Art consumption and well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic


Art consumption and well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic

How do arts contribute to people’s well-being during the COVID 19 pandemic?

Current circumstances alter almost everything we know about our way of living, interacting and working. All these directly impact our health and well-being
Our research aimed to find out if art, whether it’s a good movie or a book, a virtual tour of an online exhibition or a performing arts show, contributed to people’s well-being during the COVID 19 pandemic
In May-July 2020 we asked people throughout Europe about what is their connection with art during the pandemic, how they felt and how they managed their emotions. Here are a few takeaways from what they’ve shared with us.
One online survey
In 8 languages
(Romanian, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, Slovenian and Hungarian)

more than 20 countries involved in the study

Research timeline

Arts & Well-Being

People’s feelings during the pandemic

The most visible aspect was the increase in negative states such as being afraid and upset
Negative feelings both before and during the pandemic were on a higher level for people working in culture compared to those working in other fields.

Art as a coping activity

During the pandemic, what are the activities that you do in order to cope with your feelings?
Facts: People turn to arts in order to cope with their feelings
85.18%Consuming different types of art
69.60%Having social contacts
54.20%Doing physical activities
40.92%Doing creative activities
23.48%Doing meditation

The contribution of arts and culture to well-being in the first months of the pandemic

We considered all the ways in which various individuals may access cultural goods and experiences:

receptive cultural participation (listening to music, watching movies, attending theatre performances, etc.)


creative cultural activities or active cultural participation(singing, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, etc.)

64.21% of the subjects declare that art makes them feel better
41.89% claim that art helps them experience beauty, awe, transcendence
38.17% say that art makes them reflect on their lives

Receptive cultural participation

The most frequent activities people engaged in during the pandemic were:
(1) listening to music
(2) watching films
(3) reading literature
The receptive cultural participation / art consumption increased during pandemic:
45% of the subjects accessed art less often before than during the pandemic
32% of the subjects accessed art with the same frequency during the pandemic as before the pandemic
Receptive participation in the arts (visual arts, theatre, dance, architecture & heritage) during the pandemic was significantly correlated to a decrease in negative feelings . Those who access art often tend to have lower Negative Affect scores than those with low art consumption.

Well-being benefits perceived by respondents


(self reflection perspective, appreciation of life, imagining futures, memory)

Feelings/ Improved mood

(getting into a desired mood, hope, guidance through difficulties)

Social connection

(belonging, understanding others, longing for connection)

Aesthetic / Transcendence

(experience of awe, beauty, transcendence)
visual arts

Art and emotions during the pandemic

Hope Positive Joy Encouraged Nostalgia Sadness Interested
Visual arts
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Emotions experienced during the pandemic while engaged in cultural activities

Active cultural participation

The most frequent activities people engaged in during the pandemic are:
46% of the respondents were less often involved in creative activities before the pandemic
30% of them engaged in creative activities with the same frequency during and before the pandemic
People working in the cultural field do more creative activities than people who are working in other fields and people who are not working.
Creative activities’ frequency during the pandemic:
69% of the respondents were doing creative activities daily or a few times a week (2-3 times per week)
15% of the respondents didn’t perform any creative activities during the pandemic
The most frequent activities performed during the pandemic were writing poems, small texts and essays, drawing/painting, and photography.
18.09%No creative activities
14.75%Playing a musical instrument
11.48%Computer generated art

active cultural participation is correlated with Positive Affect

creative processes derive positive moods and emotions

Well-being benefits perceived by respondents

Active cultural participation (singing, playing a musical instrument, dancing, drawing/painting, photography, video, computer generated art, writing, crafts) during the pandemic is
significantly correlated with Positive Affect

Those who are doing creative activities often (daily, a few times a week, weekly) tend to have higher Positive Affect scores than those who do such activities rarely (occasionally, never)
People who are engaged in active cultural participation during the pandemic tend to derive significance/meaning , improved moods and social connections from these creative processes.

Art connection

69.5% of the respondents rated their connection with arts as meaningful and very meaningful
People working in the cultural field are doing more creative activities than people who are working in other fields and people who are not working.
brings significance to their life (81.8%)
improves their mood (61.54%)
helps them connect with others (59.32%)
enables experiences of awe and beauty (41.16%)
They also tend to have higher Positive Affect scores than those who feel less connected to the arts.


How people describe their experiences with culture during the pandemic
56% of the respondents reported they had a particular connection with an artwork during the pandemic
The states of well-being designated as prevalent turn out to be ”joy/happiness”, ”relaxation”, and ”positive mood”
“Happy, stressless, calm, satisfied, fulfilled”
“Relajada, entretenida, calmada, inspirada, serena”
“Rilassato, tranquillo, attento, concentrato, calmo”
The participants indicated a cathartic significance of the experience
“Película, poema: emoción, catarsis”
“Animata, viva, trasportata, catarsi , svuoto”
A sense of inadequacy and frustration experienced during creative or cultural performance/activity
“Angry, Depressed, Isolated”
“Entretenida, frustrada, impotente, triste, desanimada”
“Nove volte su dieci è frustrante. Ci vuole determinazione e poi ti senti motivata e sorpresa”
Participants reflect on the current situation and feel the need for a greater connection/empathy with others
“Libro, Ensayo sobre la ceguera, tristeza por el paralelismo con la situación actual”
“In the beginning of the pandemic, I ordered online an art book with reproductions of Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Studying them again brought me feelings of calm, introspection, reassurance of safety in relation to unknown dangers, but also the comforted sense that we have been through this before”
“Reading and literature made me feel less lonely”
“Viscolul lui Vladimir Sorokin m-a obligat la introspecție acută, căci fascinația miraculosului și a transformării pe care o produce asupra firii umane este un punct de plecare în conștientizarea malformațiilor sociale”



take time to enjoy art in your life
share your favorite artworks with your friends and family
consider enrolling in an arts course, joining a choir and engaging regularly in creative activities
when in distress, search for professional medical and/or psychological support


be aware of the possible influence of your art on the well-being of audiences
create art for the well-being of individuals and communities
actively engage people in co-creation
collaborate with scientists and health professionals


develop cultural well-being guidelines for cities and regions, in order to mobilize local stakeholders to facilitate and support beneficial social change
make arts accessible to everyone, irrespectively of social and economic status
launch cultural well-being education programs in schools to enhance resilience in uncertain circumstances
strengthen collaboration ties between the culture, social care and health sectors
support artistic creation and innovative collaborations between cultural, academic and health institutions to promote individual and collective well-being in the medium-long term, as part of a societal strategy to improve human resilience

Cultural institutions

include the well-being dimension in your organizational vision and in your strategy to produce social change
encourage and support artists to produce art for health and well-being, to explore how individuals connect to their artistic artwork
share knowledge and practice of arts interventions found to be effective to improve individual health and well-being
gather evidence on the impact of your work on the well-being of your audiences
increase collaborations around well-being with artists, scientists, health institutions and public authorities
develop inspiring programmes to promote cultural participation with the view to contribute to people’s resilience and well-being
The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Research published by: ©Cluj Cultural Centre, 2020