ŌTAUTAHI CREATIVE SPACES TRUST
4 December 2018
Report omits impact of creativity on health and wellbeing
For immediate release
The profound impact of arts, health and wellbeing organisations in New Zealand has been omitted from the government’s
Mental Health Inquiry report released today.
Christchurch based initiative Ōtautahi Creative Spaces was established after the Christchurch earthquakes to support
people with experience of distress.
Director Kim Morton says the Inquiry’s report does not cover the contribution of specialist creative wellbeing
initiatives such as Ōtautahi Creative Spaces.
“We call on the government to address this when it creates its action plan, by looking at the evidence of arts and
health programmes, creating an arts and health policy, and investing in this area,” she says. “Research shows that
creative wellbeing programmes not only improve wellbeing, but also save lives.”
A landmark report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing last year found significant
benefits to mental health and wellbeing from participating in arts and creativity.
An evaluation report prepared for Ōtautahi Creative Spaces by Ihi Research in 2017 found there was a “profound” impact
on participants’ wellbeing and general health.
“The evaluation revealed many therapeutic and positive impacts associated with being an artist in a highly creative,
resourced and safe community of practice,” Ihi Research Director Dr Catherine Savage said. “Identity as an artist,
rather than as someone who is unwell, is the catalyst for change.”
Kim Morton says there is also little acknowledgement in the report of the “unprecedented mental health needs” in
Christchurch following the earthquakes, and how the mental health impact of a disaster like this will continue to be
felt for generations to come,” says Morton.
“Despite the huge mental health needs in Christchurch, we’ve had to fight for survival from the outset. We can’t access
district health board or Ministry of Social Development funding that other similar, long-established, organisations
receive in other parts of the country.
“In our submission to the Inquiry we called for a level playing field nationally and equitable allocation of funds. It
is not clear to us from the report how this inequity will be addressed.”
Set up in 2015 as an alternative to existing mental health day programmes, Ōtautahi Creative Spaces’s Room 5 studio is
an artist-centred space which builds on artists strengths and encourages leadership and development of creative
“We see artists going from strength to strength. In the last year, artists have hosted the Prime Minister and Minister
of Health, given presentations at national conferences, and exhibited at CoCA the Centre of Contemporary Art,” Morton
says. “Twelve artists participated in the Mental Health Inquiry, advocating for change at a meeting with Inquiry
”This is a far cry from feeling isolated, and seldom leaving their houses. Four artists have told us that belonging to
our studio had given them hope and that without it, they wouldn’t be here.”
In August 2018 Ōtautahi Creative Spaces was awarded the Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award 2018, presented by
Arts Access Aotearoa.
For a copy of the report Evaluation of Otautahi Creative Spaces https://www.ihi.co.nz/what-we-do/otautahi-creative-spaces/