Social benefits of the arts

Volume: 16 Issue: 3

In this issue: Four perspectives on identifying and measuring social and intrinsic benefits of the arts from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

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Articles

  • Summarizing existing research studies and incorporating new analyses of existing statistical sources, the core argument of this report is that arts “participation builds belonging”, which can be defined as how people connect with others and engage with their communities. The report attempts to provide “compelling data and stories that demonstrate the power of the arts to build a greater sense of belonging to our communities, to our country, and to each other”.

  • This report, “developed by artists with ally evaluators and funders”, identifies and examines 11 characteristics of excellence in artistic work that aims to achieve social goals. “Arts for Change” projects exist “at the intersection of artistic creation and civic engagement, community development, and justice”. The report was prepared to help counter the “assumption that artistic quality is compromised by social intent”.

  • Quality Metrics National Test

    The Quality Metrics National Test attempted to measure the value and impact of 374 events, exhibitions, or performances produced by 150 arts and culture organizations in England between November 2015 and May 2016. The National Test used ratings from surveys of three groups of respondents: 1,358 self-assessments by cultural organization representatives, 921 peer assessments, and 19,800 public responses. Given that public respondents self-selected whether to participate in the survey, there is uncertainty as to whether the respondents provide a representative sample of the overall population of arts-goers in England.

  • This report examines “the relationship between cultural engagement and momentary wellbeing” using a United Kingdom dataset called Mappiness, which collects information from a mobile app that captures people’s ratings of their happiness and relaxation as well as their activities at the time (including certain cultural activities). The authors caution that the dataset “is not fully representative of the UK” and that “causation cannot be directly inferred”.