As a result of the recession and cuts in government funding, there’s a lot of interest in “justifying” the importance of the arts, particularly in economic terms. Often the economic value is measured through paying audiences and places the arts and theatre in particular within the Tourism and Leisure industries.
However, increasingly a link is being made between involvement with the arts and health and societal benefits. For example, recent studies suggest that participation in theatre workshops can help rehabilitate offenders and therefore help reduce crime (www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/276/case-study/beating-bad-behaviour?utm_source=Weekly-Good-Reads&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Beating-bad-behaviour&utm_campaign=10th-July-2014). Similarly, work with dementia sufferers has indicated a reduction in symptoms, following museum workshops (www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/features/01102013-memory-work#.U8Y5N_ldWTM).
Locally, a scheme called Converge is delivered by York St John University and co-funded by the university and Leeds and York NHS Foundation Trust (www.yorksj.ac.uk/create/create14/converge.aspx). Converge provides arts-related courses, runs a theatre company, and a choir aimed at mental health service users. Not only does the programme directly link arts and health, the courses are delivered by university staff, graduates and arts students, but Occupational Therapy students also volunteer as “buddies” to support the Converge students, gaining valuable work experience, training from the NHS partner and a professional reference.
Are you interested in how the arts impact on individuals and society? There are a number of different career areas this interest could relate to:
- Academic: working in Arts & Humanities, Health Sciences or Economics as a researcher or lecturer. www.academiccareer.manchester.ac.uk/
- Arts, Heritage & Culture : working in Theatre/ Arts Education or Out-reach work. http://ccskills.org.uk/careers/advice/article/arts-education-officer
- Health services: Drama or Art Therapy, Occupational Therapy www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/arts-and-health-commissioning-bodies-need-be-side
- Social work: Prison Education, Youth Work www.artsalliance.org.uk/
- Professional artists and scientists are also exploring these potential links directly in their work: www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2014/jan/20/art-health-science-culture-medicine