Visanich, Valerie: Towards the Social Prescribing of the Arts: The Social Effects of Funding Arts Therapy

In recent years, particularly in the UK, participatory arts have been used and often ‘prescribed’, to tackle mental health issues, loneliness and long-term conditions. The aim of this paper is to explore the social effects of the arts in addressing health, social and economic problems. Thematically, this article examines discourse on the social value of engagement with the arts by referring to ‘arts on prescription’ activities. Methodologically, this article draws from a recent research, commissioned by the Arts Council Malta and Malta’s President’s Foundation for Social Well-being, on evaluating arts funded projects aimed at improving substantially the wellbeing of persons living with challenging conditions in Malta. This research had investigated all the arts funded projects between 2016-2018, under the scheme of President’s Award for Creativity (Premju tal-President ghall-Kreattivita) fund. These projects offered various arts therapeutic sessions to different social groups, involved in various NGOs, experiencing similar life challenges, due to their mental health, disability and age. Results point towards the effectiveness of such initiatives and informs health policy and cultural policy makers on the requirements to implement arts therapy as one of the main services offered by the national health system.