The House of Memories programme at National Museums Liverpool pioneered dementia practice in museums

Museums are “promising example” of role of culture in health and social care

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 05.12.2018
Report examines place of arts and culture in health, wellbeing and prison sectors
Museums offer a “promising example” of the role that arts and culture can play in health and social care settings, according to a new report by Arts Council England (ACE). 

The report reviews evidence on the role and impact of arts and culture practice in health and wellbeing, and in the criminal justice system. It is the last of a series of evidence documents compiled to inform the arts council’s next 10-year strategy. 

The report states that more than 600 museums in the UK – almost a quarter – are already running programmes targeting health and wellbeing. 

Older people and those with dementia are the largest target group for museum wellbeing programmes, according to the report, which cites longitudinal research suggesting a correlation between regular museum attendance and a lower incidence of dementia among the over-50s. 

The report also compiles wider evidence on the impact of arts and culture on health and wellbeing, such as a large population study from Norway involving more that 50,000 participants, which found that participating in creative cultural activities was significantly associated with good health, satisfaction with life and low anxiety and depression, even when the data was adjusted for other factors. 

In terms of the criminal justice system, the report draws on existing peer reviewed academic research on the positive impact that arts and culture programmes can have on offenders and the prison environment. It also identifies news areas for research going forward, such as the role arts and culture could play in the social reintegration and resettlement of offenders.
 
The report suggests a more integrated approach between stakeholders in the culture and criminal justice sectors, citing as an example the partnerships that have been established between prisons and higher education institutions. 

A consultation on the arts council's strategy, which will determine its funding and policy agenda from 2020 to 2030, is open until 2 January.

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