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Creative Pathways To Wellbeing

Project evaluations

A synthesis of project case studies from the What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Personal and community wellbeing is at the very core of Spirit’s funding strands, allowing for cross-cutting analysis of our impact on wellbeing across different projects over time. But the evidence for ‘how’ and ‘why’ different projects achieved wellbeing outcomes is often hidden and isolated in the different project reports.

In this research project the What Works Centre for Wellbeing applied their case study synthesis methodology to analyse a set of ten case studies from Spirit’s funded creativity based projects to draw out the pathways by which they supported the wellbeing of participants.

Wellbeing and other outcomes

All the projects reported improvement in wellbeing and other outcomes using
qualitative approaches.

The outcomes that were most commonly reported include:

  • improved positive mood and emotions, including joy and happiness,
    and peace of mind
  • increased confidence and self-esteem, especially through a growing sense of personal achievement and new or improved skills. Some participants reported a decrease in confidence when the activities became more technically challenging
  • personal development and growth, including improved aspirations for
    the future
  • increased social connection and friendship, and reduced loneliness

Creative pathways to wellbeing in communities

The contexts and mechanisms that enabled these creative projects to achieve
wellbeing can be understood as ‘creative pathways’. We found eight distinct
pathways that cut across the case study evidence:

  1. Skilled and supportive facilitation
  2. Social environment and contact
  3. Exhibiting and performing
  4. Learning creative skills
  5. Participant empowerment
  6. Meaning, escape, distraction and stress relief
  7. Feeling challenged
  8. Physical movement and exercise


Read the full report for more on each of them.