Research report release: Creative Practice for Youth Wellbeing in Aotearoa|New Zealand: Mapping the ecosystem in Tāmaki Makaurau|Auckland
There is a substantial and growing body of evidence for the ways in which participation in the arts can contribute to the wellbeing of young people. Fortunately, Tāmaki Makaurau|Auckland is home to diverse, innovative and creatively rich arts and wellbeing practices specifically for youth. However, the current policy and funding context presents significant, deep-seated challenges for artists and organisations working in this area of the arts, impacting on growth, sustainability and positive impact. These are some of the findings from a research project conducted by the Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre (CRUAT) at the University of Auckland.
The research came about through a conversation between practitioners, researchers and funders, who came together for a focus group about research and evaluation practices in community-based arts. For those working in or involved in supporting the sector, it seemed clear that there was excellent work happening, but significant systemic issues were limiting the potential of this area of arts practice and preventing it from flourishing. There was a need to know more about who was doing what, with what resources and what challenges were most pressing. The Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre (CRUAT) subsequently set out to develop a research project that would generate insights into community-based arts practices in Aotearoa and the specific challenges being experienced by organisations and groups. To keep the scope of this initial project manageable, a focus on participatory youth arts in the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland SuperCity region was established.
The research included an online survey of organisations in the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland supercity region who provide arts-based activities with wellbeing goals for young people aged 12-24. The report also includes a review of local and international literature about conceptions of wellbeing and the relationship between participatory arts and wellbeing.
This research provides new insights into theories, practices, and evidence within this low-profile and under-researched field. These insights will inform further research and/or the development of a longer-term strategy designed to enhance the profile, impact and recognition of organisations using the arts to promote youth health and wellbeing in Aotearoa.
The Creative Practice for Youth Wellbeing in Aotearoa|New Zealand: Mapping the ecosystem in Tāmaki Makaurau|Auckland report was prepared by staff of the Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre at the University of Auckland. The research team was Amber Walls, Dr Molly Mullen, Dr Stephen McTaggart and Professor Peter O’Connor.