Arts + Youth Living with Cancer: A Thoughtful Approach
Successfully working with children and teens living with cancer and other chronic, serious health issues takes a multi faceted, creative approach. This special population requires flexibility—learning photography in a rigorous out-of-hospital photography program like Pablove Shutterbugs (that has sometimes been compared to a high school level fundamentals course) may seem inconsequential for families who tirelessly care for their children in some of the most challenging life circumstances anyone could ever face. However, research has shown that the arts have the ability to unify and empower, and with cancer patients, the arts can be a critical piece to improving quality of life.
Advocacy & Arts: Have You Seen the Ads?
Elected leaders care deeply about the areas they represent and the views of their constituents who elect them every few years. They may not agree with what they think, but they do care to know what they think—and it is certainly one key factor that weighs on how they cast their votes, what issues they focus on, and what areas they deepen their knowledge. Since we know that ads bring attention to issues, inspire and educate the public, and mobilize grassroots, they are one great way to invite data and impact stories that can lead to policy change. And, we know that legislators read their local newspapers, so the message gets through.
Helping Veterans Build Connections Between Creative Arts Therapy Programs and Their Local Arts
The past five years have been a renaissance for those of us who incorporate the arts into our work with Veterans. However, as professionals who deeply engage in this work each day, we are aware that gaps remain in the continuum of care provided to Veterans. One such gap is in the transition from clinic to home-based care. Many service members and Veterans receive intensive therapy, including creative arts therapy, following an injury or illness and then return to their own corners of the world, which are disproportionately rural and isolated.
The Mission of Theater: The Contract of Showtime
There are basic contracts theater makers enter with each other when they start a project. These unwritten rules govern the creation of a piece of theater. We understand that what is shared at a performance is only between those who are there, and although the performance disappears forever once the lights are dimmed, what was shared remains and is carried by the audience. For the veterans who tell their stories through theater, their burdens can become a little lighter, a little more bearable—and that can make the pain of telling worthwhile.
Maine’s Statewide Census in Arts Education
An amazing collaboration in the state of Maine occurred when the Maine Arts Commission enlisted Noel Paul Stookey (the famed singer-songwriter) of Peter, Paul, and Mary to champion the statewide arts education census. The year-long effort achieved a stunning 95% response rate—making it the highest voluntary response rate on record nationally for a survey of this type. Responding principals noted that an important outcome of the census would be to advocate for assessment polices for arts education in order to gather Maine-centric, rather than national, data points that demonstrate the impact of arts education on student performance.
From Distress to De-Stress: The Power of Visioning and Rehearsing Healthy Behavior through Theatre
I build bridges for a living. By asking good questions or offering a juicy creative prompt, I point to a potential link between two seemingly disparate ideas: arts and health. I then have the privilege of bearing witness to the flood of ideas, possibilities, solutions, and truths that flow freely when the bridge is built. This year’s “bridge”? Why do we have stress as human beings? How does stress, and constructive or destructive ways of coping, impact our health? Are there any positive gains from stress, if properly expressed and harnessed?
Tell Me a Story
As artists, our mission is to encourage expression. The stories being told may not, on the surface, relate to what is happening in the hospital room or in a patient’s life. The stories might include symbols, similar to symbols that come to us in dreams. As artists, we must treat these stories with appreciation and care. Our task is to encourage and support, rather than to analyze and judge. Storytelling teaches children to create a personal and symbolic mythology as they embark on a healthcare journey.
Out The Damn Window: One Patient’s View from Inside a Cancer Hospital
During one hospital visit, Dylan mentioned that he had always wanted to film the beautiful view from UF Health’s adult oncology unit on the eighth floor. He asked me if I would like to collaborate on it. At first, I almost said no. Then, I reconsidered, since I had little else to occupy my time. Over the course of several weeks, I captured footage from five different hospital stays. Some days, I would get frustrated while struggling to set up the tripod and getting the white balance right. But, at least I was frustrated about something besides my chemo for an hour.
Five Views of the Healing Power of the Arts
This week, Americans for the Arts is sharing the diverse arts and health experiences of five Assistant Scholars and Lecturers at the UF Center for Arts in Medicine in Gainesville. You will read of the joint experience of both patient and artist, the benefits of storytelling among children engaged in a journey of treatment, and the challenge of shaping healthy lifestyles among teenagers with theater, as well as two stories of the arts and healing for Veterans.
Artists + Mini-Golf + Baseball = Successful Arts/Business Partnership
In Nashville, baseball season just opened at First Tennessee Park, home of the Nashville Sounds. But baseball won’t be the only attraction at the park. The stadium is also home to a one-of-a-kind mini golf course that was designed entirely by artists. “Going to a gallery or museum can be intimidating especially for those that haven’t grown up with access to great art. This project was a great way to provide that access for people to experience outside of those parameters in their daily life.”
Sometimes the Budget Pie is Big Enough for Everyone
It’s the late 70s and I’m standing in the rotunda of the Massachusetts State House with a 10-foot-wide Boston cream pie. A pencil-thin line of white frosting drawn from the center outward like the minute hand of a watch is punctuated by a tall cardboard flag that says, “A piece of the pie for the arts.” This might get us some curious onlookers, maybe some pictures, I think. But before I know it, every elected official and staff member in the entire statehouse is drawn to the spectacle and descends into the rotunda not only to view it, but to get a piece. My fellow advocates and I served a lot of pie that day … and we also got an increase to our arts budget.