AMA Member Rep for the North East & Yorkshire, Hannah Mason, shares her thoughts on the issues raised by the latest JAM — the AMA’s journal of arts marketing — which focuses on health and wellbeing.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (The wonderful Maya Angelou)
What struck me most about the latest issue of JAM was the optimism and connections in every story. Being a well human is a lifelong occupation that spans our physical needs and our emotional ones. Having other people to be with while we improve our health seems to be the key to success.
From the article on the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra working with people with dementia (page 5), to the Silver Swans at the Royal Academy of Dance (page 9) and the launch of Lyric Life (page 12), being connected to the arts and to each other brings phenomenal results that medicine alone cannot.
Each article has a focus on helping people with particular health needs for example Parkinson’s, falls prevention, mental health/depression, dementia, but they also tell us inspiring stories about tackling isolation and loneliness by giving people a place to go to with others in the same or similar situation as themselves.
There are some frightening statistics out there about the detrimental effects of loneliness and isolation. A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross reveals over nine million people in the UK across all adult ages are either always or often lonely. The Campaign to End Loneliness says that some of the health risks include being “more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression” and that “Loneliness is worse for you than obesity”.
Having the opportunity to connect with people over creative activities opens the door for conversations that are much broader; improving self-esteem and confidence. As part of the Creative Alternatives programme in St Helens (page 15) they “aim to provide a safe space where they can meet like-minded individuals and where judgements are left at the door.” I love that because it resonates with everyone, not just for people working in the creative arts, but for groups of all shapes and sizes.
As a freelancer, working from home, I sometimes find myself neglecting my physical and emotional self. Hunched over a computer all day, not talking to another human and only getting up to get another cup of tea (or go to the loo!) I am hardly getting the right kind of exercise and mental stimulus. JAM has made me think twice about how I spend my time. Should I wait until I am actually ‘silver’ to get out there and make connections? Working for yourself can be an isolating experience. Not having people to be accountable to can make for a sedentary existence.
“My ladies frequently meet for coffee …. even though most of them came knowing nobody else, they have created wonderful friendship groups thus combatting loneliness and promoting wellbeing” (JAM 72, page 9).
It’s never too late or too early to make new friends, learn new creative skills and truly take good care of yourself.
Hannah Mason, Founder of The Content Managers, is an experienced cultural producer and communications director with over 10 years’ experience in the arts, education, public and private sectors.
3D modelling made by participants of a Creative Alternative workshop. Image courtesy of Creative Alternatives ©