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Research and evidence

Here you’ll find key downloadable research, evidence and resources from New Zealand and internationally.



New Zealand research and evidence

Findings of creative spaces research

Understanding the Value of Creative Spaces, Ministry For Culture and Heritage, 2019

This report presents key findings from a survey of creative spaces, intended to provide key decision-makers and agencies with information about the sector to better understand how the sector operates, the services it provides and to whom. 

Link: Understanding the Value of Creative Spaces 

The arts in health evidence review

The arts in health evidence review, Susan Bidwell for Pegasus Health Ltd, 2014

 This report provides an overview of international evidence demonstrating the value of the arts within health contexts, especially mental health. It concludes that the arts are less developed in New Zealand and worthy of further investigation and investment.
Link: Arts in health evidence review

New Zealanders and the Arts

New Zealanders and the Arts, Creative New Zealand, 2017

This report highlights findings from Creative New Zealand’s triennial national survey of participation in and attitudes to the arts. The report, which highlights links between arts participation and wellbeing, is one of a series which focus on adult populations, youth and geographical locations.

Link: Survey reports can be found here


Review of the Henderson Youth Art Project

Kakano: A review of the Henderson Youth Art Project to determine its effectiveness in engaging disenfranchised young people in further education. 2016.

Evaluation report prepared for the Unitec Research and Enterprise team, written by Dr Bronwen Gray with assistance from Paul Woodruff and Mandy Patmore. It highlights the wellbeing, educational and community building benefits of the Kakano youth engagement project for "disenfranchised young people" based at Corban Estate Arts Centre.

Download: Kakano report Unitec 

What does art have to do with public health, and how can they work together? 

What does art have to do with public health, and how can they work together? Ombler, J. & Donovan, S., 2017

Link: Public Health Expert blog

The Potential of Creative Arts as a Medium for Mental Health Promotion in Schools

The Potential of Creative Arts as a Medium for Mental Health Promotion in Schools: An exploration of meaning-making, belonging and identity using creative processes. Patricia Morgan, for the NZ Mental Health Foundation

This report explores the potential of creative art processes as a medium for mental health promotion in schools, ultimately supporting emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Link: Download report

Looking for the blue, the yellow, all the colours of the rainbow

Looking for the blue, the yellow, all the colours of the rainbow: the value of participatory arts for young people in social work practice. Walls, A., K. L. Deane, and P. O’Connor. 2016. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work 28, no. 4: 67-79

This article highlights the outcomes of a University of Auckland PhD, researching the value of creative participation for young people experiencing mental health challenges.

Link: Download article

Who is responsible? Neoliberal discourses of well-being in Australia and New Zealand

Who is Responsible? Neoliberal discourses of well-being in Australia and New Zealand. Drama Australia Journal. NJ, DOI Freebody, K., Mullen, M., Walls, A., O’Connor, P. 2018

Link: Download article

Arts, health and wellbeing panel discussion, Te Papa  

Arts, health and wellbeing panel discussion, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, May 2018

Panelists from science, health, education and the arts explore how the relationship between the arts and health can offer diverse and dynamic settings for expressive restorative, educational, and therapeutic benefits. The panel was curated by Tiffany Singh to coincide with her exhibition Indra’s bow and total internal reflection.

Link: Listen to panel discussion

Short film about Gapfiller

Canterbury region - Canterbury earthquakes and rebuild, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

This is a short video about Gapfiller, a Christchurch organisation that emerged out of the Canterbury earthquakes and has become well-known for a multitude of imaginative projects turning empty gaps where buildings once stood into places of creativity and connection.

Link: Watch the video, courtesy of Jacob Stanley 

Earthquake: Teaspoon of Light

This short film highlights the work of Prof. Peter O’Connor, Dr Molly Mullen and local artists who used applied theatre to work with children and teachers in primary schools to build hope and resilience following the Canterbury earthquakes.

Link: Watch the video

Evaluation for Otautahi Creative Spaces Trust, Ihi Research, 2017

This report provides a comprehensive evaluation of a Christchurch arts for mental health programme and highlights significant positive impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of participants. Analysis by Ihi Research and Development shows how the programme has helped participants become more connected and resilient with improved social skills.

Link:  Download report

Sistema Aotearoa Outcome Evaluation, Kinnect group, 2015

This report from a music education programme run in primary schools in low socio-economic areas of South Auckland demonstrates wide-ranging benefits, including positive identity, enhanced social connections, community inclusion and participation. The project is based on the El Sistema model, initiated in Venezuela in 1975 and is now one of the world’s most successful youth development and social transformation movements.

Link: Download report

Gapfiller case study

This is a report about Gapfiller, the arts organisation that emerged in response to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010/11 and addressed community wellbeing  through a multitude of interactive projects, installations and volunteerism.

Link: Download report

New Zealand dissertations

Blomkamp, E. 2014. Meanings and Measures of Urban Cultural Policy:  Local Government, Art and Community Wellbeing in Australia and New Zealand

PhD Thesis, University of Auckland, New Zealand. For more

Green, D. 2016. Quake destruction/ arts creation: arts therapy and the Canterbury earthquakes

(Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Auckland, New Zealand.  For more 

Mullen, M. 2014. Managing applied theatre: Negotiating tangled webs and navigating murky terrain. 

For more

O’Connor, P. 2003. Reflection and Refraction: The Dimpled Mirror of Process Drama: How Process Drama Assists People to Reflect on Their Attitudes and Behaviours Associated with Mental Illness.

PhD Thesis. For more


Worley, R., P. 2016. Speak the words ki au nei: The intersection between Spoken Word Poetry and Public Health.

(Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Auckland. New Zealand. For more

Abstracts of MA in Arts Therapy Research: 2003 – 2015, Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design

New Zealand. Document listing all dissertations are held in Parkyn Library, Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design, Auckland, New Zealand).
Download: MA Arts Therapy Research 2003-2015 

International research and evidence

Key research reports

Creative health: The arts for health and wellbeing, APPGAHW, 2017

This report is the culmination of the significant UK-based All Party Parliamentary Inquiry on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. The report highlights a diverse, dynamic and interdisciplinary body of national practice and makes a powerful case for the wellbeing benefits of the arts in everyday life, plus social and healthcare contexts.

Link: Download the report from this page

Social Prescribing. A Review of Community Referral Schemes, Thomson, Camic and Chatterjee, 2015

Review of the now widely available arts on referral schemes in the UK, which link GP/health service patients with non-medical, arts-based sources of support in the community.

Link: Download the review

Art and Wellbeing: a guide to the connections between community cultural development and health, ecologically sustainable development, public housing and place, rural revitalisation, community strengthening, active citizenship, social inclusion and cultural diversity. Mills and Brown for the Australia Council for the Arts, 2004

This guide offers case studies demonstrating the connections between arts participation and individual and community wellbeing.
Link: Download the guide

Arts and culture in health and wellbeing and in the criminal justice system: Scoping the evidence base. Arts Council England, 2018

An overview of the evidence base supporting the potential contribution of the arts in the criminal justice system, alongside exploration of related ideas, practices and challenges.
Link: Download the report

Be Creative, Be Well: Arts, wellbeing and local communities: An evaluation, 2012

This report produced for Arts Council England documents the learning from a large London-wide programme using the arts to promote wellbeing in diverse ways communities.
Link: Download the report

Art prevents loneliness, Arts Equal, 2016

This policy brief produced in Finland notes that the arts have been found to contribute to wellbeing broadly. It advocates for arts and cultural organisations to co-opt the arts to assist in the fight against the problem of loneliness.
Link: Download the policy brief

Art enhances wellbeing at work, Arts Equal, 2017

This policy brief produced in Finland offers insights into use of the arts within workplace communities to promote wellbeing, productivity, and help to combat stress and burnout.
Link: Download the policy brief

Art and Well-being. Toward a culture of health. US Department of Arts and Culture, 2018

This is a comprehensive overview of ideas, initiatives and examples of practice related to the arts in healthcare, and arts for wellbeing in the US and internationally.
Link: Download this free guide

Arts and Health: A guide to the evidence. Arts and Health Foundation Australia. Christine Putland, 2012

This is a 10-page background document prepared for the Arts and Health Foundation Australia

Link: Download Arts and Health document


Repository for arts and health resources 

This site is for anyone interested in the field of arts, health and wellbeing, but particularly academics and researchers; policy-makers in central and local government; health and social care managers, and creative arts professionals engaged directly in using their artistic skills in healthcare and community settings to support health and wellbeing.

Link: Visit the repository 


Creative ageing

Towards the End. The Baring Foundation’s Arts and Older People programme 2010-2017, David Cutler, Baring Foundation, 2017

This report highlights the evidence case for the value of the arts in lives of older people, and provides illustrative examples of the UK Baring Foundation’s grant aided Creative Ageing initiatives.
Link: Download the report

Creative Ageing. A Practical Exploration of the Arts in the Healthcare of Older People. Report for the Changing Ageing Partnership, Belfast, 2010

This report focused on creative work in two health and social care centres in Belfast to explore how arts-based activities can be activated to compliment traditional healthcare programmes and improve wellbeing amongst older people living with dementia. The report identifies multiple benefits for older people and for practitioners and the institution.
Link: Download the report

An Evidence Review of the Impact of Participatory Arts on Older people. Mental Health Foundation, 2011

This report was commissioned by the UK Baring Foundation to identify and draw together a growing evidence base affirming the positive impact participatory arts can have on the health and wellbeing of older people.
Link: Download the report


Living national treasure – arts and older people in Japan. David Cutler for The Baring Foundation

This report offers a flavour of inspirational creative work with older people in Japan. It was commissioned to inform Creative Ageing as an emerging field of practice.
Link: Download the report


Young people

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. 

Link: Download the report


The arts, health and wellbeing. Why the arts make us happier and healthier. Briefing paper No. 3. Cultural Learning Alliance, 2018

This briefing paper produced in the UK offers a brief and informative overview of key ideas and evidence demonstrating how the arts contribute to young people’s wellbeing.
Link: Download the briefing paper


The Impact of Creative Partnerships on the Wellbeing of Children and Young People. Final Report to Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), Ross McLellan, Maurice Galton, Susan Stewart, Charlotte Page, University of Cambridge, 2012

This report was commissioned to evaluate the impact of the seminal 10 year UK Creative Partnerships schools programme on students wellbeing. It provides a comprehensive overview of outcomes, practices, challenges and related theories.
Link: Download Impact of Creative Partnerships report

Summer Arts Colleges Evaluation Report, 2007-11. Roger Tarling, University of Surrey and Maree Adams, 2012

This report presents positive outcomes achieved through the UK Summer Arts Colleges, a major strategic partnership between the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and Arts Council England (ACE). ‘High risk’ young people were involved in intensive full-time summer arts programmes seeking to build interpersonal, literacy and numeracy skills, re-engage participants with education and reduce offending.
Link: Download Summer Arts Colleges evaluation report



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