The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the systemic neglect of culture as the single, greatest, barrier to the advancement of the highest standard of health worldwide. Health is more than the absence of disease. It is a state of wellbeing that allows people to contribute their full, creative potential to the communities they love. From a cultural perspective, community health is community wealth.
Culture is foundational to hope, trust, a sense of belonging, and purpose in life. Purpose is the “why” of both people and organizations. Purpose is what gives meaning to the things we do. Research published by National Academy of Sciences found that people with greater senses of purpose in life are even more likely to embrace preventive healthcare.
Purpose, however, must be aligned with culture or it becomes a goal without a plan. Putting it another way, purpose is about where your journey is taking you. Culture is the combination of values and habits that will get you there.
In 2018, I began to center upon the business community — the places where people work, invest and learn — as a primary leverage point for improving Cultural Wellbeing in the United States. My research suggests that there are Five Dimensions of Cultural Wellbeing which offer opportunities for direct action by the business community.
For the private sector to realize its role as agent of a wellbeing in society, there are Five Actions for Cultural Wellbeing that must occur.
Translate the science of hope, trust and belonging into inclusive growth strategies for companies and entrepreneurial networks.
Train artists, creatives and culture-bearers to expand their creative practice into areas of health and wellbeing.
Connect cultural entrepreneurs with private sector partners to co-create sustainable, scalable solutions to deeply entrenched social challenges that impact health.
Engage science and research to support the process with ongoing evaluation and measurement.
Use iterative learnings as a virtuous feedback loop between cultural and economic systems to foster inclusive economic expansion as the most sustainable growth strategy.