A NEW 10-year study will look at how arts and culture benefits the wellbeing of Bradford’s residents.

In May Bradford launched its 10-year cultural strategy - dubbed “Culture is Our Plan” that aims to get more of the District’s residents involved in culture.

And it has now been revealed that research project Born in Bradford will be involved in a “UK first” study into the impact of culture on people’s lives.

The plan will be discussed at a meeting of the Bradford and Airedale Wellbeing Board next Tuesday, when members will hear that there is currently little research into how many people in the District access arts, museums, galleries, theatre and other cultural offers.

However, it is thought that more than half of Bradford’s residents have “low engagement” with the arts - much higher than the national average of around 35 per cent.

The Born In Bradford project has been tracking the lives of 13,500 babies and their families – around 30,000 people in total – for more than a decade.

It has looked at how issues such as poverty and pollution have affected the health of the city’s children.

And now the same expertise will be used to study how access to cultural activities can improve health and wellbeing.

The Committee will be given an update on the strategy and what it hopes to achieve.

Launch of 10-year culture plan to help put Bradford on "national and international stage"

But it says that as things stand there is no way to tell whether the plan is attracting people who would normally get involved in arts and culture.

To fix this there will be a decade long study by Born in Bradford to run alongside the strategy to gauge the impact it is having on residents' lives.

It is thought that access to arts and culture can help people feel part of their community, improve their mental wellbeing and help people become more active - and the new study will help identify exactly how important culture is to residents’ lives.

A report by the Department of Culture Media and Sport in September 2020 said the arts had positive impacts on child development, social skills and social cohesion, including a reduction of loneliness and isolation, a decline in aggression and discrimination, and an "improvement in social consciousness."

At the launch of the Cultural strategy in May, leaders of the Bradford Cultural Place Partnership said the 10 year plan aimed to give Bradford more recognition on the national, and international, stage.

Making sure people from all different backgrounds, and all parts of the District, had access to arts and culture was also a vital part of the strategy.

It is hoped that Bradford will be named City of Culture in 2025 - half way through the 10 years strategy.

At Tuesday’s meeting the Wellbeing Board will be asked to support plans for the study, which will be known as Live Life Better.

The report to the board says: “Having examined all of the data available on audiences across the District, we now know

enough to know what we don’t know.

“We can see that the conventional tools to measure cultural engagement don’t help us understand either the breadth of cultural activity in the District or people’s level of engagement with it.

“Even within our professional National Portfolio Organisations (organisations supported by the Arts Council) very few operate box-office systems.

“The picture they can paint is partial at best. Bradford needs to devise its own means of collecting and understanding data about cultural engagement.

“Fortunately, we have a unique asset to help us do this – and a great deal more besides.

“At the Bradford Institute for Health Research, Born in Bradford is a worldleading study that has been tracking the lives of 13,500 babies and their families – around 30,000 people in total – for more than a decade.

“It is helping unravel the reasons for ill health and using the evidence to save lives. On top of this, the Connected Bradford project holds anonymised data for approximately 700,000 citizens across the Bradford and Airedale region.

“The Bradford Cultural Place Partnership will co-commission a UK-first, ten-year study using the unique Born in Bradford data. Working with the team at Bradford Institute for Health Research, we will get a better understanding of people’s engagement with culture.

“The study will give us evidence of the benefits of arts, culture and heritage to everyone’s lives.”

The board will also be asked to support another of the cultural plan’s goals - to link up the cultural sector with schools and higher education settings in the city to help provide young people with the means to get a job in the cultural sector, especially in emerging digital industries.