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18 Nov 2022

Wellbeing and Arts, Culture and Creativity in the Waikato

It is with pleasure and excitement that we share the release of the results of the research project we have recently collaborated on with Huber Social.

The “Wellbeing and Arts, Culture and Creativity in the Waikato” report is the result of a community wide survey conducted throughout the region to better understand the impacts of art, culture and creativity on the people who live here. 

What is this project?

We saw an opportunity to support the sector through a programme that would measure the social impact of community engagement with arts, culture and creativity in Waikato. This is important for a number of reasons: It supports ongoing advocacy around the value of arts, culture and creativity in our communities; it helps arts organisations better understand their impact and to support future activity; it provides local information of what is happening in our communities; and it provides evidence to engage with local and national government in their vision to benefit the wellbeing of people in Aotearoa.

As we work towards a vision for a Waikato Region that thrives with diverse and transformative creative activity, we want to support artists and creative organisations to tell their stories about how their creativity has a positive impact on their communities. This means enabling the research and insights, as well as supporting its activation through education and support. 

What did we find?

Arts, culture and creativity play a vital role in a thriving society and touch all facets of our community. In the Waikato, community members engage with arts, culture and creativity every day, sometimes without even realising it. As a result of that ongoing engagement we learned that:

  • Engagement with arts, culture and creativity positively impacts wellbeing
    • On average, Waikato residents who have a high level of engagement with arts, culture and creativity have higher well being than those who have little or no engagement. The more often we attend, create or participate in artistic and cultural events, the higher our wellbeing is likely to be.
  • Access to arts is important to everyone
    • Waikato residents who believe they have greater access to arts, culture and creativity are also more likely to have higher overall wellbeing. This exists for all people, but for those who consider themselves less engaged with the creative sector, perceived access is even more important.
  • Mental wellness is a priority need in Waikato
    • Mental wellness is one of the strongest predictors of overall wellbeing for all Waikato residents, regardless of level of engagement with arts, culture and creativity. There is a wealth of evidence that shows that engagement with arts, culture and creativity is one way of improving mental health outcomes, so encouraging more engagement can contribute to a positive shift.
  • The Waikato community values arts, culture and creativity
    • All Waikato residents recognise the value that arts, culture and creativity contribute to their everyday life, as well as that of their whānau and children.

Data from research report

What else is included?

This is a comprehensive report that provides detailed analysis of the responses we got to survey respondents from throughout the region and from people of all walks of life. With the support of our community partners, we received 989 completed responses, which covers all parts of our region, and across different demographic breakdowns. This has provided us with a great deal of useful information to support our advocacy and to provide a greater depth of understanding of our sector and the wider ecosystem that surrounds us.

The report includes:

  • Overall impacts and the general approach
  • Community impacts and outcomes
  • Creative Sector specific responses
  • Wider wellbeing measures
  • How to use the information
  • And pathways for future work.

We have also created a supplementary report that shares some of the impacts and insights from the views of survey respondents. This provides further insight into key areas of interest, supporting insights and the community voice. 

Finally, there are also supporting reports for our creative sector partner organisations to provide additional insights for their work. 

What is next?

The Creative Waikato team will continue to utilise these insights in our ongoing advocacy work locally, regionally and nationally. We will create opportunities to support community organisations in articulating their own impact and utilising this information to support funding applications and reporting. As part of this, we have collaborated with Huber Social on a community toolkit to unpack these things in further detail, including understanding the theory of change. The community toolkit contains both educational and practical content to support organisations in taking the first steps towards impact measurement. These resources will be available on our website soon.

We will also look to explore further collection of this information on an ongoing basis to understand the trends in our community and to further support a vision for change. We intend to utilise this work to support ongoing systemic change in our sector. These findings highlight the need for greater investment – financial, political and social – in arts, culture and creativity for all Waikato residents, both because of the direct benefits arts and culture offer to wellbeing, as well as their secondary benefits, such as improved mental health outcomes through creative self- expression and greater job satisfaction achieved through creativity in the workplace. This is a great support resource for ongoing positive change.

Please take the time to read through these documents, and please feel free to get in touch with the Creative Waikato team if you have any questions or wish to explore implementing this research further. 

Find the full report here:

Find the support “In Our Words” annex here:

To find out more about next steps for this work please contact: aimee@creativewaikato.co.nz