On the Value of Arts in Healthcare: A Letter from the National Organization for Arts in Health
Linh Dang is a member of the National Organization for Arts in Health inaugural Board. Here, she writes about the rich heritage of this new organization and the commitment of the board towards NOAH’s mission to “serve and advance the field of Arts in Health,” which aligns with Americans for the Arts’ work in the field of arts and healing, including the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military.
Decades ago, one thought arts and medicine mixed like water and vinegar. Today, more people recognize the power of the arts. Patients have claimed that doctors heal them through medicine, but the arts heal their souls.
NOAH (The National Organization for Arts in Health) was founded in 2016, but its roots go deeper, back to when a group of arts administrators proposed to establish an Arts in Health organization in 1989.
That year, Duke University Medical Center hosted the first symposium proposing the establishment of an arts in health organization. The “Society of Healthcare Arts Administrators” (SoHAA) was formed the next year, in 1990.
As the value of arts in healthcare increased, the organization continued to grow, formulating a board with elected officers, an information database, peer-reviewed journal and partnerships among organizations, fostering a culture of arts in health. By 1994, SoHAA changed its name to Society for Arts in Healthcare (SAH), then the Global Alliance for Arts in Health, then finally the Arts & Health Alliance, before disbanding in 2014.
NOAH aims to honor the history and mission of the former Alliance: “To promote the incorporation of the arts as an appropriate, integral component of health care by 1) demonstrating the valuable role of the arts in enhancing the healing process, 2) integrating the arts in the planning, design, and operation of health care facilities, and 3) developing and managing arts programming for health care populations.” The NOAH Board is dedicated to collaboration and to driving initiatives that help define the way the arts are contributing to the healthcare environment, improving patient experience, and aiding in the wellness of communities nationwide.
Todd Frazier, the President of NOAH’s Board of Directors, recently stated in his letter to members that “more and more, people and institutions, and not only health care or health related institutions, are turning to the arts as a bridge to transcend boundaries, illuminate ideas, to discover, and explore more effective ways to live with, inspire, heal and care for each other.” This is the reason NOAH Board members volunteer their time and resources. They truly believe that the use of art can be medicine to your soul, mind, and body.
NOAH is honored to serve the arts in health community and will strive to encourage innovation, research, and resources for the field of Arts in Health.