Arts and cultural events seen as community-building, report concludes

Published yesterday, the Arts Council England study says having good arts and culture is seen as just as important as having good schools

The arts: help build communities, says study
The arts: help build communities, says study

Arts and cultural events and organisations are thought by the public to help support communities, says a report by Arts Council England.

The report, The Value of Arts and Culture in Place-shaping, published yesterday, says most people believe that events run by arts organisations, many of which are charities, can help to build communities.

The arts funding body used data from The Active Lives Survey by Ipsos Mori, which surveyed 1,756 people between May 2017 and May 2018. ACE also conducted focus groups in Birmingham, Halifax, Hastings, Redruth, Southampton and Stoke-on-Trent, and spoke to businesses and local organisations.

The ACE report says that 49 per cent of those asked said attending arts and cultural events helped them feel part of a community, with 68 per cent thinking such events were very important for fostering community feeling.

"The most prominent factor that survey respondents cited for their comments about their area getting better was in relation to the community groups and events on offer in the area," the report says. It cites events such as festivals, parades and plays as examples.

"In general, the interviewees commented that these groups and events helped to foster a strong sense of community and identity," the report says.

"Within all focus groups, the importance of arts and culture was highlighted in relation to community integration.

"A strong and vibrant arts and cultural offer was seen as integral to providing opportunities for communities to come together, fostering a sense of collective identity, space for interaction and shared experience, and thus contributing towards people having a stronger attachment to place."

More than half of those surveyed (55 per cent) said they wanted to see more of such events in their area and 65 per cent thought such events were good for wellbeing.

The survey found that 43 per cent of respondents rated the arts and cultural offering to be an important factor in their decision to move into an area – the same number who cited schools.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said: "These figures demonstrate that people value arts and culture, and that the opportunity to visit a theatre, listen to music or borrow a book from a local library is as important a factor in their choice of where to live as the availability of good schools.

"The report shows that public investment in the arts is helping to bring people together, promoting wellbeing and sustaining towns and cities through the dramatic changes happening on high streets.

"By supporting our cultural sector we create happier, more vibrant communities where people are proud to live and work."

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