ixia: public art think tank

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Date uploaded: March 14, 2012


Clive Parkinson, Director of Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University

Commissioned and published by ixia

It’s Olympic year, and as the UK gears up for the ‘ultimate national well-being campaign’ and we invest millions of pounds in sports and culture, we are constantly told that the arts are a force for good, nurturing civic pride and engendering happiness. But is the drive for happiness in danger of skewing our understanding of well-being, and whilst we lavish money on the Olympics in a time of global austerity, some of us question the prescription of culture for happiness - aren’t the arts more than that? And if they offer something more than a quick-hit, how is it that the quality of life of our older citizens is often institutionally neglected; worse still, those affected by dementia are relegated to ‘warehouses of the dying’? This essay explores the relationship between art in the public realm and well-being. Clive Parkinson investigates public art's sometimes superficiality and its occasional potential to question societal norms, with blistering potency.

About the author:
Clive Parkinson is the director of Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University. Whilst Arts for Health is seen as the originator of the global arts and health movement, he sees that same movement as something that is coming of age, but with that maturity of age, he suggests, comes the need to challenge our own silos of practice and sometimes deluded self-belief. The Arts/Health agenda of the 21st Century needs to be nuanced and expansive, reflecting contemporary society, warts and all.

Click here to download the essay.(816 KB)