Social benefits of culture

Volume: 17 Issue: 1

In this issue: Four reports examining the social benefits of the arts, culture, and heritage, including three Canadian literature reviews and an American study of the relationship between artistic activities and well-being.

ARM_vol17_no1.pdf347.32 KB


  • 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.