Research digest: Culture on referral

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Research digest: Culture on referral

Older female audience member in wheelchair dancing to music
© Sinfonia Viva, Brentwood. Orchestras Live. Photo: Paul Starr, Essex County Council

By Robyn Dowlen, Centre for Cultural Value


Explore the evidence surrounding culture on referral programmes (also known as arts on prescription) and the implications for cultural sector practitioners and policymakers. This research digest reviews and summarises the academic literature and identifies where there is evidence and where further research is needed.

We evaluated the evidence surrounding the value of culture on referral programmes and how they might contribute to improved health and wellbeing outcomes and impacts through synthesising and appraising evidence published since 2010.

Culture on referral (also known as arts on prescription) is the process by which a GP or other health/social care professional, refers a person to an arts or cultural programme. These referrals sit within the broader movement of ‘social prescribing’, a broad range of non-medical referrals designed to improve health and wellbeing. It is also possible for people to self-refer to programmes, with many cultural organisations advertising these programmes within their local communities.

This rapid review of the academic literature was conducted between October and December 2019 and was updated ahead of publication in September 2020.

Published: 2020
Resource type: Research