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

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) looks beyond the key national economic indicator (Gross Domestic Product, or GDP) to attempt to measure “those areas of our lives that we care about the most, like education, health, the environment, and the relationships we have with others”. The health of leisure and culture is estimated using eight indicators, five of which relate to the arts, culture, and heritage.

This series of research projects included three primary research endeavours: 1) a comparison of the finances of 19 B.C. arts, culture, and heritage organizations with 38 “peer” organizations in other provinces; 2) analysis of a province-wide survey of arts, culture, and heritage organizations; and 3) a summary of 14 qualitative interviews “related to human resources, community engagement and impacts, diversity, the entrepreneurial nature of B.C. arts organizations, and the nature of success for different groups”.

Canada Dance Mapping Study

Based on a survey of 367 dance companies, training schools, presenters, and service organizations, this report “aims to provide new knowledge and a more nuanced understanding of the social impact of dance organizations in Canada”. The report defines social impact to include “the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of individuals and communities”.

A Social Return on Investment Analysis

Using a social return on investment framework, this report assesses the impacts of the $1.9 billion in public and private investment in over 1,400 Illinois not-for-profit organizations working in the arts and culture. The headline finding is that “every dollar invested into the Illinois nonprofit arts and culture field generates an estimated $27 in socio-economic value”. Two similar studies from Australia examined the social returns of a community arts project in Western Australia that tries to connect Aboriginal youth with their language and culture and a program offering film workshops for youth.

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.

This report examines perceptions of the arts and community attractiveness based on surveys of 500 Ontario-based skilled workers and 508 Ontario-based businesses with more than 20 employees. Among skilled workers, 65% of survey respondents were in agreement that “a thriving arts cultural scene is something I would look for when considering moving to a new community” (31% agree + 34% somewhat agree). Similarly, 64% of businesses agreed that “a thriving arts cultural scene is something that makes it (would make it) easier to attract to talent to the community” (35% agree + 29% somewhat agree).

Key elements, effective strategies & why it's worth pursuing

This report, based on a literature review, over 40 expert interviews, and two international focus group sessions, aims to provide a “roadmap” for the development of music, especially the commercial music sector, in municipalities of any size, anywhere in the world. The report outlines five essential elements of “music cities”:

  • The presence of “artists and musicians;
  • A thriving music scene;
  • Access to spaces and places;
  • A receptive and engaged audience; and
  • Record labels and other music-related businesses”.
A Synthesis of Literature and Expert Interviews

This literature review, originally created as part of a California arts participation study, explores how people participate in the arts, who participates, where participation happens, as well as motivations and barriers to participation.

Based on the 2012 U.S. General Social Survey, this report provides a detailed examination of the motivations of arts attendees (the 54% of Americans who attended at least one exhibition or performance during the previous year) and the barriers facing “interested non-attendees” (the 13% who did not attend a visual or performing arts event during the previous year but wanted to go to at least one exhibition or live performance).

Understanding How Participation in Arts and Culture Can Affect our Values

Taking the form of a core essay and a number of critical responses, the report attempts to start “a dialogue about how arts and culture impact on our values”, including “deep values” such as “self-acceptance, affiliation, community feeling, freedom, creativity, self-respect, equality, [and] unity with nature”.