Winter Webinar 2: The Case for Arts and Culture for Personal Wellbeing

RAA_White_Box_300x158-188x95Regional Arts Australia Winter Webinar Series: Igniting and Fuelling Conversations about Arts & Culture in Regional & Remote Australia

Wednesday 15 June, 11 am.

Host: Ben Eltham

Presenters: Dr Christina Davies, John Smithies & Alex Kelly

CDN’s Director John Smithies explored the topic of measurable cultural outcomes in depth in this webinar, along with other interesting panellists, addresses the topic: The case for arts and culture for personal wellbeing.

“Practice any art …” wrote Kurt Vonnegut, in a letter to a group of students, “… no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
So much has been said about the value of the arts and culture, fuelled by the framing in recent years of the arts as an ‘industry’. Here productivity rules and social, economic and policy outcomes may be quantified and argued for more readily. But how about the intrinsic value of the arts?

How can such benefits be weighed and measured, and is getting the measure in fact leading us back to where we came from – a quantifiable product as opposed to an intangible, yet no less valuable, benefit?


Dr Christina Davies is a Research Fellow at the School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia. Her multi-award winning research relates to the fields of ‘arts and health’, mental health and health promotion evaluation. Her latest paper ‘The art of being mentally healthy’ provides evidence of an association between mental wellbeing and 2hrs/week of arts engagement. Christina has worked in both academic and market research settings to evaluate programs for arts organisations, health organisations, government and industry. She has experience in both qualitative and quantitative research techniques and qualifications in public health, psychology and the arts. Her PhD was titled “Healthy arts? Exploring the relationship between arts engagement and population health”. She is a passionate artist, with interests in painting and photography.
John Smithies is the Director of the Cultural Development Network, Victoria, Australia, where he contributes to knowledge about cultural development, particularly in the local government sector. CDN advocates for the essential function of arts and cultural expression in the development of creative, healthy, engaged and sustainable communities. CDN has contributed to acknowledgement of culture as a domain of public policy across Australia and the wider world. Prior to his work at CDN, John was an arts manager with a background of arts programming, specifically in cinema, new media arts, and screen education, and experience in policy development. He studied at the Tasmanian School of Art, the South Australian School of Art, Monash University and the Academy of Fine Art Karlsruhe, Germany. From 1992, John was Director of the State Film Centre of Victoria, leading it through its development to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Alex Kelly is a producer and filmmaker committed to social justice. Alex worked for 10 years with leading Australian social change arts company Big hART as National Producer, initially joining the company in 2004 and working as Creative Producer of Ngapartji Ngapartji 2005-2010.

Alex has worked on a range of roles on documentary films including: producing Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji; production managing Coniston: Telling it True; and directing Queen of the Desert. In 2009 Alex was awarded the Australia Council for the Arts Kirk Robson Award and in 2011 the Screen Territory Bob Plasto Award. In 2013 Alex undertook a Churchill Fellowship looking at models for social change documentary impact and engagement in UK, Canada and the USA.

Alex is currently working as an Impact Producer on the team of Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s project This Changes Everything, producing the Island documentary film and directing the Something Somewhere Film Festival in Alice Springs.