Evidencing has become increasingly important for arts and well-being programming and we certainly have explored a range of strategies. It’s been a bumpy ride. We’ve often thought simply taking photographs of participants’ expressions and body language before and after the sessions would be enough to satisfy anyone who had ever had felt a need to question the benefits of arts and well-being programming. But unfortunately, that doesn’t answer our collective burning human need for understanding ‘why’ and ‘how’.
While research is particularly satisfying when it confirms your hypothesis, more intriguing is the discovery of something unexpected. We discovered this for ourselves when analysing the themes from a recent participant questionnaire.
Based on this research and in order of priority, this is why people come to Art & Soul:
- Why did you decide to join Art & Soul?
- Response to mental wellbeing challenges
- Loneliness/ find community
- Space to create and develop artistic abilities
- Curiosity intrigue/ recommendation
- Support partner
- Has Art & Soul addressed your reason for joining?
- Yes, 100%
- How has Art & Soul addressed your reasons for joining?
- Encouragement/ support/ safety/ acceptance/ wellbeing
- Produced artwork and learned new skills
- Relaxing/ calm/peaceful
- Has Art & Soul enhanced your wellbeing?
- Yes, 100%
- How has Art and Soul enhanced your overall wellbeing?
- Encourages purpose, goals (aspiration) achievement
- Builds positive anticipation, gives pleasure/joy
- Builds self-belief, self-confidence, positivity
- Welcoming community/ feelings of acceptance
6. Can you describe a peak positive or memorable experience you have had as a member of Art & Soul?
- Experiences of inspiration and confidence
- Exhibiting Artwork
- Experiences of community and friendships
- Learning and accomplishment
- Every session is a positive experience
- Respect and acknowledgement
7. What do you think Art & Soul does best?
- Encouraging, safe, supportive, non-judgemental
- Provides a positive and welcoming environment/community
- Provides artistic knowledge/creative experience
- Inspiration and confidence to try new things