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Free Content The power to heal us with a smile and a song: Senior Well-being, Music-based Participatory Arts and the Value of Qualitative Evidence

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Sweet Tonic is a singing-based participatory arts initiative based in the southwest of Sydney, Australia. This paper reports on a qualitative evaluation of the thirty-week workshop series. It provides qualitative evidence of the outcomes of the programme, linking these to recent debates about evidence-based policy approaches. It argues that, although Sweet Tonic is undoubtedly a beneficiary of the instrumentalist turn in arts policy, this framing also traps the programme into defining its success or failure in instrumentalist terms. It is suggested that, although such accounts are often dismissed as anecdotal, in fact the most powerful evidence of the impact of a programme like Sweet Tonic is contained in the accounts of personal experience of participants in the programme. It is therefore necessary to understand the complexities of evidence in cultural policy, and to develop new language to talk about evidence that doesn't unnecessarily privilege quantitative or statistical forms at the expense of qualitative evidence.

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Keywords: creativity; evidence; seniors; singing; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Western Sydney.

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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