The Arts Promote Health and Healing

Research has provided strong evidence that the arts improve the health and wellbeing of both individuals and communities, and promote individual and community healing following traumatic experiences.

Those who attend and participate in arts and cultural events are more likely to be physically active and engaged in their communities. A Statistics Canada Study found that 51% of performing arts attendees participated in at least one sporting activity, compared to 32% of non-attendees.

Research by the Canada West Foundation indicates that cultural activity contributes to the health and well being of citizens, improved community identity and social cohesion, community revitalization and the redevelopment of inner cities.

In a Roundtable on Music and Medicine hosted by the National Arts Centre, Louise T. Blouin MacBain, the chair of the Louise T. Blouin Foundation, whose mandate is to promote creativity and support research, said that music can help stroke victims to walk, terminal patients to relax, mothers to give birth, troubled teens to learn social skills, students to study, Alzheimer’s patients to remember, and unborn children to respond to the environment around them.

The arts are most effective where the largest costs on the health care and social systems occur – for seniors, the disabled, and youth at risk. Older citizens experience strong positive impacts on their outlook on life, cognitive functioning, physical comfort, quality of life, and general health from involvement with the arts.

Research from the California Arts Council shows the value of the arts to the fields of health and social services, demonstrated by how the arts contribute to brain development, healing, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, rehabilitating prisoners, and saving youth-at-risk.

Presentation to the British Columbia Government
September 2007