Giving Compass' Take:

• Art therapy and arts programs can strengthen mental health and contribute to overall positive well-being, especially in times of turmoil.

•  Where can donors intervene to push capital toward arts research? How can research help inform policy changes, and program direction for public good? 

• Learn more about arts and culture philanthropy. 

A UK study of adult mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic has found that more than a fifth of a 70,000-person sample engaged more with the arts during lockdown than before.

Statistics like these throw up interesting questions for cultural institutions (but also for places of worship) as they reopen. How can we channel private interests through creative public engagement? How can we renew or reinvent the social role of arts organizations as special places of gathering for people to develop and nurture themselves?

More and more arts and cultural practitioners are eager to make work that tackles big social issues and they are deeply invested in contributing to public wellbeing. The fevered uncertainty of our times, and the fragmented world we see around us, are encouraging us to assemble projects that positively impact engagement with people’s inner lives and abilities to make sense of the world, and their place in it.

Perhaps it is the intersection between science and art where global health issues can be filtered through the lens of the individual: where policy and research is mediated through human experience. The power of these intersections is compelling – both for the efficacy of research and for generating a better understanding of the human condition. Here are three examples of projects that have achieved the "sci-art sweet spot".

  1. Mental health and the arts: Mindscapes
    A project where Wellcome is actively bringing together intersecting concerns with the arts and mental health is Mindscapes.
  2. Art as research: Covid-Living
    Connected to Mindscapes, the Covid Living project emerged from Wellcome’s attempts to understand the mental health component of the pandemic.
  3. Imagining the future to prepare for it: Contagious Cities
    The project supported local conversations around the global challenges of epidemic preparedness.

Read the full article about art therapy for mental health by Ken Arnold and Danielle Olsen at World Economic Forum.