From a paper by Kim Dunphy – researcher with Cultural Development Network Victoria
The Australia Council says that community cultural development can be a highly effective means for communities to:
• develop new skills and address issues which affect them;
• interact and increase communication and networking;
• address social justice issues;
• represent themselves to their own and to other communities
• and enjoy rich and diverse cultural activities.

There is evidence that participation in arts is a factor in the development and sustainment of health and well-being. Cultural theorist Jon Hawkes argues for the value of arts participation at a community level: community participation in arts practice is an essential component of a healthy and sustainable society..... arts practice not only open up fantastic vistas of community expressivity but also.... profoundly contributes to the development of community (Hawkes, 2001).

In the UK in 1997, Francois Matarasso made the first large-scale attempt to gather evidence of the social benefits and impacts of participation in the arts. Using rigorous research methods, he identified fifty social impacts on individuals and communities through participation in arts programs. Matarasso concluded that participation in the arts does bring benefits to individuals and communities, with individual benefits such as an increase in confidence, creative and transferable skills and human growth translating into wider social impact, building of confidence of minority groups, promoting contact and contributing to social cohesion. He also considered that many of the social impacts of participatory arts work can be identified and demonstrated, and that it ‘cannot be argued that the arts, and the benefits they return for the public money invested in them, are beyond evaluation other than in aesthetic terms.

Deidre Williams describes studies in Australia and the UK that show social and educational outcomes of involvement in community arts programs including;
• building and development of communities
• increase of social capital
• activation of social change
• development of human capital
• improvement of economic performance
There is a large body of evidence that the major residual benefits from community based arts programs come from developing social and human capital, that is, in how these experiences can develop new insights, connections, skills and knowledge which influence changes to people's attitudes and behaviour (Williams, 1996)

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