When I teach Loving Inquiry, I consider myself a creative mentor. Not only am I inviting other writers to dive into the free fall of their imaginations, I am required to do my own imaginative free falling. Just as I encourage my students, I have to trust I can summon my own artistic skills to support their creative dreaming and discovery.
Recently I learned of some research about how the arts contribute to our sense of happiness, well-being and agency. Dr. Sharon McCoubrey is the Coordinator of Community Engagement for the Faculty of Education at UBC, where she has been collecting reports from around the world about the value of arts to individuals, communities, and society.
According to her research, the Arts are important to individual health and well-being because they:
  • “enrich the experience of life” (PoGs, 2007)
  • “provide pleasure and relaxation” (Bunting, 2007)
  • are “integral to healing and resilience” (Green and Sonn, 2008)
  • “assist in recovery, communication and understanding, and in the management of pain, stress, and other symptoms” (Staricoff, 2004)
  • “provide opportunities for income generation and tourism” (Mulligan et al., 2006), and
 McCoubrey’s research also speaks of how the Arts build capacity, develop community identity and social cohesion, and strengthen local identity,”
Other anecdotes which proved the benefits of Arts participation include:
  • People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with their lives, regardless of how educated or rich they are (British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health).
  • Arts programs for seniors demonstrate that participants “had an improved sense of well-being and social inclusion,” and engaging in arts programs enables seniors to live independently longer, and reduces use of doctors, medications, and medical facilities while enhancing quality of life.
  • The arts are an effective tool to engage youth, as learning through the arts enhances general scholastic achievement. The arts build resilience and self-esteem in young people, and contribute to creating healthy and supportive communities for youth. The arts also offer opportunities for youth leadership development and for youth to affect positive change in their communities (Creative City Network of Canada).

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