Australian report champions the value of a rich cultural life

A report from Australian independent think-tank A New Approach (ANA) has added to the growing body of evidence that demonstrates the health benefits of arts and culture. Transformative: Impacts of Culture and Creativity drew from material from Australia and around the world to conclude that when people have opportunities to engage in some form of cultural or creative activity, they generally have better educational outcomes, are less lonely, are healthier both physically and mentally, and enjoy a happier and healthier life in old age.

A New Approach Program Director, Kate Fielding, said this second report from ANA provides strong evidence that arts and culture can be ‘truly transformative’.

The report explores how investing in culture affects seven broad aspects of Australians’ lives: society and place; the economy; innovation; health and wellbeing; education and learning; international engagement and how engaging with creativity builds a strong cultural life across the nation.

‘Engaging with arts and culture has successfully influenced and transformed all seven areas: by building stronger, more cohesive communities, growing our GDP and driving innovation, improving physical, mental and emotional health outcomes, lifting educational standards, and enhancing trade and diplomatic relations,’ said Fielding. ‘It’s also an area of higher-than-average job growth.’

However, despite the evidence, and the fact many people are engaged in cultural activities, Australia is yet to fully galvanise culture’s power for good.

‘While the report shines a light on some of Australia’s biggest present-day challenges and the evidential benefits derived from a “cultural fix”, there is currently no clear mapping of the benefits of arts and culture across policy portfolios, and no mechanism through which to encourage strategic investment to advance the positive impacts,’ Fielding said.

‘If Australians are to enjoy the benefits of enhanced creative and cultural activity, it will require commitment, courage and collaboration from all stakeholders, including philanthropists, businesses, non-government organisations, creators and consumers, as well as all levels of government.’

Read the report in full here.