Here’s a message you should get out to those in the community who have never visited you before: visiting an art exhibit, seeing a Broadway show, or checking out a new display at your local museum is not only entertaining but could help you live longer. And according to a study from University College London (UCL), the more often you go, the better!
Whether it’s a visit to the Met, a show at the Pasadena Playhouse, or a summer night at Glimmerglass listening to opera, you could add years to your life! The study found that regularly engaging with the arts directly affects a person’s lifespan. Research led by UCL found that people who engaged in the arts more frequently had a 31% lower risk of dying early as compared to those who didn’t. Simply visiting the theater or museums once or twice a year was linked to a 14% lower risk.
The 14-year study sampled 6,710 British adults aged 50 years or older with an average age of around 66 years. About 53 percent of the sample were women, the other half, men. While the study didn’t discover exactly why a more culturally enriched life helps people live longer, it certainly highlights the importance of the arts. And although this was a British study, the demographics match with what we know about arts audiences in the US.
Here are 3 more reasons you should support the arts:
1. Arts are good for the economy
America’s arts and culture sector is a $919.7 billion industry that supports millions of jobs, making up 4.3% of the nation’s economy. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $166.3 billion in economic activity each year, supporting 4.6 million jobs and generating $27.5 billion in government revenue. And arts attendees spend over $30 per person in addition to the cost of meals, parking, and lodging. We’re sure you’re preaching this to all your government and private funders, but you can’t say it enough!
2. Arts unite communities
The arts help us feel more connected to our communities. 72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity” and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better.” It’s been refreshing to see how this season’s programs are becoming more diverse and inclusive, but there’s still more to do here.
3. Arts boost academic performance
Students who engage in the arts have higher GPAs and test scores, are less likely to drop out of school, and are more likely to go to college. For these reasons, 91% of Americans believe that the arts are an important part of a well-rounded education. Unfortunately, local funding for arts education has languished in the past two decades, which is one of the reasons we’re all struggling to attract younger audiences.
Whether you want to live longer (don’t we all!) or you’re hoping to support your local community, it’s always a good idea to visit a new art exhibit or catch a show. When the arts are healthy, we’re all healthy!