In recent years, there has been a major increase in evidence on the impact of the arts on health and well-being. This research was carried out in 2020 by the Cluj Cultural Centre (RO) and Fondazione Bruno Kessler (IT), in collaboration with BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts (BE) and UGM Maribor Art Gallery (SI), within the Art & Well-being Project, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and brings a new perspective on how arts influence well-being during a crisis period, such as the Covid 19 pandemic.
The research explores engagement in cultural activities with reference to well-being and health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Key research takeaways
An aspect emphasized by this research is that during Covid-19 pandemic art consumption increased compared to the period before. 45% of the subjects responded that they have accessed art less often before the pandemic compared to the pandemic period, while for 32% of respondents the frequency of art consumption was the same, suggesting an increase of cultural access during the pandemic.
The contribution of art to individual well-being
- 64.21% of the respondents declare that art made them feel better
- 41.89% claim that art helped them experience beauty, awe, transcendence
- 38.17% say that art made them reflect on their lives
How people describe their experiences with culture during the pandemic
- The emotions / states of well-being designated as prevalent turn out to be ”joy/happiness”, ”relaxation”, and ”positive mood”.
“Absorbed, in the moment, happy, pleased with what I have achieved (even if it is very small and silly!)” (Female, 46-55 years old, Scotland)
- The participants indicated the cathartic significance of the experience and the escape from a problematic reality, through immersion in cultural activities
“Película, poema: emoción, catarsis” (Female, 31-35 years old, Spain)
- The low attestation of negative connotations however offers interesting reflection: the data point to a sense of inadequacy and frustration experienced during creative or cultural performance/activity.
“Nove volte su dieci è frustrante. Ci vuole determinazione e poi ti senti motivata e sorpresa” (Female, 25-30 years old, Italy)
- Art seems to induce participants to reflect on the current situation and to feel the need for a greater connection/empathy with others.
“Reading and literature made me feel less lonely” (Female, 56-65 years old, Italy)
Art and its potential to contribute to human resilience
The dimensions of culture and creativity were exploited by the participants as ‘coping activities’ and support for the prolonged stressful situation of the lockdown. The search of peace and relaxation, the reflection, the connection between one’s self and the perception of being part of a community have characterized the experience of many of them.
The results of the research emphasize the power of arts to improve well-being and the creativity. Considering all these aspects, several actions can be further considered by the policy makers:
- 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 terms, as part of a societal strategy to improve human resilience.