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Embracing Arlington Arts produces a Theater/Arts Management Education podcast series that features special topics of interest that we delve into in much greater detail. The goal is to create a better understand about the performing arts among patrons, students and other interested parties.

Health Benefits of the Arts

This Educational Podcast Series features three distinguished researchers in the field from George Mason University who updated us on the latest research and studies on the health benefits of the arts for all community sectors.

Dr. Jatin Ambegaonkar, the Associate Professor at GMU’s College of Education and Human Development who has conducted much research on dance and movement therapy, especially for seniors. Among the many benefits are allowing these older adults the opportunity to remain active members of this community physically, mentally and spiritually. Dance also helps with fall risks, better balance, and less depression. Dr. Ambegaonkar summed up the benefits in this interview with “the arts foster well-being by creating community. Arts are not competitive – meaning you are not competing for the arts, but rather engaging with people for the arts.”

Dr. Niyati Dhokai, the Director of the Veterans and the Arts Initiative Program at George Mason University, expounded on the many benefits art therapies provide our nation’s military members in this interview. Among some of the observed impacts on Veterans receiving music and other art therapies were more feelings of relaxation and well-being, ability to talk more confidently, and providing a sense of safe space. “Overall, the arts provide an opportunity for military members, their children, caregivers and other family members come together,” Dhokai explained. “The arts also enhance relaxation and spur interaction among all family members.”

Dr. Thalia Goldstein from George Mason University’s Applied Developmental Psychology Department has had years of experience examining the health benefits of the arts for children and students. Among some of the findings: students with arts in their curriculum have higher academic grades, better test scores, less absenteeism (which leads to decreased hunger), better social skills and more expertise in collaborative work than those students without the arts. “The arts provide a safe and contained space to explore your emotions and a pathway to explore your sense of self and emotional outbursts,” Goldstein stated during the interview when explaining how children benefit.

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