An evaluation report for an arts & mental health project set up by artsNK and Transported confirms the positive benefits that participation in the arts can have for individual wellbeing and social cohesion.
Taking pART was a series of free creative workshops, supported with funding from the Mental Health Promotion Fund and Arts Council England, for people from Spalding and Boston with a special emphasis on integrating those experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. The project took place from January to July 2016 with an ongoing self-run group continuing to meet after this time.
The evaluation report carried out by MB Associates, revealed that most people involved with Taking pART had a very positive experience and the results were excellent, meeting the main aims of: participants developing new skills, experiencing increased wellbeing, building lasting relationships and encouraging mutual support.
Participants on the programme experienced a significant rise in happiness levels both in themselves and socially, with participants from Boston also experiencing a sense of greater independence. The report draws out the potential social value of individuals’ increased wellbeing, including a knock on effect locally and in the economy through a more cohesive community and potential welfare savings.
The evaluation report also revealed the benefit of utilising local libraries as host venues for arts projects for vulnerable people as they are both central and non-judgmental environments that deliver services beyond book borrowing.
Marion Sander, Visual Arts Development Co-ordinator at artsNK who led on the development of the programme said:
“Taking pART was an Arts and Health project that had a great impact on all who were involved in it; from the management team, library staff and evaluation team to the artists who delivered the workshops and, of course, the participants themselves. Beyond raising awareness of how art can have a positive effect on mental health issues, Taking pART has helped artsNK and Transported to forge ongoing relationships with participants, artists and libraries and developed new partnerships with the health and wellbeing sector.”
An exhibition of some participants’ work created in the ‘Woven Landscapes’ workshops with textile artist Sue Rowland, is on display in the Natural World Centre’s café gallery at Whisby Nature Park until 19th March. The exhibition not only give participants a chance to show their work, but also aims to raise awareness of mental health issues.