Arts and Health

As pressure on health resources grow, innovative solutions to support community wellbeing are needed.  As a result, the arts-health nexus has received increasing attention from clinicians, researchers, health professionals and policy makers interested in the potential of the arts to positively influence wellbeing; to complement conventional medical treatments; and act as a health promotion setting.

The arts, with its emphasis on self-expression, creativity, happiness, social inclusion and self-understanding, has a unique contribution to make to health. However, the arts-health relationship is not well understood and an evidence-based, quantifiable and scientific approach needed if we are to move the arts-health debate beyond anecdote and opinion. Arts and Health research at the University of Western Australia aims to build on current knowledge and complements the growing multidisciplinary nature of this field.

Good Arts Good Mental Health

In collaboration with multi-sector partners, this project aims to create an evidence based, arts-mental health campaign, dose-response message, programs, and provide multi-sector professional development to positively impact community arts engagement and mental wellbeing.

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What is Art?

‘The Arts’ can be defined by five art forms, and within each art form, by a variety of dynamic and continuously evolving activities and events. Each art form may operate independently, but may also collaborate, communicate and intersect in their arts practice.

The five art forms are the:

  • Performing arts e.g. playing a musical instrument, listening to music, singing, dancing, acting, attending a concert, music lessons, etc,
  • Visual arts, design and craft e.g. drawing, colouring books, jewellery, fashion, ceramics, sculpture, visiting a gallery, attending a painting class, etc,
  • Community and cultural festivals and fairs e.g. participating or attending arts festivals and fairs related to community events, national holidays, religious dates or events of cultural significance, etc.
  • Literature e.g. storytelling, creative writing, reading novels, attending an author reading, etc, and
  • Online, digital and electronic arts – e.g. digital photography, film making, animation, viewing e-concerts, visiting online art galleries, etc.

(adapted from: Davies et al., 2012 ‘Defining arts engagement for population-based health research’, Arts and Health, 4(3), pp.203-216)

What is Arts Engagement?

‘Arts engagement’ is an umbrella term encompassing the various ways in which individuals interact with the arts and creative industries e.g. listening to music, reading novels, watching movies, attending concerts, art classes. Arts engagement is a continuum from active involvement (e.g. performing or making art) to receptive involvement (e.g. attending, listening, viewing art) and occurs within a variety of settings (e.g. the home, schools, community centres, workplaces, hospitals, residential care facilities, etc).

What is Arts and Health?

Arts and Health relates to the idea that arts engagement can be a means of promoting, maintaining and improving health and wellbeing in the general population or specific target groups.