Arts have an essential role to play in supporting better health and well-being outcomes

7 Feb 2019

This content is tagged as All Artforms .

BLOG

Stephen Wainwright
Posted by Stephen Wainwright

Chief Executive - Pou Whakahaere

Kia ora koutou

Many New Year’s resolutions are centred on living healthier and happier lives. To some that might mean exercising more, or eating better; to others it might mean finally learning the guitar, taking that pottery class, or to simply do things that make you happy and being kinder to yourself. An arts-related activity is often included in this mix. Why? It’s proven that participation in the arts helps us to be happy and healthy.

The Government released the report, He Ara Oranga, from its Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction: Oranga Tāngata, Oranga Whānau in December last year. This short video about the report is a good summary of the mahi (the video is also available in te reo).

He Ara Oranga had 40 recommendations, which will be a big step forward for all New Zealanders if they’re accepted. But what was missing was a specific reference to the benefit participation in the arts has towards better mental health and well-being.

In our submission to the inquiry we advocated for specific funding to support:

  • the introduction of arts prescription schemes
  • creative spaces, directly and consistently to a level that allows them to both sustain and grow their services for people all around Aotearoa.

No-one can doubt the scale and scope of the issues we face as a country in the mental health space. We’re concerned though that not covering the powerful benefits of arts may lead to a lack of policy recognition, and potentially funding, for this important contribution to a more sustainable and healthy community for all New Zealanders.

The Government has said it will respond to the inquiry’s recommendations in March. Before that time we’re calling on policy and decision-makers to seriously consider including our funding considerations in their response.

You can read more about our position. We believe that if we don’t include funding for participation in the arts as part of wider, community-based treatment options for those suffering from mental health issues, wider solutions and treatments won’t be as effective.

We would love to hear from you if you agree with our position. Please email us or make a comment below.

As Banksy said “art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.”

Noho ora mai
Stephen