Lord Howarth

Lord Howarth of Newport, Member of Parliament from 1983 until 2005, Minister for the Arts at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport 1998 and life peer since 2005, highlights the distinctive power of the arts, and points to some of the evidence.

THE POWER OF THE ARTS

“The power of participating in the arts in changing people’s lives has to do with the fact that it is so often an experience of achieving psychological or spiritual integrity. There is a healing process that is inherent in artistic activity, and one of the reasons that the arts matter so very, very much is that artistic creativity is an experience of committing yourself to something non material. Self-expression commits the whole of your being, your personality and your faculties to an activity, and that I think is an inherently healthy and good thing.”

EVIDENCE

“Research has documented and demonstrated the very concrete benefits of the arts in terms of good health. For example Dr Rosalia Staricoff’s arts research project at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital is a classic reference point where she did very rigorous research, examining patient recovery times and staff turnover. On a variety of measures she was able to convincingly correlate improved performance with the impact of the arts.”

“There has been a wealth of sufficient and rigorous research in this field – a lot of anecdote, a lot of assertion and lot of appeal to common sense but, while it has been enough to persuade me, unfortunately it isn’t necessarily enough to persuade funders. Statistics will probably show that there has been faster growth in public funding for other areas than there has been for the arts, which is a shame. We know that funding is very tight, but let’s hope that when we get past 2012 the pendulum will swing back to the middle and there will be a better balance of distribution.”

Taken from ‘Restoring the balance’, a Voluntary Arts England publication. Download the full interview with Lord Howarth or the full pdf of ‘Restoring the balance‘.

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