How arts engagement supported social connectedness during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK: findings from the HEartS Survey

Perkins, R. and Kaye, S. and Zammit, B. B. and Mason-Bertrand, A. and Spiro, N. and Williamon, A. (2022) How arts engagement supported social connectedness during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK: findings from the HEartS Survey. Public Health, 207. pp. 1-6. ISSN 0033-3506

Abstract

Objectives: This study investigated how adults in the UK perceived their arts and cultural engagement to facilitate social connectedness at two time points in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Study design: The study used the HEartS Survey, a newly designed online survey tool to capture arts engagement in the UK and its associations with social and mental wellbeing, over two phases in 2020: March-May (Phase 1) and October (Phase 2). Methods: Qualitative data were provided at both phases by 581 respondents, who identified which arts and cultural activity they felt most connected them to others and how during the last month. Results: Thematic analysis revealed that, at both phases, arts and cultural engagement was perceived to facilitate social connectedness through four pathways that were also identified pre-pandemic: social opportunities; sharing; feelings of commonality and belonging; and collective understanding. The sub-themes shed light on specific ways that respondents used the arts during the pandemic to connect with others, including using the arts: as a catalyst for conversations, to maintain, reinstate, or strengthen relationships during social distancing, and to facilitate social interactions (Theme 1); to bring people together through shared experiences and sharing of art (Theme 2); to elicit feelings of direct and indirect proximity to others, to connect people with common interests, to feel a sense of belonging to something, and to feel part of a collective ‘COVID-19 experience’ or to feel collectively distracted from the pandemic (Theme 3); to learn from and about other people and to relate to others (Theme 4). The activity most frequently cited as connecting was watching a film or drama, followed by listening to music. Conclusions: Engagement in arts and cultural activities supported feelings of social connection among adults in the UK at two time points in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of access to the arts and culture to support social connectedness.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item