Journal of Public Health, 40(1), pp i24–i30
We propose that arts based methodologies can be of value in the production and exchange of evidence in supporting public health related policy. This article reports on a collaborative piece of work resulting from two projects which took place in a former coal mining town in South Wales.
We used a participatory framework whereby researchers, community members and artists co-produced ‘evidence’ through the creative arts to inform public policy. We collected a range of data using a number of different techniques, including interviews, focus groups and observation, but also included an extensive range of creative activities.
The data provided a diverse range of perspectives on how people of different ages live their lives. The People’s Platform was a performance-based debate which was the culmination of the collaboration. The show involved a series of short performances with time for facilitated discussion in-between. It was felt that the show facilitated knowledge exchange on health and wellbeing issues that are usually difficult to express and understand through traditional forms of evidence.
Whilst arts-based approaches are not free from risk, they offer an alternative form of knowledge as a necessary complement to the range of data available to policy makers.