Considering the second-order health effects of arts engagement in relation to cultural policy

Authored by: Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt

The Routledge Handbook of Global Cultural Policy

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138857827
eBook ISBN: 9781315718408
Adobe ISBN:


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In recent decades, there has been increased willingness to consider the social determinants of health in general and the impact of arts engagement in particular. At the same time, the shift towards evidence-based policy-making has been well documented, and the prevailing narrative in certain circles is that we lack evidence around the long-term relationship between health and engagement in arts activities beyond the clinical environment. In March 2014, Arts Council England (ACE) published an evidence review that attempted to account for the value of culture to people and society. While this review referenced large-scale Nordic research showing the positive impact of longitudinal cultural engagement, it ultimately deferred to the UK to conclude that ‘there is no evidence that these improvements are sustained in the long term, and the majority of studies have been small scale and unable to do more than report a correlation between the intervention and these benefits’ (ACE, 2014: 26).

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