Engaging with Arts, Culture and Heritage has a positive impact on wellbeing

July 2021

There is some evidence that taking part in arts and heritage activities in-person or online during the pandemic may have had a positive impact on audiences’ wellbeing:

  • At 80%, a large majority of audiences who participated with arts or heritage in-person during the pandemic say they found it had a positive impact on their wellbeing (with 21% saying it hadn’t, and 13% saying they are unsure).
  • This finding was especially true of those who reported finding that they had more free time during the pandemic
  • 93% of those who had more money and more time also said that engaging in arts and culture had a positive impact on their wellbeing. This group is made up largely of older audiences.

Attenders to these activities in particular were especially likely to say they found it had a positive impact on their wellbeing:

  • Visiting historic parks or gardens (83%)
  • Historic houses or heritage sites (80%)
  • Going to see a film (75%)

While these activities had a smaller impact on increasing feelings of wellbeing:

  • Outdoor festivals (60%)
  • Going to see a play or musical (60%)

Arts participation by life satisfaction.png

This perceived positive impact is reflected in how audiences reported their overall life satisfaction:

Among those who said that they had attended an arts or heritage in-person activity during the pandemic:

  • 28% reported being more satisfied with their life since the pandemic.
  • Compared to 11% of those who attended no arts or heritage in-person.
  • The figures are very similar for online activity.
  • Respondents who participated in arts and culture during the pandemic are more likely to say that their life satisfaction had improved during this period than those who participated in the year prior to the pandemic (28% cf. 21%).

Assuming considerable overlap of these two groups, this could suggest that for those who previously tended to do so, having been able to engage with arts or heritage during the pandemic did improve their life satisfaction.

Motivations during pandemic.png

Between audiences that had engaged with arts and culture in-person during the pandemic and those that hadn’t:

  • There was no significant difference in the frequency with which they had some feelings or thoughts clearly associated with wellbeing, such as ‘I’ve been feeling optimistic about the future’, ‘I’ve been dealing with problems well’ and ‘I’ve been feeling good about myself’.
  • However, there was a noticeable difference in how engagers and non-engagers felt about the past two weeks, in terms of the statements 'I’ve been interested in other people’, ‘I’ve been feeling close to other people’ and ‘I’ve been feeling confident’.
  • 39% of those who had attended in-person arts or heritage events say they were interested in other people often or all of the time, compared to 25% of those that hadn’t.
  • This suggests that one important way that cultural engagement improves wellbeing is by giving audiences the opportunity to socialise.
  • This is supported by the finding that 27% of those who attended arts or heritage in-person during the pandemic said their main reason was ‘to do something sociable’.