Culture, arts and community engagement can benefit wellbeing, but how do our neighbourhoods influence our participation?
In this project we analysed data from six cohort studies on health and community participation to explore the long-term benefits of community activities for wellbeing: arts participation, culture and heritage, sports and nature activities, volunteering and community groups. A key focus in this project was on geography, so whether different neighbourhoods had different levels of engagement and benefit from community activities. As the COVID-19 pandemic took place during this study, we also looked at the impact of the pandemic on community engagement and participation.
- Arts participation more than once per week is associated with higher life satisfaction, lower levels of mental distress, and better mental functioning in the long term while engaging in sports and physical activity 1-3 days a week is associated with greater levels of physical functioning, general health, and vitality
- In particular, the benefits of arts participation and cultural engagement on mental distress and life satisfaction hold after controlling for variables like gender, demographic background, socio-economic characteristics, health behaviour and support from family and friends.
- But there are differences in participation based on geographical factors such as where we live and the characteristics of our neighbourhoods such as area deprivation