Evidence demonstrates a diverse range of social benefits are derived from engagement with sport and culture, both for society generally and when used within interventions targeted at particular groups in society.
The most convincing evidence concerns health benefits, which prevent or reduce physical and mental health problems and save on health care costs.
There is also strong evidence that sports participation improves pro-social behaviour and reduces crime and anti-social behaviour, particularly for young men. This includes evidence of lower levels, for sports participants compared with non-participants, of recidivism, drunk driving, use of illegal drugs, crime and suspensions at school, property crime, shoplifting and juvenile crime.
In terms of the social capital impacts from sport, there is evidence that sport is a type of ‘social glue’, i.e. contributing ‘bonding’ capital by increasing social connectedness and a sense of belonging. Positive outcomes in studies include reduced social and ethnic tensions, and more collective action and community involvement through sport, particularly volunteering.
There is considerable evidence of the positive impact of sport and exercise on educational outcomes.
Through psychological benefits such as enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence, and cognitive benefits such as concentration and thinking skills, sport has positive effects on a number of final outcomes, including educational behaviour and attainment.
The evidence points to positive associations between participation in arts and health, social capital, crime and education.
The evidence of beneficial effects of the arts on health extends to clinical and non-clinical populations, and physical and mental health. A number of studies evidence the health benefits of music, both for the general population and for stroke victims.
Most of the research into the relationship between the arts and crime focuses on the effects of arts programmes for offenders. The evidence in such studies testifies to beneficial effects on intermediate outcomes such as communication skills, teamwork and self concepts, which are important antecedents for a reduced likelihood of re-offending.
Studies in general testify that cultural participation can contribute to social relationships, community cohesion, and/or make communities feel safer and stronger. A majority of studies also supports positive links between arts participation and social inclusion, suggesting that cultural participation results in an improved capacity for cultural citizenship, boosting confidence and developing social skills which lead to more effective engagement with the community at large.
Evidence of the relationship between arts participation and education impacts shows positive effects on intermediate outcomes (e.g. self concepts, improved relationships between staff, students and parents).