Modelling arts professionals’ wellbeing and career intentions within the context of COVID-19

Spiro, N. and Shaughnessy, C. and Waddell, G. and Perkins, R. and Campbell, A. and Williamon, A. (2023) Modelling arts professionals’ wellbeing and career intentions within the context of COVID-19. PLOS One, 18 (10) (e0292722). ISSN 1932-6203 (online)


The COVID-19 pandemic had a substantial effect on the creative and cultural industries in the United Kingdom (UK), as seen in our first snapshot of the HEartS Professional Survey (April–June 2020, Phase 1, N = 358). By analysing data collected one year later (April–May 2021, Phase 2, N = 685), the aims of the current study are to trace the contributors to (1) arts professionals’ mental and social wellbeing and (2) their expectations of staying in the arts. Findings show that artists continued to experience challenges in terms of finances, and mental and social wellbeing. Over half of the respondents reported financial hardship (59%), and over two thirds reported being lonelier (64%) and having increased anxiety (71%) than before the pandemic. Hierarchical multiple linear regression models, using the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, Social Connectedness Scale, and Three-Item Loneliness Scale as outcome variables, indicate that perceived financial hardship continued to be associated with higher depression and loneliness scores. As in our first study, more physical activity before lockdown was associated with higher wellbeing and social connectedness scores, and higher self-rated health scores were associated with higher wellbeing and lower depression scores. Similarly, increases in physical activity during lockdown, as well as older age, were still associated with higher wellbeing and social connectedness scores and with lower depression and loneliness scores. An ordinal logistic regression model indicated three contributors to artists’ professional expectations of remaining in the arts: greater proportion of income from the arts pre-pandemic, continued maintenance of skills, and greater proportion of freelance work. The results suggest that the wellbeing patterns observed at the start of the pandemic remained consistent a year on. They point to possible strategies to support wellbeing and underline the importance of finances for expectations of remaining in arts professions.

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