A Spot of Culture Can Make a Huge Difference to Our Sense of Wellbeing

By Ward, Bill | The Scotsman, February 14, 2017 | Go to article overview

A Spot of Culture Can Make a Huge Difference to Our Sense of Wellbeing


Ward, Bill, The Scotsman


The Scottish Government has identified that people who regularly attend a cultural place or event are more likely to report good health compared to those who have not. At a time when the professional health services are under pressure and the importance of mental health care has become a political priority, it is timely to reflect on the crucial contribution that the arts make to well-being in Scotland.

The great strength of Macrobert Arts Centre is the ability to provide a wide variety of different artforms offering a variety of creative opportunities to meet the needs and expectations of ourdiverse audiences, and participants in the Forth Valley region.

Wellbeing is at the heart of the Macrobert Art Centre's activities, with morethan 200 people regularly attending 18 weeklyclasses. As Executive Director, it is hugely rewarding for me when young people who take part in classes regularly feed back to us how theyhave increased their feeling of self-worth and confidence, now have a sense ofbelonging, and have developed social skills while making new friends. The workshops have helped provide an escape for many of the young participants, leading to a reduction in stress.

Our commitment to participation is multi-generational - we offer dance classes for the over-60s which improve physical wellbeing while providing a great chance for group members to socialise. Each season we offer a curated programme including film, dance, theatre andvisual arts pinned to a theme. Our current topic is mental health and the attitudes and stigmas around it.

In our main exhibition space, the Arthouse, we have commissioned Conversations for Change, an exhibition led by Edinburgh artist Pam van de Brug. She has recorded conversations in public spaces - including a telephone box, a Hibs football match, the Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh's Waverley Station - to generate opinions on the topic of mental health.

Our programme also includes the UK premiere of Fisk, by Tortoise and a Nutshell, a production using puppetry, movement and music to explore depression, dependence and the importance of relationships. Accompanyingthis in ourFilmhouse is Karen Guthrie's documentaryThe CloserWe Get. Karen is exploring the issues raised in the filmwith students and academics at the University of Stirling Social Work department. …

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