I have long been an advocate of the positive effect that the arts can have on us. Having worked in the creative industry for many years I know first-hand how it can have a powerful impact on our mental and physical self.
It is all too easy to be cynical about the arts and to consider them as lesser than the sciences, something that is purely aesthetic and therefore shallow. We forget, however, that we all engage with it on some level day to day; whether listening to music, the radio, cooking, picking the clothes we wear, watching TV or reading. If anyone is a parent, no doubt you have encouraged your toddlers and young children to paint, make things from cardboard or playdough, or dress up and enter imaginary worlds. We endorse and see the value of play and art in our children, who relish participating in it, untroubled with the worry of perfection or lack of skill. It seems such a shame that all too often we forget the playfulness of childhood, simply viewing those years of creativity as a stepping stone into the world of adulthood.
If we could acknowledge the value of art throughout the whole of our lives, we may also improve the health of a nation. In fact, research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts and Wellbeing showed that visual art improves psychological and physical wellbeing. The report claims that the UK needs to see a shift in its culture of healthcare explaining we haven’t ‘realised the potential art has to aid medical practices’. In fact, medical professionals are now prescribing art in order to prevent illness. Interestingly, art classes are being introduced in medical schools such as Penn State College of Medicine in the US, to promote a ‘more personal approach to what has become an impersonal role’. In countries like Australia, Cuba and the Nordic countries they see the significance of art and the positive effect it can have, developing creative thinking and problem solving skills and productivity.
Let’s stop seeing art as something that is a benign ‘poor cousin’ to science and more of a priceless and effective partner. Put simply, taking part in a creative activity can make you feel better regardless of how proficient you think you may be. So, for anyone doubting the importance of art, or themselves, I urge you to take a dip into creative waters and bathe in their powerful benefits.
Sally Wozencroft – Wellbeing Officer, Cardiff Sixth Form CollegeCategories: Articles