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

This literature review, which examines English-language publications since 2000 related to the non-economic effects of culture, found that there is “a deluge of recent literature citing the (usually positive) impacts of engagement with the arts and, to a lesser extent, heritage”.

This report “aims to summarize research in the areas of theory, evidence, measurement frameworks and indicators” of the social benefits of culture. The review found “wide evidence of positive effects of arts and culture in society” but a lack of “consensus on how to measure the results”.

This brief report focuses on a few studies related to the social and economic benefits of cultural engagement. The review found that “people benefit in multiple ways when there is a vibrant arts and culture base in their community and that taking part or engaging in arts and cultural activities1 has certain positive effects on individual well-being”.

The report indicates that there is “strong support that artistic practice is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction, a more positive self image, less anxiety about change, a more tolerant and open approach to diverse others, and, in some cases, less focus on materialistic values and the acquisition of goods”. For the most part, the findings relate to amateur rather than professional arts practice.

Primarily based on a survey of over 7,500 Australians 15 and older (as well as similar surveys in 2009 and 2013), this report outlines key data on Australians’ arts participation, recognition of the value of the arts, and attitudes toward the arts. A key finding of the report is that 98% of Australians engaged with the arts in some way in 2016.

This international literature review attempts “to better understand whether research has shown that arts experiences of any kind – whether conventional audience experiences or newer “engagement” experiences, learning in the arts, or making art itself – affect civic engagement”. A key finding of the report is that “correlations between arts participation and the motivations and practices of civic engagement are substantial and consistent.” However, “the effects of the arts are likely to be cumulative over significant time and difficult to document: a slow drip rather than a sudden eruption, and easy to take for granted”.

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”.

An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America

Based on an online survey of 3,020 American adults in December 2015, this report summarizes responses to a series of questions about arts engagement, education, government funding, and the benefits to individuals and communities.

(Les arts et la culture au Québec : Portrait de la perception des Québécois)

Based on an online survey of 1,410 Quebec residents (18 and older) in September 2015, this report highlights the public’s perceptions of artists, their role in society, impacts of the cultural sector, and the governmental role in supporting culture. In general, 77% of respondents believe that the arts and culture are important to them. Annual arts participation rates are 78% for cinemas, 71% for the performing arts, and 49% for museums.

This report presents the results of a random telephone survey of 1,004 Ontario residents (18 and older) in early March 2017, bearing a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their perceptions of the arts in Ontario, with specific questions regarding the quality of life, well-being, identity, belonging, and public arts funding. A vast majority of Ontarians believe that the arts are somewhat or very important to their own lives (85%) and to life in their community (90%).