A report by the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Cultural Value Project was launched recently in the House of Commons, highlighting the life-enhancing impact of arts and cultural organisations on health and well-being in their local communities.
Research into the impacts of Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Creative Foundation in Folkestone and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea found that despite the intuitive feeling that arts and cultural activities are connected to feeling good, that part of the work of arts and cultural organisations often remains hidden.
The report found that the three organisations involved were making significant contributions to health and well-being in their respective communities, but without prioritising it as a driver of their work or evaluating its effects.
"They change someone’s life and they don’t even realise," said Des Crilley, Chair of Kent County Council’s Strategic Group for Arts in Kent.
Speaking at the report's launch in the House of Commons, Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Peter Bazalgette said, “Fifty percent of local authorities are considering deploying health budget in the arts ... it’s about the intrinsic value of the arts first, but to blind yourself to what the benefits are is ludicrous.”
At the launch both Sir Peter Bazalgette and the Shadow Culture Minister, Helen Goodman MP, called for the health and social benefits of the arts to be systematised, with appropriate funding and measurement tools put in place.
Launch sponsor, Damian Collins MP, said “Just being together and doing things together is good for people.”