agrees that cumulative impacts – the effects of a lifetime of involvement in arts and culture – are the fuel for larger societal outcomes”.