The case for arts and older people
The Foundation is clear that the arts have intrinsic value. They are fundamentally important for their unique ability to give joy and to express our need to
understand ourselves and the world. So everyone has a right to participate in the arts, but research shows that this participation declines after 65. There is good evidence that exposure to arts in childhood helps develop a lifelong interest and this has influenced arts policy. So the UK has invested wisely in arts and young
people, but policy for older people has been unnecessarily neglected.
But, in addition to this right to culture, there is also a proven case for the broader benefits of participation in the arts for older people. We funded an independent review in 2011 of the scientific evidence to date by the Mental Health Foundation.
This concluded, 'the studies in this review suggest that engaging with participatory art can improve the wellbeing of older people and mediate against the negative
effects of becoming older.' This applied to mental and physical health, as well as developing happier, more integrated communities. The highly damaging effect of loneliness on older people especially has become increasingly of national concern.
The arts have a powerful positive effect here too and this is explored in our publication Tackling Loneliness in Older Age ' The Role of the Arts.