A joint venture between the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London has been awarded £1 million for a new research project on the arts and health.

The HEartS project will explore the impact of the arts and culture on health and wellbeing, from individual, social, and economic perspectives.

One area the team will study is the link between cultural pursuits – like joining a choir, learning an instrument, or attending art classes – and health and wellbeing in society. The work is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Previously, smaller arts intervention studies have found links between cultural participation, good health, and lower mortality rates. However, to date there have been few larger-scale studies involving the arts across the UK. The study will gather new empirical and qualitative data over three years.

HEartS will investigate:

  • The effect of arts and cultural pursuits on health and wellbeing.
  • How the arts support health.
  • The financial value of engaging with the arts in relation to health.
  • How and why these effects might vary among different people.

To support the core team, the researchers have established strategic partnerships with a range of public health and arts organisations. Public health partners include Public Health England, NHS Health Scotland, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, the Royal Society for Public Health and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. Arts partners include Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Creative Scotland, Conservatoires UK (which includes eleven performing arts HEIs), Sage Gateshead, Beamish and Tunbridge Wells museums, The Ambassador Theatre Group, Rambert Dance Company and Akademi South Asian Dance.

Other cultural pursuits the researchers will explore include going to museums, galleries, and concerts.

HEartS is run by the Centre for Perfomance Science.

Supported by

Project team

Aaron Williamon

Daisy Fancourt (University College London)

Marissa Miraldo (Imperial College)

Rosie Perkins

Robert Perneczky (Imperial College)


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