Blog Posts for arts and healing

The Arts: A Promising Solution to Meeting the Challenges of Today's Military

Posted by Marete Wester, Apr 10, 2013 2 comments

Marete Wester Marete Wester

On November 15, 2012, a group of concerned and dedicated military, government, private sector, and nonprofit leaders gathered at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC for the Arts & Health in the Military National Roundtable.

The Roundtable represented the second step in the ongoing development of the multi-year National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military, a collaborative effort to advance the arts in health, healing, and healthcare for military service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers.

Launched in January 2012, the National Initiative is co-lead by Americans for the Arts and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in partnership with a national steering committee comprised of military, federal agency, nonprofit, and private sector partners.

The Roundtable was charged with advancing the mission of National Initiative by recommending a framework for a “blueprint for action”—one that will ensure the availability of arts interventions for our service men and women and their families, and integrate the arts as part of the “Standard of Care” in military clinical (VA and military hospitals) as well as programs in community settings across the country. 

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Eugene O'Neill's Grant Writer Walks Into A Bar....

Posted by Bill O'Brien, Dec 07, 2012 0 comments

Bill O'Brien

...and spots the dramatist hunched over in a corner booth, scribbling in his notebook. He walks over to the playwright, drops the first draft of Long Day's Journey Into Night on the table and says, "That's great, Eugene—but how am I supposed to prove economic growth or improved health and well-being with this?"

Obviously, this never happened. But if it did, it would be a great example of the conundrum we sometimes find ourselves in when we try to “scale up” societal benefits via the power of the arts. Identifying positive outcomes we'd like to pursue on policy levels at 20,000 feet can sometimes feel far removed from the missions being pursued by artists on the ground.

Trying to harness the power of the arts to provide broad public benefit in a strategized way is a good idea. The idea that our greatest American playwright should bend his art-making towards these aims is not. So if we're trying to organize a way to share specific impacts of the arts so more people can benefit, how should we proceed?

In an art-science post called "The Imagine Engine!" on the National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) Art Works blog this spring, I stated that it may be possible for artists and scientists to “borrow freely from each other's methods and practices and share insights with each other that they might be unable to find on their own." This fall, through a program we've established via a partnership with the Department of Defense, we're beginning to see evidence suggesting this hypothesis may be true.

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Does Size Matter? (or Welcome to Our Blog Salon on Scaling Up)

Posted by Joanna Chin, Dec 03, 2012 0 comments

Examples of scaling.

The notion of scaling up has gained currency as arts organizations, artists, and funders seek greater impact from their efforts and investments. The idea of sharing something that is effective so that the benefits can be experienced by more people is attractive, especially when something is producing good results.

One Story of Successful Scaling

A significant example of scaling up for the public good came to us just last week through a news update from one of Animating Democracy’s early grantees. Since its PBS broadcast in June 2008, Katrina Brown’s film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North has spawned a nonprofit, the Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery, which has engaged thousands of people from all backgrounds in honest, productive dialogues about race, privilege, and the history of slavery, based on the story of Katrina's ancestors’ role in the slave trade in New England.

The news update cites a breathtaking array of ways the organization is reaching people—from a workshop for members of the Connecticut General Assembly and its staff to sharing the film and related work with thousands of attendees at the 77th Episcopal General Convention. Using the film’s narrative, the Center has reached across education, government, faith, and cultural sectors to make a difference on pervasive and persistent issues of race and class in America.

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Enrichment, Recollection, Fulfillment---What Else is Necessary in Life?

Posted by Melissa Lineburg, Mar 05, 2012 0 comments

Seniors benefit from ballroom dance. (Photo from The Payson Roundup)

I recently received my alma mater’s College of Visual and Performing Arts newsletter and was blown away by the enriching work of a former classmate.

It is becoming common knowledge, thank goodness, that the arts are vital to the proper mental and physical development of our youth as well as the maintenance of a high quality of life for our aging population.

My classmate Emily McKinney, a junior at Radford University, took advantage of the university’s class and degree offerings to combine two of her loves: dance and teaching children with disabilities.

Specifically, she teaches private and/or small group dance classes to autistic children in the community around Radford. Her work has given children who have difficulties communicating and expressing themselves an instrument to “be their true selves.”

Despite the challenges she faces working with them, Emily knows patience and careful guidance help her dance students discover immense amounts of joy that would seem otherwise impossible.

In addition to these findings and personal accounts, I found it interesting that the same is applied for the elderly, namely patients being treated for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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Art Provides Healing, Creates Dialogue in State College, PA

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Dec 21, 2011 2 comments

A solitary blue ribbon replaced Jerry Sandusky in this mural by artist Michael Pilato. (Photo from BusinessInsider.com)

We often see examples of art used as a way to heal a community following tragedy, whether it be something catastrophic like war or a sudden death, all of the arts can be used as an escape, a catalyst for further examination, or in countless other ways.

While reading through news articles last night, I happened upon a piece written for a student newspaper of Penn State.

It wasn't very long ago that the name of the institution wouldn't cause a shudder within me. Having grown up across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, the school's football (and sometimes basketball) program often appeared on the local news thanks in part to sharing a state with Philly and a huge number of alumni living the the Delaware Valley.

Having gone to a small, liberal arts state school in New Jersey, I will probably never understand the culture of an enormous university like Penn State (although I think NPR's This American Life shed some light on that for me a few weeks ago).

As most of America sat on the proverbial sidelines watching the fallout from the horrifying child molestation scandal unfolding in State College, PA, you could see that the town has a lot to work through as the case continues on into 2012.

This is where an artist can make an impact.

Local muralist Michael Pilato revisited a previous work (pictured above) and created a new one to honor victims of sexual abuse...

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Surviving the Prairie Tsunami

Posted by Terri Aldrich, Aug 04, 2011 0 comments

Rubble in a Minot neighborhood.

My community, Minot, ND, has been devastated by flood waters.

As I drove home from work last night I observed streets lined with waterlogged piles of rubble.

These sad remnants of people’s lives looked more like a war zone than a residential district. The images combined with the smell were overwhelming. So many have lost so much.

At the Minot Area Council of the Arts, we wondered what we should and could do. We wanted to lift spirits.

Our free summer concert series had been stopped when our park venues were under water. Even indoor venues are unavailable because they are being used as shelters or as space to store belongings. To find an available space we contacted the local Scandinavian Heritage Society that maintains a heritage park unaffected by flood waters and received permission to continue our summer concerts at their location instead.

Local media helped us get the word out. Not knowing if folks would show up, we decided to move ahead with the concerts, trekking sound equipment, popcorn machine, and wagons across town to the new location.

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