The benefits of participating in the arts and crafts are so obvious to those who participate that they almost become invisible. In these days of social, economic and environment uncertainty, it is worth considering how the benefits of participation can help underpin a more sustainable way of living.
All Round Benefits
On an individual level, the enjoyment and pleasure gained from participating in arts and crafts activities creates an all round sense of wellbeing and happiness, reduces stress and anxiety and even helps healing in times of ill health. Participation increases self confidence and self esteem and so improves people’s personal lives and their ability to make social connections – friendship is a vital element of fulfilled and health living. All these factors are cited as good indicators of quality of life.
Engaging in social interaction through group arts activity is also important because it increases network, co-operation and partnerships and enables individuals to gain new skills like team work, negotiation, communication and administration. As a result they become capable of setting up new activities and groups in the community – all of which contributes to local self reliance and strengthens community co-operation.
Creative citizens are more likely to recognise synergies, make innovative connections and use their knowledge and skills in ways that add cultural, social, political and economic value to their communities. Participation in the arts and crafts therefore helps to foster people’s engagement in the wider civic process and to form and develop the sort of communities they want to stay in
Significantly too, the voluntary arts and craft arena provide a means for people to share their culture with others, thereby promoting harmony, understanding, tolerance and co-operation between different communities.
Voluntary arts and crafts activities can encourage sociability in areas where social connection has been eliminated by poverty, crime and mistrust – local arts groups enable people to become involved in community activities that are affordable, close to home, in a neutral and safe environment and appropriate to the backgrounds and aspirations of the participants.
Similarly, engagement in the voluntary arts plays an important role in celebrating and preserving local cultures, traditions and heritage which helps to strengthen local identify. Residents who feel good about where they live are more likely to become involved in new community schemes including environmental improvements.