How the Arts strengthen communities
Research done in the fields of good fun.

Posted by Ushan Boyd

Chinatown Big Top - Act-Belong-Commit Sandfly Circus 2013


The Arts in Australia has it's ups and downs, no denying it. Sometimes it is flying with full support and political backing, other times it is shunted to the side as a bit player in a grand plan. So just how important is the arts to a communities wellbeing?

There is a sense (amongst artists usually, and appreciators of art) that there is something more than niceties to the arts. An understated something that is obvious, but not recognised. That the arts provides something that nothing else really does. To say that it is important is true, but doesn't cover it, and anyway, where is the evidence? We know it is valuable, but how? and to who?


The Research

Fortunately, more research is starting to accumulate in this vein. A previous post  mentions research highlights the positive effect engaging with the Arts has on children. Similarly evidence that the Arts is good for grown-ups, the elderly and for whole communities. This evidence is world-wide, with research and evidence accumulating over decades. Once this evidence is compiled, we start to see some very strong arguments for supporting the Arts on Federal, State and Local Community levels.

Kimberley Arts Engage

Recently KPAC and Bang the Table joined forces and presented an Arts Forum asking the public to voice their opinion about the future of the Arts in Broome. This conversation still wants to hear from you. The research gathered at these events are one of the primary ways that your voice can be heard. Check it out here : http://kimberleyartsengage.com.au/. I encourage you to have a look, and a say. The results of the weekend are still being formulated, so stay tuned.

This report by Arts Victoria and the Department for Planning and Community Development "demonstrates that arts can be a powerful and inclusive way of strengthening communities". It goes onto to prove that creative focus, pride, confidence, a sense of belonging and new career opportunities and pathways can be provided for anyone, including hard to reach populations, youth, ethnic groups and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

This work by Kim Dunphy for the Creative City Network of Canada focuses on Regional Arts in Australia and notes that "art and creative initiative are significant for the development of rural and remote communities in the economic, environmental, social, and cultural domain".

Research is accumulating. The case for effective and committed Arts Policies is gaining ground. It's a good thing for vibrant, engaging towns, and it's all in the name of good fun.

From Australia:

How the arts and cultural sector strengthen cultural values and preserve heritage and history

From the rest of the world

How the Arts Impacts Communities
Making the Case for Arts Education


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