Wellbeing benefits of culture

International expert on culture and wellbeing, Prof James Pawelski PhD visited the city of Adelaide between 24 July and 16 August 2019, connecting with a diverse range of people through a variety of conversations, meetings, workshops and public events.

Through these engagements Prof Pawelski heard about the many ways the lives of Adelaideans are enriched through their engagement with creative activities, arts and culture, about the initiatives already in place that enhance people’s wellbeing through culture, and strategies to improve access to these rewarding experiences to benefit a greater number of the city’s population.

From this visit Prof Pawelski prepared a report with four recommendations and supporting actions for continuing to improve the wellbeing of Adelaide through culture.


Snapshot of report recommendations

Given how easy it is to take for granted the role of arts, culture, creativity and wellbeing in our lives and communities, it is important to be informed and consistently reminded about their importance.

1.1 Share information we already have

1.2 Encourage arts, culture, and wellbeing check-ins

1.3 Move beyond artefacts to experiences

1.4 Educate providers and participants on the latest scientific findings in the science of wellbeing and its effects on engagement in arts creative pursuits and culture

1.5 Create arts, culture, creative industries and wellbeing information sharing solutions

Because of the importance of creative experiences, arts and culture for wellbeing, as many people as possible should be encouraged to benefit from positive participation in these activities. It is important to be exposed to age-appropriate arts, culture and creative pursuits when we are young and throughout our development and lifespan.

2.1 Encourage everyone to engage more frequently in arts, culture and creative activities for wellbeing

2.2 Life Hack: Incorporating small everyday arts, culture and creative activities for wellbeing

2.3 Create unconventional arts, culture and creative opportunities

2.4 Embed arts, culture, creative activities and wellbeing in education

2.5 Social prescribing

Arts and culture are often housed in influential organisations such as galleries and museums, theatres and libraries. It is crucial that these organisations see the cultivation of wellbeing through their sector as a part of their mission, and it is helpful for them to collaborate across the arts, culture and creative industry sectors to realise this mission. It is also important for other organisations (e.g. in government, medicine, education, and business) to understand the potential of arts, culture, and wellbeing to help them achieve their missions more effectively.

3.1 Highlight what is already happening

3.2 Arts, culture and creative sector partners develop plans to connect arts, culture, and wellbeing

3.3 Consider how organisations in other sectors can use arts, culture, creativity and wellbeing to achieve their missions more effectively

3.4 Optimise Corporate Collaborations

3.5 Philanthropy

It is important to measure and evaluate the effects of efforts in arts, culture, creative industries and wellbeing to see what is working (and how it is working) and what is not. This assessment should include a variety of appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods for measurement and evaluation. Emphasis should be placed on moving beyond a focus on participation numbers and economic impact data to understanding ways in which participation in arts and creative culture activities can affect a range of wellbeing outcomes.

4.1 Publicise current efforts and goals

4.2 Establish a collaborative group of researchers already working in this domain

4.3 Understand more clearly the nature of the wellbeing benefits of arts and culture and learn how they can best be advanced

4.4 Trial the free toolkit of arts, culture, and wellbeing measures under development at the University of Pennsylvania

4.5 Long-term participation in an international network of researchers and practitioners