Create and Connect: The Social Health Benefits of Creativity!
Creative activity has a long history of being done in community with other people!
Artistic traditions around the world have master-artist-apprentice relationships, craftsman guilds, groups of artists and societies who work side by side swapping creative ideas, techniques, tools of the trade, and most notably social engagement and comradery. Just like Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh (along with Paul Cézanne, and Emily Bernard), Canada’s own Group of Seven, or even our own local Artists in the Village Society and South Delta Artists Guild, artists get together to discuss their opinions and share their art. The social health benefits of creativity are not a new concept, people have been experiencing it for years!
Doing something creative with others is not simply something we do for fun, it’s good for us too!
Those that create in the presence of others are:
- More likely to have wider social networks
- More likely to have a sense of purpose and belonging in a group
- More likely to have a reduced sense of social isolation and marginalization
This is just the beginning of the social benefits of creativity! Let’s look at one of the groups that makes up a large part of South Delta, and is near and dear to our hearts: seniors.
The Importance of Creative arts for at Risk Populations: Seniors
Seniors have been classified as a high risk population for social isolation. Initiatives such as The Arts and Health Project: Healthy Aging Through The Arts recognize the role creative arts play in the health of seniors. Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation along with other associations and local communities, collaborated on this project to encourage and develop creative arts programs for seniors to benefit their overall sense of wellbeing and belonging. Below is a link to a video giving you a taste of what the project is all about!
Specifically for seniors, doing something creative enhances quality of life and provide the following benefits:
- Less need for medications
- Fewer visits to the doctor
- Reduction in loneliness
- Increase in daily activities
- Better physical health
- Better morale
- Wider social network to draw from in times of need
The social health benefits of creativity are wide and far reaching, especially for seniors! See this great graphic on Creative Aging by Arts and Health Network Canada that explains this these points further. Not a senior? There’s great benefits for you too, read on!
Here are a few things that you can do right now to experience the social health benefits of creativity!
- Join a club, guild, society, or group based on your own creative interests (creative writing club, pottery guild, book club, artist’s group). It’s likely you’ll meet a wide range of people who have a passion for the same things you do and who can also teach you something new! Try social sites like Facebook or MeetUp to find a group based on your own creative interests and geographical area.
- If you’re not quite at the face-to-face meet and greet stage, join an online/virtual community based around your particular creative interest (a photography board, a scrapbooking site). This allows you to post pictures of your creations, get feedback, search for ideas on your next project, and ask questions about particular techniques. As long as you are contributing and participating in this virtual community the social health benefits are there.
- Incorporate creative play into your social life! Switch it up and skip the movies! What about playing some board games with your family and friends for some laugh-out loud-fun? Pictionary, Teletrations, and Cranium are great games that use words to spur on drawing or sculpting actions. Here is a list of a few other games that use storytelling and words that will really get your creative juices flowing and have your group howling with laughter!
Our Open Studio Sessions Promote Social Interaction
Social interaction is the foundation for the social health benefits of creativity. If you are not already aware, our Open Studio Sessions are quite different than your typical art class and here’s how:
- Our Open Studio Sessions are for all ages
- So many artistic programs are segregated based on age, which makes it hard for many do to art together. Our program is open to anyone of any age!
- This means that families who have children with different age-ranges can make art together, grandparents can make art alongside their grandchildren, and even friends or spouses can come for a night out or bring their parents for a special time together.
- We are all about creating an environment where creativity is being shared cross-generationally.
- We have a special rates for kids under 13, families, and seniors!
- Our Open Studio Sessions are open to anyone and inclusive of all abilities
- We encourage people who have different physical, medical, mental, emotional, and developmental abilities to attend our sessions and work alongside each other. The social health benefits of creativity are especially important across ages and abilities.
- Community programs are wonderful for accommodating their target population, but most can only offer programs based on age and diagnosis. This prevents people with different diagnoses and ages from spending time with each other in creative and social environments. Families, siblings and close friends may also have a limited opportunity to do something together.
- We want to promote an environment of inclusion by giving people of all abilities a place to meet and mingle with others who are both similar and different from them.
- We also want to give much needed respite support to caregivers by offering them a place to unwind and do something creative!
- If you are on Income Assistance or Persons With Disability benefits, your sessions are half-price, and personal attendants are free!
- Our Open Studio Sessions are flexible
- We have no expiry date on gift cards for Open Studio Sessions, and our sessions run every Monday evening and Wednesday during the day. Other art programs often have a set number of classes, rigid schedule, and fees where your payments expire.
- We understand that because we are social beings, life gets busy and sometimes other things (mental health issues, chronic pain, travel, children) may get in the way of attending sessions regularly. This is why we have such a flexible program, and why our multi-session gift cards have no expiry date.
- Being part of a community means creating activities around community needs and this is what we have tried to do.
- Our Open Studio Sessions cater to a variety of interests
- We know that people all have different interests so we have stocked our art studio with a wide variety of art materials that you can choose from during your visit. You can socialized with your loved ones, or meet new people while working on something that is completely unique and of interest to you! You can even switch to something else whenever you want.
- We offer gentle guidance and instruction during art sessions at the beginning of each class.
- Here are a few of the things we have in our art studio:
- Acrylic paint (Kroma Paint from Granville Island), oil paint and tempera paint
- Water-colour crayons, pencil crayons, pens, liquid and pallet paint
- Scrapbooking paper, punches, and other accessories
- Oil and chalk pastels
- Beads and jewellery making accessories
- Huge assortment of drawing implements pens, pencils, ink pens, markers, crayons, pencil crayons, geometry kits, shapes and templates
- Adult Colouring books, how-to books on techniques, books on calligraphy and lettering, on contemporary and historical artists
- Large assortment of still life objects and images for creative inspiration
- Variety of paper, canvas board, cardboard suitable to use for pen, sketching, water-colour, tracing, pastel and charcoal. Bring your own canvas or purchase one for nominal fee
- Scratch board
- Lino-cut and soft-cut printmaking
- Wood-burning tools. Bring your own wooden object or select from ones from our collection for a nominal fee
- Air-drying clay
- Magic sand and white-sand
- Assortment of kid-friendly craft materials for collage
- More creative arts activities are available — if what you are interested in is not on our list, just ask!
- Special Interest Classes
- We have started to develop programing geared towards the interests and tastes of our community.
- Our Be Inspired Spring Break Camp is providing an opportunity for kids to get involved with art over Spring Break!
- We currently have a Friday Night Knitting Club that meets once a month! It is for all ages, genders, and stages (beginners to advanced). Basic instruction is offered and shared by those who attend. Entrance is by donation and all proceeds go toward our Step Forward Program. Read about the event here.
- We want to listen to you! If you have a programming idea from the community and want to share it with us, get it touch.
- We have a few programs in the works, so check back with us and wait and see what we have coming up!
We look forward to having you in the studio to experience the social health benefits of creativity for yourself!