Participatory Arts for Well-Being: Past and Present Practices

Start Date: January 2011
End Date: January 2012
Principal Investigator: Dr Jane Milling
Co-Investigator: Kerrie Schaefer

What is Well-Being? It has variously been defined in relation to health, happiness, and the environment. Most commentators suggest that well-being is primarily about the quality of connections to one's friends, family, local environment, nation, and communities, that is, it is a social quality. How do participatory arts create and sustain social, and thus community, well-being? The Arts Council of England established that 'active participation in the arts can have a significant impact on the wider determinants of health such as improving living environments, increasing educational attainment and building social capital.' (The Arts, Health and Well-Being). These findings resonate with '5 ways to wellbeing' recommended by the New Economics Foundation (2008) and with recent NICE guidelines stressing the importance of group activity in alleviating mental health difficulties. The project aims to explore the contribution of participatory arts to community well-being through analytical studies of flagship participatory community arts practices, past and present. A series of three network meetings will bring together academics, community arts practitioners and organisations, policymakers, and health professionals to examine and define well-being and to explore the role of participatory arts.

Project Report by Josie Billington, Hamish Fyfe, Jane Milling, Kerrie Schaefer
Connected Communities - Participatory Arts and Well-Being