In an eye-catchingly titled article, ‘Cultural participation – A Matter of life and Death?’, Mark O’Neill, Director of research at Culture and Sport Glasgow considers recent international research that shows cultural participation makes such a difference to people’s mental and physical wellbeing, that people live longer as a result. The research began in Sweden, but its findings are being confirmed and developed all over the world.
Encouragingly for arts marketers (and anyone else too busy to go to the cinema), it’s not a use it or lose it situation:
‘like physical fitness, regular participation in culture helps maintain wellbeing, and requires regular engagement to realise the benefits. And like sport and physical activity, the benefits can be achieved by starting participation at any age, and recovered after a period of inactivity.’
‘…there is a strong ethical dimension implicit in this research. If engagement with culture enriches people’s experience to the degree that it creates healthier, more flourishing lives, then the issue of access is critical… The obligation to people whose background does not include the cultural capital required to begin the engagement with formal culture is also clear: this is a key justification for public funding.’
That’s all from me, I’m off to take my culture pill!