The following notes accompany our feature article Everything We Know About Whether and How the Arts Improves Lives, published on December 19, 2016:

Methodology for Rating Evidence

We use the following definitions for placement on the graph and for describing benefits in the document.

Does the evidence indicate that the benefit exists?

  • Yes: the majority of the available evidence supports the claim
  • No: the majority of the available evidence opposes the claim
  • Mixed: neither of the above conditions is true

How strong is the quality of the evidence?

  • High: multiple studies with causal designs (experimental or quasi-experimental)
  • Medium: a single study with a causal design, or multiple studies that otherwise make a compelling case for causal interpretation in the judgment of our team
  • Low: neither of the above conditions is met

In cases where the supporting, mixed, and opposing evidence is of differing strength, the stronger evidence is given more weight in determining whether the evidence supports the claim.

In the body of the article, we use the qualifier “probably” to describe effects in the Yes/Medium cell of the matrix, “may” to describe effects in the Yes/Low, No/Low, and all Mixed cells of the matrix, “probably not” to describe effects in the No/Medium cell of the matrix, and “does not” to describe effects in the No/High cell of the matrix.

Note: in general, we support methodological diversity, and are not dogmatic about valuing “gold standard” study designs such as randomized controlled trials at the expense of all other types of research. However, in practice, studies with causal designs tend to be much rarer than descriptive and case-study-based research, and therefore more valuable due to their scarcity and the fact that they are typically more challenging to conduct. In addition, given that the questions explored in this review are inherently causal in nature – can we trust that an activity or intervention makes some kind of benefit more likely – it is appropriate to privilege designs that make a convincing attempt to rule out alternative hypotheses for any observed effects. Our rating of evidence strength takes these considerations into account.

Full Bibliography

Below is a full list of resources which informed this research investigation. Much of our research focused on literature reviews or meta-analyses, and we have included here works that were consulted directly, as well as resources that were encountered within a review and factored into our findings. Works that received a thorough review from Createquity are marked with an asterisk (*).

Arts Council England. (2006). The Power of Art. Visual arts: evidence of impact. Part 2. London. Retrieved from documents/publications/phpOCmaHq.pdf

Arts Council England. (2014). The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society: An Evidence Review. Retrieved from

Arts Midwest, & Metropolitan Group. (2015). Creating Connection: Research Findings and Proposed Message Framework to Build Public Will for Arts and Culture. Retrieved from

Asbury, C. H., & Rich, B. (2008). Learning, arts, and the brain: The dana consortium report on arts and cognition. Dana Press.

Bakhshi, H., Freeman, A., & Higgs, P.. (2013). Dynamic Mapping of The UK’s Creative Industries. NESTA. Retrieved from www.nesta.

Baxter, C., Tyler, P., Moore, B., Morrison, N., McGaffin, R., & Otero-Garcia, M. (2005). Enterprising Places: Sustaining Competitive Locations for Knowledge-Based Business. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge–MIT Institute.

BOP Consulting. (2011). Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study. Final Report. London. Retrieved from resources/downloads/get/56.pdf

*Brown, A. (2006). An Architecture of Value. GIA Reader, 17(1). Retrieved from

Brown, E. D., & Sax, K. L. (2013). Arts enrichment and preschool emotions for low-income children at risk. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(2), 337–346.

Bygren, L. O., Johansson, S.-E., Konlaan, B. B., Grjibovski, A. M., Wilkinson, A. V., & Sjöström, M. (2009). Attending cultural events and cancer mortality: A Swedish cohort study. Arts & Health, 1(1), 64–73.

Carnwath, J. D., & Brown, A. S. (2014). Understanding the Value and Impacts of Cultural Experiences: A Literature Review. WolfBrown and Arts Council England. Retrieved from

CASE programme: understanding the drivers, impacts and value of engagement in culture and sport. (2010). Retrieved from

CEBR. (2013). The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy. London. Retrieved from report_web_version_0513.pdf

Clarke, E., DeNora, T., & Vuoskoski, J. (n.d.). Music, Empathy, and Cultural Understanding. 2014: Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Clawson, H. J., & Coolbaugh, K. (2001). The YouthARTS Development Project. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from

Clift, S, Hancox, G, Morrison, I, Hess, B, Stewart, D, & Kreutz, G. (2008). Choral Singing, Wellbeing and Health: Summary of Findings from a Cross-national Survey. Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University. Retrieved from https://www.canterbury. documents/choral-singing-summary-report.pdf

Clift, S., Skingley, A., Coulton, S., & Rodriguez, J. (2012). A controlled evaluation of the health benefits of a participative community singing programme for older people (Silver Song Clubs). Sidney De Haan

*Crossick, G., & Kaszynska, P. (2016). Understanding the Value of Arts and Culture: The AHRC Cultural Value Project. United Kingdom: Arts & Humanities Research Council. Retrieved from

Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, Folkestone, Kent, UK. Canterbury Christ Church University, Folkestone, Kent, UK: Retrieved from http://www. Ahsw. Org. uk/userfiles/Other_Resources/SSCRCTsummaryreportOct12. Pdf

Daykin, N., & Byrne, E. (2006). The impact of visual arts and design on the health and wellbeing of patients and staff in mental health care: A systematic review of the literature. University of the West of England.

Development Services Group, Inc. (2016). Arts-Based Programs and Arts Therapies for At-Risk, Justice-Involved, and Traumatized Youths. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from

Education Endowment Foundation. (2016). Hallé SHINE on Manchester: Evaluation report and executive summary. Retrieved from

Everitt, A., Hamilton, R., & White, M. (2003). Arts, health and community: A study of five arts in community health projects. University of Durham.

Falck, O., Fritsch, M., & Heblich, S. (2011). The phantom of the opera: Cultural amenities, human capital, and regional economic growth. Labour Economics, 18(6), 755–766.

Feldman, A. F., & Matjasko, J. L. (2005). The Role of School-Based Extracurricular Activities in Adolescent Development: A Comprehensive Review and Future Directions. Review of Educational Research, 75(2), 159–210.

Fujiwara, D. (2013). Museums and Happiness: The Value of Participating in Museums and the Arts (The Happy Museum). Retrieved from

*Fujiwara, D., Kudrna, L., & Dolan, P. (2014a). Quantifying and Valuing the Wellbeing Impacts of Culture and Sport. Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Retrieved from

*Fujiwara, D., Kudrna, L., & Dolan, P. (2014b). Quantifying the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport. Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Retrieved from

Garrod, B. (2014). Investigating the role of Eisteddfodau in creating and transmitting cultural value in Wales and beyond. Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Gerry, D., Unrau, A., & Trainor, L. J. (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development: Active music classes enhance development. Developmental Science, 15(3), 398–407.

Giordano, P. C., Cernkovich, S. A., & Rudolph, J. L. (2002). Gender, crime, and desistance: Toward a theory of cognitive transformation1. American Journal of Sociology, 107(4), 990–1064.

Graham, G., Chattopadhyay, S., & Lakhanpal, J.R. (2014). Using New Metrics to Assess the Role of the Arts in Well-Being: Some Initial Results from the Economics of Happiness. The Brookings Institute. Retrieved from

Greene, J. P., Kisida, B., & Bowen, D. H. (2014). The educational value of field trips. Education Next, 14(1).

Grodach, C., Foster, N., & Murdoch III, J. (2014). Gentrification and the artistic dividend: the role of the arts in neighborhood change. Journal of the American Planning Association, 80(1), 21–35.

Grossi, E., Blessi, G. T., Sacco, P. L., & Buscema, M. (2012). The interaction between culture, health and psychological well-being: Data mining from the Italian culture and well-being project. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(1), 129–148.

Guetzkow, J. (2002). How the Arts Impact Communities: An introduction to the literature on arts impact studies. Presented at the Taking the Measure of Culture Conference, Princeton University: Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. Retrieved from

Hacking, S., Secker, J., Spandler, H., Kent, L., & Shenton, J. (2008). Evaluating the impact of participatory art projects for people with mental health needs. Health & Social Care in the Community, 16(6), 638–648.

Hancock, M. R. (1993). Character journals: Initiating involvement and identification through literature. Journal of Reading, 37(1), 42–50.

Hervas-Olivier, J., & others. (2011). The Importance of Creative Industries Agglomerations in Explaining the Wealth of European Regions. DRUID. Retrieved from papers/3u3ov4ld8gx1uvxa4pgddeivjeg5.pdf

Hesmondhalgh, D., & Pratt, A. (2005). Cultural industries

Hetland, L., & Winner, E. (2001). The arts and academic achievement: What the evidence shows. Arts Education Policy Review, 102(5), 3–6.

Holden, J. (2006). Cultural value and the crisis of legitimacy. Demos London.

Hyyppä, M. T., Mäki, J., Impivaara, O., & Aromaa, A. (2006). Leisure participation predicts survival: a population-based study in Finland. Health Promotion International, 21(1), 5–12.

Ings, R., Crane, N., & Cameron, M. (2012). Be Creative Be Well. Arts, wellbeing and local communities. An evaluation. London: Arts Council England. Retrieved from

*Jackson, M. R., & Herranz, J. (2002). Culture Counts in Communities: A Framework for Measurement (Research Report). The Urban Institute. Retrieved from

*Jackson, M. R., Kabwasa-Green, F., & Herranz, J. (2006). Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators. The Urban Institute. Retrieved from

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. (2010). Soul of the Community – Overall Findings. Retrieved from

Jones, S. (2010). Culture shock. London: Demos.

Kattenstroth, J.C., Kalisch, T., Holt, S., Tegenthoff, M., & Dinse, H. R. (2013). Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 5, 5.

Kay, A. (2000). Art and community development: the role the arts have in regenerating communities. Community Development Journal, 35(4), 414–424.

Kay, A., & Watt, G. (2000). The role of the arts in regeneration. Scottish Executive.

Kidd, D. C., & Castano, E. (2013). Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, 342(6156), 377–380.

Konlaan, B. B., Bygren, L. O., & Johansson, S.-E. (2000). Visiting the cinema, concerts, museums or art exhibitions as determinant of survival: a Swedish fourteen-year cohort follow-up. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 28(3), 174–178.

Lambert, C. (2014). The Value of Live Art: experience, politics and affect. Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Lobo, Y. B., & Winsler, A. (2006). The effects of a creative dance and movement program on the social competence of head start preschoolers. Social Development, 15(3), 501–519.

Lowe, S. S. (2000). Creating community art for community development. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 29(3), 357–386.

Manchester, M, & Pett, E. (n.d.). Teenage Kicks: Exploring cultural value from a youth perspective. Arts & Humanities Research Council.

*Mark J. Stern. (2007). Culture and Urban Revitalization: A Harvest Document. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from

*Markusen, A., & Gadwa, A. (2010). Arts and culture in urban or regional planning: A review and research agenda. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 29(3), 379–391.

Martin, A. J., Mansour, M., Anderson, M., Gibson, R., Liem, A., & Sudmalis, D. (2013). The Role of Arts Participation in Students’ Academic and Nonacademic Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study of School, Home, and Community Factors. ResearchGate, 105(3), 709–727.

*Matarasso, F. (1997). Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts. Comedia. Retrieved from

*McCarthy, K., Ondaatje, E., Zakaras, L., Brooks, A., & RAND. (2004). Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts. RAND. Retrieved from

McLean, J., Woodhouse, A., Goldie, I., Chylarova, E., & Williamson, T. (2011). An evidence review of the impact of participatory arts on older people. Edinburgh: Mental Health Foundation. Luettu, 16, 2013.

Medeiros, K. de, & Basting, A. (2014). “Shall I Compare Thee to a Dose of Donepezil?”: Cultural Arts Interventions in Dementia Care Research. The Gerontologist, 54(3), 344–353.

Medvedeva, M., Novak-Leonard, J., Brown, A,. (2011). Audience Impact Study: Literature Review. WolfBrown and the National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved from

*Menzer, M. (2015). The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Participation. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved from

Morley, E., & Winkler, M.K.. (2014). The Validating Arts & Livability Indicators (VALI) Study: Results and Recommendations. Urban Institute. Retrieved from

*National Endowment for the Arts. (2012). How Art Works. Retrieved from

National Endowment for the Arts. (2013). The Arts and Aging: Building the Science.

Newman, M., Bird, K., Tripney, J., Kalra, N., Kwan, I., Bangpan, M., & Vigurs, C. (2010). Understanding the impact of engagement in culture and sport: A systematic review of the learning impacts for young people. Retrieved from

Nicolopoulou, A., Barbosa de Sá, A., Ilgaz, H., & Brockmeyer, C. (2009). Using the Transformative Power of Play to Educate Hearts and Minds: From Vygotsky to Vivian Paley and Beyond. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 17(1), 42–58.

Niemi, L. (2014). The Arts & Economic Vitality: relationships between the Arts, entrepreneurship, & innovation in the workplace (working paper). Washington, DC: NEA. Retrieved from BostonCollege.pdf

*Noice, T., Noice, H., & Kramer, A. F. (2013). Participatory Arts for Older Adults: A Review of Benefits and Challenges. The Gerontologist, gnt138.

Pajaczkowska, C. (n.d.). Empathy by Design. Arts & Humanities Research Council. Retrieved from

Petrie, K. J., Fontanilla, I., Thomas, M. G., Booth, R. J., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2004). Effect of written emotional expression on immune function in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection: a randomized trial. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(2), 272–275.

Putnam, R. D. (1994). What makes democracy work? Review-Institute of Public Affairs, 47(1), 31.

Reynolds, J, Hetherington, J., O’Sullivan, A, Clayton, K, & Holmes, J.. (2014). The story of Lidice and Stoke-on-Trent: towards deeper understandings of the role of arts and culture. Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Ritblatt, S., Longstreth, S., Hokoda, A., Cannon, B.-N., & Weston, J. (2013b). Can music enhance school-readiness socioemotional skills? Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 27(3), 257–266.

Roger Tym & Partners. (2011). Economic Impact of the Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium. Manchester. Retrieved from uploads/2011/10/LARC-Economic-Impact-Final-Report.pdf

Sacco, P.L. (2013, October). Culture 3.0: the impact of culture on social and economic development, & how to measure it. Presented at the Scientific Support for Growth and Jobs: cultural and creative industries conference, Brussels.

Särkämö, T., Tervaniemi, M., Laitinen, S., Forsblom, A., Soinila, S., Mikkonen, M., … others. (2008). Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke. Brain, 131(3), 866–876.

Schellenberg, E. G. (2004). Music Lessons Enhance IQ. Psychological Science, 15(8), 511–514.

Scottish Government, S. A. H. (2006, January 20). Quality of Life and Well-being: Measuring the Benefits of Culture and Sport: Literature Review and Thinkpiece [Research Publications]. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from

See, H. B, & Dimitra Kokotsaki, D. (2016). Impact of arts education on the cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of school-aged children. Durham University and the Education Endowment Foundation. Retrieved from

*Sheppard, S.C, Oehler, K., Benjamin, B., & Kessler, A.. (2006). Culture and Revitalization: The Economic Effects of MASS MoCA on its Community (No. C3 D Report NA3.2006). North Adams, MA: Center for Creative Community Development. Retrieved from

*Staricoff, R. L. (2004). Arts in health: a review of the medical literature. Arts Council England London. Retrieved from

*Stern, M. J., & Susan C Seifert. (2013). Cultural Ecology, Neighborhood Vitality, and Social Wellbeing – A Philadelphia Project. University of Pennsylvania Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP). Retrieved from

Taylor, P, Davies, L., Christy, E, Cooley, E., Taylor, A., Jones,R, Dumas, V. (2015). The Social Benefits of Engagement with Culture and Sport. London: DCMS. Retrieved from system/uploads/attachment_data/file/416279/A_review_of_ the_Social_Impacts_of_Culture_and_Sport.pdf

*Tepper, S. (2014). Artful living: Examining the relationship between artistic practice and subjective wellbeing across three national surveys. The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from

The Cultural Learning Alliance. (2011). Key Research Findings: The Case for Cultural Learning. Retrieved from

The National Endowment for the Arts. (2011). The Arts and Human Development. Retrieved from

Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Does beauty build adapted minds? Toward an evolutionary theory of aesthetics, fiction, and the arts. SubStance, 30(1), 6–27.

*Topos Partnership for the Fine Arts Fund. (n.d.). The Arts Ripple Effect: A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts. Retrieved from

Trüby, J., Rammer, C., Müller, K., & others. (2008). The role of creative industries in industrial Innovation. ZEW-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung/Center for European Economic Research. Retrieved from

Verghese, J., Lipton, R. B., Katz, M. J., Hall, C. B., Derby, C. A., Kuslansky, G., … Buschke, H. (2003). Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(25), 2508–2516.

Vlismas, W., Malloch, S., & Burnham, D. (2013). The effects of music and movement on mother–infant interactions. Early Child Development and Care, 183(11), 1669–1688.

Wolf, D. (2016). Why Making Music Matters: WolfBrown and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Retrieved from

*Wali, A., Severson, R., & Longoni, M. (2002). Informal Arts: Finding cohesion, capacity, and other cultural benefits in unexpected places. The Chicago Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College. Retrieved from

Weinberg, M. K., & Joseph, D. (2016). If you’re happy and you know it: Music engagement and subjective wellbeing. Psychology of Music, 305735616659552.

*What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth. (2016). Evidence Review 3: Arts and Culture. Retrieved from

Wheatley, D., & Bickerton, C. (2016). Subjective well-being and engagement in arts, culture and sport. Journal of Cultural Economics, 1–23.

Winter, T. (2014). A Somatic Ethnography of Grand Gestures Elders Dance Group (Project Report No. AH/L005638/1). Sunderland: University of Sunderland. Retrieved from

Zeilig, H. (2014). The arts in dementia care – A critical review of cultural and arts practices in dementia care in the UK. Arts & Humanities Research Council.