Life Without the Arts

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Arts legend has it that when Winston Churchill was urged to cut investment in the Arts during WWll to help pay for the war effort, he responded: “Then what would we be fighting for?”.

Here at South Hill Park, we couldn’t agree more. The Arts make living worthwhile. They aren’t just there to give us pleasure in our spare time, but are the tools through which we express ourselves, connect to other people, share experiences and discover new things about ourselves, each other and the wider world around us.

Take a moment to imagine a life without the Arts.

A world without dance schools, theatres, art galleries or music venues. A world without Mozart or The Beatles, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or Monet’s Water Lilies; without Shakespeare, Chekhov or Tennessee Williams.

Imagine living in that world.

Community Arts venues subsidised by public funding are fundamental to keeping the Arts available and affordable to everyone in the UK, and not just the privileged few who can afford to journey into the big cities and pay the big city prices.

Publicly funded community arts venues are also the life blood for the great artists – and arts events – of the future.

Arts and culture benefit us economically, socially and educationally. They also give us joy, let us reflect and help us empathise. As watchers and visitors, as artists (professional and amateur), as producers, curators and entrepreneurs, as policy makers and investors, we are all connected to our country’s unique and rich cultural life.

Arts Council England, Making the Case for Arts and Culture

Health and wellbeing

Studies consistently show the positive benefit of the Arts on good health and wellbeing. Arts Council England’s report The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society noted the following:

  • Those who attended a cultural place or event in the last 12 months are almost 60 per cent more likely to report good health compared to those who had not, and theatre-goers are almost 25 per cent more likely to report good health.
  • People value being in the audience to the arts at about £2,000 per person per year and participating at £1,500 per person. The value of participating in sports is about £1,500 per person per year.
  • Research has evidenced that a higher frequency of engagement with arts and culture is generally associated with a higher level of subjective wellbeing.
  • Engagement in structured arts and culture improves the cognitive abilities of children and young people.
  • A number of studies have reported findings of applied arts and cultural interventions and measured their positive impact on specific health conditions which include dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
  • The use of art, when delivered effectively, has the power to facilitate social interaction as well as enabling those in receipt of social care to pursue creative interests. The review highlights the benefits of dance for reducing loneliness and alleviating depression and anxiety among people in social care environments.

And then there’s the economic argument.

Continuing to fund the Arts makes sound economic sense.

Funding the Arts throughout Britain costs just 14p per person, per week (source: Arts Council England). Public funding for arts and culture (including museums and libraries) currently amounts to just 0.1% of total Government spend, but yet returns an impressive £7bn to the UK economy.

Every £1 of public money invested in arts & culture generates £5 for the economy (source: Arts & Growth Report commissioned by Creative Industries Federation July 2015; Contribution of the Arts & Culture Sector to the National Economy Report – commissioned by Arts Council England July 2015).

Living in an area where there is twice the amount of Arts & Culture available could increase house prices by an average of £26,817 (source: Centre for Economics & Business Research May 2013).

You can get more information or read the full report from Arts Council England here.