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Performing Arts Attendees are Healthier

November 14, 2011 - People who attend concert, theatre or film are significantly healthier, have lower anxiety and are less susceptible to depression.

These are some of the findings from an important Norwegian study1 published earlier this year. This study and other literature on Arts and Health were reviewed in order to prepare an Arts Facts one-pager for Arts Day on the Hill. This literature review provided strong evidence of links between performing arts attendance and several health indicators such as self-reported health, stress, mental health and longevity.

Here are other interesting and even surprising findings related to the performing arts:

  • The more frequently people attend performing arts and other receptive arts, the more likely they are to report good health.1,2
  • Attending cultural events is linked with longevity. People who rarely attend such events [theatre, concerts and live music performances, museums, arts exhibition and cinema] run a nearly 60% higher mortality risk than those attending most often.3
  • Rare and moderate theater, live music shows and other cultural events attendees in urban areas are 3 times more likely to die of cancer over time than frequent attendees.4

At a time when governments are looking for ways to balance their budgets, these findings seem particularly worthy of consideration, as they may inform policies on health promotion and contribute to reducing health care spendings. They also provide strong evidence in support of projects and initiatives such as The Value of Presenting Study.

More facts on community health and other arts and health aspects can be found on the website of Arts Health Network Canada.

1 Patterns of receptive and creative cultural activities and their association with perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life among adults, Koenraad Cuypers et al, 2011.
2 Are variations in rates of attending cultural activities associated with population health in the United States?, Anna Wilkinson et al, 2007.
3 Attendance at cultural events, reading books or periodicals, and making music or singing in a choir as determinants for survival, Lars Olov Bygren et al, 1996.
4 Attending cultural events and cancer mortality: A Swedish cohort study, Lars Olov Bygren et al, 2009.