Creation of community arts activities for health and wellbeing: learning from an evaluation study

Authors: Norton, E., Hemingway, A. and Ellis-Hill, C.

Conference: The 4th International NCCS & EACS Conference, Malardalen University, Sweden


Creation of community arts activities for health and wellbeing; learning from an evaluation study

Background Caring is occurring in new ways, for example through ‘social prescription’ in the UK. Social prescription intends to improve the health and wellbeing of people with long term conditions by enabling them to participate in non-clinical community activities. This conference recognises our “need to keep caring as a constant and understand how best health care practitioners can achieve this”. However, not all socially prescribed activities are delivered by health care practitioners. Here we consider three community arts activities delivered by dance practitioners (dance for people with Parkinson’s) and art teachers (art for people experiencing mild to moderate memory loss and art sessions for parents experiencing challenges). Although designed as community art fora, sessions accounted for the possible vulnerabilities of attendees and so our learning potentially applies to the context of social prescription.

Aim Overall, to evaluate arts activities designed to assist groups of potentially vulnerable people to manage their circumstances and improve their lives.

Method A participatory approach was used including collection of qualitative data across the projects from group members engaging in the art activities, people who accompanied them, the artists who facilitated sessions and, in the case of the dancing, volunteers who assisted.

Results Preliminary analysis of the data across the three art projects suggests that common and important factors leading to the art and dance sessions’ success include the qualities of the teachers and the environments they created.

Conclusion The evaluation offers insight into factors leading to successful community arts-based activities for health and wellbeing.

Implications for caring in a changing world The qualities of the teachers and the environments they create appear to be important factors in the delivery of successful community activities for potentially vulnerable people and this learning can inform the social prescription agenda.

Source: Manual