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Creative HeARTS

With a New Year – and hopefully plenty of spare time over the Christmas season – it could be time to pick up a new hobby.

Darwin is bubbling with community arts groups and spaces to get involved in, and for those who don’t necessarily fancy themselves as artistic, there’s no better time to get involved as more social style events pop up around the Top End.

It seems like a no brainer that being involved in the arts – whether through your own practice or by seeing a gig or a show – is good for your health.

David McMicken from Tracks Dance has seen first hand the multi-faceted ways simply throwing your hat in the ring can improve health and well-being.

“It’s the simple act of doing,” he says.

“Sometimes that’s doing what someone else says in an arts practice, sometimes it’s a creative act by you – but it’s the very act of just being involved and participating in the arts that has a huge flow on in terms of health and community benefits.

“With dance there are obviously health benefits through fitness. But that’s on an individual level, the social benefits of being and working with other people and having to creatively problem solve together is enormous.”

Darwin Fringe Festival director and artist CJ Fraser-Bell is also at the forefront, seeing the positive outcomes of independent and emerging artists pushing them-selves creatively.

“Sharing in the arts isn’t just about being entertained and going to music events and theatre shows – although we certainly enjoy both here in Darwin. The arts is a way  of exploring ourselves and the place that we live,” Fraser-Bell says.

“It helps people connect with each other, it beautifies spaces, and sparks big conversations. 

“Participation in art making also grows individual confidence, communication and empathy – all things that improve our communities.”

But it’s not just anecdotal evidence; scientists and researchers crunched the numbers to back it up.

Research from the Institute of Creative Health found that involvement in creative arts can reduce medication needs, shorten length of stays in hospital and enhance capacity to resolve social issues.

So if you need any more excuses to pick up a paintbrush, join a choir or tie up your dancing shoes, look no further. 

Image: Grey Panthers

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