Cheshire County residents asked to participate in survey about participation in arts events and loneliness

  • Cheshire County residents are invited to participate in a survey about participation in artistic events and feelings of loneliness and connectedness. Courtesy image

  • Cheshire County residents are invited to participate in a survey about participation in artistic events and feelings of loneliness and connectedness. Courtesy image—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/20/2021 4:54:58 PM

Cheshire County residents are invited to participate in a survey exploring participation in the arts and the related impacts on loneliness and connection, a joint effort from Arts Alive! and Antioch University New England.

The study aims to collect tangible behavioral data and information that could support both arts engagement and arts-based community health interventions, Arts Alive! executive director Jessica Gelter said. The study was prompted by Gelter’s observations that a limited demographic of Monadnock region residents were accessing the arts, research advisor Dr. Tomoyo Kawano said, and seeks to determine how to involve more people in community art events, and identify barriers to entry. “A region will certainly have its unique history and community and we anticipate that characteristics specific to the Monadnock area related to the arts will show up in the findings," Kawano said.

Arts Alive! intends to share the results with artists, arts organizations, and community groups, who might be able to benefit from the information on what practices and engagement strategies appear to work well to connect the community, and overcome barriers keeping some from participating in art and community events.

All Cheshire County residents are encouraged to participate, regardless of past or current involvement in the arts, Kawano said. “We believe artistic engagement is for everyone. ... Our main goal is to learn about the community with the hypothesis that the arts access will add value by increasing our connectedness and, by correlation, our mental and physical health,” she said.

Following the study, Arts Alive! plans to build an advocacy program, a professional development program, and a collaborative arts access program with members of the arts and public health communities, according to Gelter. National Arts Strategies provided a $10,000 grant and a Fellowship for Gelter to pursue this work.

Kawano and researcher Cierra Tunquist expect COVID-19 to factor into participants’ perspectives on community events, and there are places in the survey to indicate what perspectives may be caused by the pandemic, she said.

“Loneliness can feel like a desolate island surrounded by void. Crossing these voids takes courage and yields what I find to be one of the greatest joys of life: genuine connection with other people. Art is a vessel that can bridge the distance between two islands; it is innately connective," Tunquist wrote about the project.

The goal is for 900 residents to respond to the online survey by the end of February. Anyone who completes the survey can elect to be entered in a drawing for a $100 gas or grocery card and participate in arts-centered focus groups. Individuals may participate in the online survey at https://monadnockartsalive.org/loneliness-survey.

Any organization or business that shares this survey with their employees or mailing list will be listed on the Arts Alive! survey website. To demonstrate commitment to the arts across Monadnock region communities, businesses who share the survey can get listed on the site by emailing office@monadnockartsalive.org.


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