Mass Cultural Council logo
Home / Blog / Communities / Introducing Our Social Prescription Pilot

Introducing Our Social Prescription Pilot

Anita Walker, Executive Director

Woman and a boy seated in a gallery at Peabody Essex Museum, marvelling at an animal exhibition.

We are embarking on a bold initiative to focus the power of culture on the health and well-being of Massachusetts residents. We call it CultureRx. You’ve probably heard about our new partnership with the Health Connector, ConnectorCare Card to Culture, which connects people who have subsidized health insurance in Massachusetts to our cultural organizations, introducing us to new audiences, and providing Health ConnectorCare members with a powerful protective factor for good health: cultural participation.

We are now ready to launch the next component of CultureRx – our Social Prescription Pilot. Together we will pilot a practice called social prescribing. This will encourage professional care providers (doctors, nurses, community health workers, social workers, mental health practitioners, school guidance counselors, and others) to write a prescription for a client or patient to participate in programming at one of our Social Prescription Pilot Organizations. When the organization provides services through a prescription, Mass Cultural Council will reimburse the organization for the services provided, just like a doctor is reimbursed by an insurance company for services.

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest from cultural organizations that want to participate in our Social Prescription Pilot.

Social Prescription is:

  • Improving health and well-being in Massachusetts.
  • Changing the funding deficit model of cultural nonprofits.
  • Deepening relationships with professional care providing partners.
  • Recognizing the power of cultural programming to protect against loneliness and isolation.
  • Learning the best ways to be welcoming to all.

Social Prescription is not:

  • Creating new programs.
  • “Medicalizing” cultural programming.

As you think about the power of culture to improve health and well-being consider these facts:

  • Cultural participation reduces social isolation. Research shows that social Isolation and loneliness negatively impact health and well-being:
    • Social isolation is as dangerous to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
    • Loneliness increases inflammation, heart disease, dementia and death rates.
    • Loneliness is more lethal than obesity which kills 300,000 to 600,000 people a year in the US.
    • More than one in five adults in the US say they often or always feel lonely.
  • Research in the UK shows that people who participate in the arts and culture are 60% more likely to report good health compared with those who do not.
  • study of more than 50,000 adults in Norway found that participation in the arts and culture was significantly associated with good health, satisfaction with life and low anxiety and depression.

Moreover, the cost of health care consumes nearly half of our state budget every year. I’m willing to bet that we can reduce that with more cultural participation.

Whether they know it or not, your visitors and audiences are already getting a protective dose of the power of culture whenever they participate in the programming you provide. Our CultureRx Initiative is designed to help us reach people at risk of the serious consequences of loneliness and isolation, stress, and inactivity — people who may never have considered the benefits of the arts and culture.

We’re looking for organizations that already have established relationships with a professional care provider and want to be part of a learning community. Let us know if you would like to be part of the pilot by submitting an Expression of Interest by March 27, 2020.

Read more about our Social Prescription Pilot

Back to Top