Exploring the Impact of Community-Based Arts Programming on Determinants of Health using Secondary Evaluation Data
Arts Health Antigonish! (AHA!) is a not–for- profit community organization whose mandate is to foster creative expression for community health and well-being (www.artshealthantigonish.org). Over a four-year period, AHA! programs have engaged approximately 20 local artists and over 2000 community members through poetry, visual arts, dance and music, drama, and digital storytelling. As part of an effort to plan sustainable growth, AHA! completed a summary evaluation of six of its major programs. Programs selected for this evaluation had been offered to a specific group of people on an ongoing basis for a minimum of three months and comparable evaluation data was available. The summary confirmed that participants in all six programs experienced increased social inclusion and meaningful relationships. Marked improvements were noted in health care and living environments and education outcomes. Many positive outcomes around individual development were also identified, such as positive self-expression, improved self-confidence, belonging and empathy. Assessing the impact of broader structural determinants of health remains a challenge. These findings provide direction for future planning, evaluation, and knowledge sharing approaches.
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