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Wellbeing analysis makes stronger case for the arts

12th September 2014

A focus on wellbeing would lead funders to place a greater emphasis on participatory arts, says Parliamentary report.

Following a year-long inquiry, a cross-party group of MPs has concluded that investment in arts and culture, mindfulness in health and education, a focus on stable jobs rather than growth and more green spaces in our cities are all key to improving wellbeing. Wellbeing in four policy areas, a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics, concludes that the DCMS and the arts sector more generally should use ‘wellbeing analysis’ to make a better case for public spending on the arts and culture, as this approach is better able to “value nonmarket goods, and goods which we value for reasons that have little to do with the market.”

Published by thinktank the New Economics Foundation, which provided the secretariat to the group, the report also notes that wellbeing analysis provides a valuable alternative to “assessment based on instrumental benefits on the one hand, and ‘art for art’s sake’ on the other… [and] is therefore a particularly useful tool for assessing public subsidy of arts and culture.” It suggests that policy-makers should be using this type of analysis to set arts spending priorities that target those with the lowest levels of wellbeing, especially communities with high deprivation. Such an approach would, the reports says, lead to greater priority being given to participatory arts, rather than purely spectator activities, as evidence suggests that participation is particularly beneficial for wellbeing. In the light of other evidence on the links between the arts and health, the report also recommends that local authorities consider how cultural commissioning might contribute to priorities identified in their health and wellbeing strategies.

Read more on the ArtsProfessional website.