Independent collective, A New Approach release second report

The report reveals the impact of arts and culture on aging, health, learning, jobs and loneliness.

When people engage in cultural or creative activities, they generally have better educational outcomes, are less lonely, are healthier both physically and mentally, and enjoy a happier and healthier life in old age.

These are the findings of a new report, Transformative: Impacts of Culture and Creativity, produced by independent think tank A New Approach (ANA), which documents the substantive international evidence showing that many significant national issues are improved through greater cultural and creative engagement.

The report highlights a range of challenges that research shows many people in Australia find confronting. These include reputable qualitative findings that nearly 50% of people feel society is broken and 36% feel like a stranger in their own communities.

A New Approach Program Director, Kate Fielding, said this second report from ANA provides strong evidence that arts and culture can be ‘truly transformative.’

‘This report provides an abundance of evidence that culture and creativity inspire and enable meaningful change across some of our biggest public policy challenges, both for individuals and communities,’ Ms Fielding said.

It explores how investing in culture affects seven broad aspects of Australians’ lives: society and place; the economy; innovation; health and wellbeing; education and learning; international engagement and how engaging with creativity builds a strong cultural life across the nation.

‘Engaging with arts and culture has successfully influenced and transformed all seven areas: by building stronger, more cohesive communities, growing our GDP and driving innovation, improving physical, mental and emotional health outcomes, lifting educational standards, and enhancing trade and diplomatic relations,’ said Ms Fielding. ‘It’s also an area of higher-than-average job growth.’

The ANA report contends that with a strategic and coordinated effort, Australia has an opportunity to enrich its cultural fabric and become a happier, healthier, smarter, wealthier and more cohesive country.

In line with this call to action, the report puts forward seven ‘options for consideration,’ outlining opportunities for stakeholders to engage with the seven challenges identified in Transformative: Impacts of Culture and Creativity

These include:

  • A broad multi-government inquiry to map current impact and investment in culture, and identify areas where we could invest more effectively; Identifying
  • Australia’s areas of comparative advantage, where new investment in the creative, cultural and digital sectors will help diversify our economic base and address our substantial trade deficit in creative goods and services;
  • Prioritising research and investment in Australia-specific trials, recognising the positive impacts of arts and culture interventions in treating loneliness and dementia;
  •  Identifying new areas for investment in arts and culture activities that encourage greater social inclusion and cohesion;
  • Supporting research that explores the impact of arts and culture on students’ academic performance;
  • Ensuring arts and culture are central pillars for Australia’s soft power diplomatic activities; and
  • Prioritising initiatives that will boost arts and culture activity in regional and remote Australia, enhancing economic diversification, community wellbeing and population attraction and retention in these areas.

Download the full report here.