Culture heals: IBSA Foundation's Project ‘Cultura e Salute’ kicks off

Stating that cultural activities such as visual arts, literature, music, dance and theatre are more than just moments of entertainment and have a positive effect on our psychological well-being seems fairly obvious and natural. 

But is this a commonplace, a popular belief, or is there some evidence behind it? Well, there is. It has been scientifically proven that cultural activities play an active and remarkable role in preventing illness, promoting good health and combating a wide variety of diseases. As Dr. Piroska Östlin, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said, “Bringing art into people’s lives through activities including dancing, singing, and going to museums and concerts offers an added dimension to how we can improve physical and mental health”. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has proved the evidence for the role of the arts in promoting health and wellbeing in a recent report entitled What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? which reviewed over 900 publications covering more than 3,000 previous studies. “The examples cited in this ground-breaking WHO report show ways in which the arts can tackle ‘wicked’ or complex health challenges such as diabetes, obesity and mental ill health. They consider health and well-being in a broader societal and community context, and offer solutions that common medical practice has so far been unable to address effectively,” Östlin concluded. 


The project Cultura e Salute (Culture and Health) was launched in 2020 as part of the three-year partnership between the Culture Division of the City of Lugano and IBSA Foundation for scientific research. The initiative is the result of the awareness that a stronger alliance between art and physical and psychological wellbeing can lead to better living conditions, both inside and outside healthcare facilities and health centres. 

Cultura e Salute therefore intends to promote initiatives and synergies between the worlds of culture and health, and to facilitate the use of the arts as a tool to support care, through the promotion of knowledge, research and practice. The aim is to encourage a long-term policy that can help improve people's quality of life. 

On 5 October, a press conference was held at Villa Ciani in Lugano to present the first milestones achieved over the three-year time frame 2020-2022. A new university course starting on October 18, a scientific forum focused on sustainable development on November 26 and 27, an online platform available in four languages: these are the projects presented by Roberto Badaracco (Municipal Councillor of Lugano), Giovanni Pedrazzini (Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI), Silvia Misiti (Director of IBSA Foundation) and Luigi Di Corato (Director of the Culture Division of the City of Lugano). 


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IBSA Foundation is proud to promote and support the innovative university course Cultura e Salute at USI University of Lugano, which will take place from October to December 2021. For seven weeks, personalities from the world of culture and professors from the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences will discuss topics related to culture and health.
The course aims to explore the impact of art and cultural participation on the physical and mental wellbeing of the individual and the community, and to provide the keys to interpreting the role played by culture in the sphere of health, through a review of experiences and good practices in the scientific and medical spheres. 

The appointments, open to the public and to medical students (with recognition of 1 ECTS), will take place from Monday 18 October to Monday 6 December in the Aula polivalente of USI's East Campus from 6.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. More information is available on the page dedicated to the course on the IBSA Foundation website


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The forum "An Alliance for a sustainable future", scheduled for 26 and 27 November 2021 in Lugano, will be the first scientific event dedicated to the topic of culture and health. Scientific evidence and best practices at international level will be presented, with the participation of renowned experts in the field.

The selection of applications for the Call for Case Studies which has been recently launched will also be presented, in order to give maximum visibility to what is happening in the Swiss context. Experienced practitioners and experts are invited to submit their projects, which have to be developed and implemented in Switzerland with the support of innovative methodologies and on the basis of defined scientific results. More information on how to participate in the call for proposals is available at


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The new web portal, designed to become the reference portal on the topic of Culture and Health, allows to enhance research, practices, artistic and cultural projects created for the well-being of people and communities, and to promote knowledge, care and enhancement of cultural heritage and creative industries.
Inclusiveness is the key word. The website has been designed to ensure maximum accessibility for the users: it is available in four languages (Italian, French, German and English), and has been developed to overcome computer-related architectural barriers, thus making it accessible to those with visual or cognitive difficulties.