Research: Using the arts to boost the nations health

“The implication is clear: we urgently need to explore new ways to promote wellbeing – a theme picked up by John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health in his essay for the Arts Council’s recent publication, Create. He wrote: “Unhealthy people cost the taxpayer much more than investing in the kinds of activities, facilities and public environments that help prevent or ameliorate illness.” As it happens, quietly and with increasing effectiveness, medics and carers, health authorities and local councils alike are turning to the arts as one way to help boost the wellbeing of the nation. This is about prevention rather than cure. And, as ever with the arts and culture, it’s about enriching lives, too.”

“Some are now referring to this development as “social prescribing”. That may sound somewhat clinical. Perhaps the more elevated way to put it is that we should tend to the spirit as well as the body, and the arts can do both…
Of course, there’s nothing new about the deployment of therapeutic remedies. But what is new is the widespread involvement of arts professionals in formal agreements with health authorities.”

“Medicine attends to the body, but the arts cares for the person. It’s clear that the health service now has to put greater resources into prevention. But this is a wholly beneficial imperative. The national and local government spend on arts and culture is around one 50th of the NHS budget. But it’s a small sum that does a lot of good. Not least for health and well being.”

(SIR PETER BAZALGETTE – chair, Arts Council, England)


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