Project explores impact of art on youth mental health

Eastbourne AliveAN AMBITIOUS project to examine the positive impact of art on mental health has been launched in East Sussex.

A survey to understand the specific mental health and wellbeing benefits exposure to the arts can have for children and young people has been commissioned by East Sussex County Council’s Public Health team as part of the current Eastbourne ALIVE project.

Eastbourne ALIVE is a wide-ranging cultural programme running alongside this year’s Turner Prize which is being hosted at Towner Eastbourne.

The survey will assess how Eastbourne ALIVE’s artistic and creative activity contributes to children and young people’s social, emotional, and mental health and their wellbeing.

Working with young people, local cultural organisations, businesses, and the wider community, Eastbourne ALIVE includes public art installations, dance and music events, and school visits to Towner Eastbourne.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health for East Sussex, said: “For a very long time we have understood that art, or creative activity in a broad sense, adds meaning to life, and helps us express, explore and understand the many challenges and opportunities that life can throw at us.

“We know art can have real and lasting positive impacts on communities and more recently we have begun to research the specific positive physical and mental health benefits that the arts can bring.  National studies have shown that by simply engaging with the arts, we can all have a positive impact on our own physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“With the Turner Prize coming to Eastbourne and the Towner marking its centenary this year, this was a perfect opportunity for our Public Health team to evaluate the specific contribution art can make to the mental health and wellbeing of local young people.”

Sarah Dance, Project Director of Eastbourne ALIVE, said; “Eastbourne ALIVE is a celebration of the Turner Prize being hosted in Eastbourne and represents a huge opportunity for Eastbourne.  Our programme has been devised to capitalise on this opportunity and ensure that Eastbourne residents, particularly young people, are able to explore and celebrate their town and their experience of living in Eastbourne.

“Through a wide range of public art installations, projects and interventions we hope to create a lasting legacy for the town, with the arts and culture embedded in its vision for the future. We are delighted to be working with Public Health to really explore Eastbourne ALIVE’s impact.”

The information collected through the survey will be used to help shape future planning for mental health and wellbeing services in East Sussex.

It is also hoped the project will lead to opportunities for county wide collaborations between the cultural and health and social care sectors to establish where the creative health agenda can have a positive and sustainable impact.

The results from the survey will be included in the 2023/24 East Sussex Public Health report and presented at the 2024 Annual Southeast Public Health Conference.

For more information on Eastbourne ALIVE visit