Creating Wellbeing: Attitudes and engagement with arts, culture and health provides insights into who is accessing the arts to improve their health and wellbeing, and how people feel about the idea of ‘arts on prescription’ – an innovative practice that seeks to improve overall wellbeing by including arts engagement as part of health treatment plans. The report also highlights new areas of inquiry to deepen our understanding of Australians’ engagement with and attitudes towards arts, culture and health.
This report analyses data on arts engagement from the Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated’s (ACSPRI) 2021 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA). It explores the potential health and wellbeing benefits of arts and creativity and investigates how the idea of arts on prescription is understood and perceived by the Australian public.
Creating Wellbeing was prepared by Creative Australia with support from the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra. The report sits within a wider body of work conducted by Creative Australia which explores the relationship between arts and health from the perspective of policy, audiences, and the requirements of artists working in the arts and wellbeing field.
- Almost every respondent – 98% – identified that they are engaging with the arts, either by reading for pleasure, listening to music, attending arts and cultural events and venues, or by making art themselves. This insight aligns with the findings from Creative Australia’s 2022 National Arts Participation Survey which indicates 97% of Australians engage with the arts.
- People who participate in the arts are more likely to be at the high (‘very happy’) or low (‘unhappy’) end of the subjective happiness scale. In other words, the relationship between arts participation and happiness is not uniform, but rather, rates of arts participation increase at the more extreme ends of the happiness spectrum.
- Those with better subjective health are more likely to attend arts and cultural events. People who rate their health as ‘excellent or very good’ and ‘good’ are significantly more likely to attend arts events compared to those who rate their health as ‘fair or poor’.
- Most people agree that engaging in the arts can have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, including mental health, social health, physical health, family life, community life, and knowledge and skills.
- Most respondents are open to arts on prescription. Almost nine in ten respondents are either ‘very open’ or ‘somewhat open’ to arts on prescription for mental health conditions.
- Those who are ‘very open’ to arts on prescription tend to be women, aged 25–64, on middle incomes, hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and in paid employment. Those who are ‘not very open’ or ‘not open at all’ to arts on prescription are more likely to be men, aged 45 and over, low-income earners, and those who do not hold a post-school qualification.
- Support for arts on prescription increases at the more extreme ends of the happiness spectrum. Those who are ‘very open’ to arts on prescription are more likely to be either ‘very happy’ or ‘unhappy’.
- People who participate in the arts tend to have higher confidence in, and more favourable attitudes towards, the healthcare system. They are more likely to be willing to pay for higher taxes for improved healthcare, and to agree publicly funded healthcare should be available to all residents of Australia. They are also more likely to say the healthcare system is efficient.