The Impact of Restricted Access to Arts & Culture

The Impact of Restricted Access to Arts & Culture

This study, led by Professor Josie Billington and Dr Katia Balabanova, will assess the impact on mental health of restricted access to arts and culture in a specific city region, and track, enable and enhance the value of innovation in arts provision in mitigating associated harms.

Liverpool has one of the richest concentrations of culture in the UK, boasting the largest clustering of museums and galleries outside London. Cultural capital is critical to the city region’s economy, contributing c10% (Culture Liverpool,2019). The city also has a pioneering history of harnessing arts for mental health care through partnerships between culture and health providers. 

Building on the University of Liverpool’s strong alliance with organisations across these sectors, this project brings together an interdisciplinary team of arts and mental health researchers to devise and conduct, in consultation with cultural and health bodies, two surveys.

Survey 1 will target arts organisations (civic institutions and community arts programmes, representing ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ arts) to capture (i)the impact of COVID-19 on public access to arts provision (including those who usually access the arts through formal healthcare routes) and on audience/beneficiary change over time (legacy losses and potential gains) (ii)the success of alternative (e.g. online/digital) modes of provision by arts organisations in reaching and communicating with established and/or new audiences. 

Survey 2 will target arts’ audiences/beneficiaries to capture (i)the impact on mental health of restricted/non-existent access to usual provision (ii)the perceived value and accessibility of alternative arts provision and the latter’s impact on mental health/wellbeing.

In assessing both the deficits (in terms of mental health) and the benefits (in terms of creativity and innovation) of restricted access to arts/culture  during lockdown, the study will contribute crucial evidence in support of re-investment and building back a vibrant arts culture in Liverpool in the aftermath of the pandemic.  

This project has been made possible thanks to support from the UKRI Covid-19 open call fund.

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