Fields of Gold

by Frances Ainslie

As 2017 rustles into Autumn I’m already squirreling away my ‘book hoard’ for winter, and hanker for hours of fire-side reading. Where July and August were inspirational with magical Moniack Mhor and various literary festivals, it’s now time to put my feet up and reflect on what I’ve learned.

The Edinburgh Book Festival offered an interesting session titled ‘Why Reading is Good for You’ led by Josie Billington and Rick Rylance, chaired by Gavin Francis, a writer and GP. Now, we in the Lapidus community know this stuff, yet the statistics shared were an eye-opener for me, and also for the sizeable audience given the number of questions.

The UK publishing and associated creative industries is apparently worth £84bn (7% of GDP) – it is the fastest growing sector of our economy. There are now over 350 annual Literary Festivals across the UK with almost 70% of the UK population reading on a regular basis. Those who participate in the arts, culture and reading tend to live longer, and have greater life satisfaction – ‘Yes!’

So why are we not shouting it from the rooftops and . . . and why does government treat it like a nice to have?

Well … in July an ‘All Parliamentary White Paper’ was released on this very subject. Here’s the summary of their key findings –

‘The Arts can help keep us well, aid our own recovery and support longer lives better lived.’

‘The Arts can help meet major challenges facing health and social care, ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health.’

‘The Arts can help save money in the health service and social care.’

So, it’s onwards and upwards … there’s much work, and reading to do!