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The value of arts and culture to people and society: An evidence review

Key Message

The arts and culture sector provides economic, social, health and wellbeing, and education benefits to society.


Mowlah, Andrew et al. (2014). TThe value of arts and culture to people and society: An evidence review. Manchester, UK: Arts Council England.


This main objectives of this review were to:

  • Assess the strength of the evidence base between 2010–13 about the economic, social, health and wellbeing, education, lifelong learning and environmental impacts and outcomes of arts and culture in England
  • Assess the evidence base about what works, and among whom and in what circumstances to create value for the arts and culture in England
  • Assess the methodologies and approaches adopted for evidencing the instrumental impact of art and culture
  • Assess the evidence base in relation to the Arts Council’s five goals
  • Identify the gaps and weaknesses in the current evidence base to inform the Arts Council’s future research programme, which will in turn shape future policy in the arts and cultural sector


Arts and culture boost local economies in five key ways: attracting visitors; creating jobs and developing skills; attracting and
retaining businesses revitalising places; and developing talent.

In health and wellbeing, a number of studies have reported findings of applied arts and cultural interventions and measured their positive impact on specific health conditions which include dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease. The use of art, when delivered effectively, has the power to facilitate social interaction as well as enabling those in receipt of social care to pursue creative interests. The review highlights the benefits of dance for reducing loneliness and alleviating depression and anxiety among people in social care environments.

In terms of effects on society, there is strong evidence that participation in the arts can contribute to community cohesion, reduce social exclusion and isolation, and/or make communities feel safer and stronger.

In the education system, taking part in structured music activities improves attainment in maths, early language acquisition and early literacy. Schools that integrate arts across the curriculum in the US have shown consistently higher average reading and mathematics scores compared to similar schools that do not. Participation in structured arts activities increases cognitive abilities. Students from low income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree than children from low income families do not engage in arts activities at school.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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