From the forward by Shirley Cramer, CEO, Royal Society for Public Health:
The last few years have seen a major shift in how we view the role of the creative arts in improving public health. Two decades ago you would rarely have seen reference made to arts and health in the same sentence, whereas now they are inextricably linked. This important book could not be more timely as it draws together the many strands of arts and health, sharing the growing empirical evidence and knowledge about the efficacy of a wide range of arts programmes in improving health together with a variety of inspiring case studies to show the real difference that the creative arts can make to the lives of individuals.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has long been a strong proponent of the capacity of the arts to improve health and well-being, and it has done much to identify and promote the excellent creative programmes that are happening across the UK. The RSPH’s annual Arts and Health Awards shine a bright light on outstanding UK projects, recognizing organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to research and practice. The journals and education programmes of the RSPH have focused on the growing arts and health movement, and it is hugely gratifying that public health professionals, national and local government, and the public now recognize the contribution that the arts can make to a healthier society.
The editors of this book, themselves leading academics and advocates for the role of the arts in improving health, have brought together an extraordinary group of eminent contributors. Academics and practitioners from across the globe highlight the international nature of the field and the benefits the arts can bring to health. These contributions show that the creative arts have a positive effect on health and well-being across the lifespan, benefitting young, working age, and older people as well as across different settings including nurseries, hospitals, schools, community centres, the workplace, care homes, and prisons.
This book underlines the importance of the evidence base to validate the impact that the creative arts can have on supporting society. From a public health perspective the challenge is no longer whether the arts have a beneficial impact but whether resources spent on arts initiatives will have more impact and deliver a better return on investment than other projects. The role of the arts in improving the public’s health has gone mainstream, and we will all be the better for it.