“The country is so wounded, bleeding, and hurt right now. The country needs to be healed—it's not going to be healed from the top, politically. How are we going to heal? Art is the healing force.” Robert Redford, National Arts Policy Roundtable 2012

Arts in health, healing, and wellness is a growing policy imperative and national need that is driven by several factors. In the United States, there is an aging population requiring significant long-term healthcare solutions coupled with unprecedented number of service members returning home with severe physical and psychological injuries. The Affordable Care Act is currently inspiring public debate in these areas. The end goal of incorporating the arts into health and healthcare is to provide quality, cost-effective services that achieve positive outcomes for patients, families, and caregivers. [Taken from Americans for the Arts 2012 Legislative Issue Brief: Arts in Health—Strengthening our Nation’s Health through the Arts.]

Art forms that can be combined with healthcare include dance/movement, drama, music, visual, literary arts, performing arts, and design. No matter what the art form, research confirms that the arts enhance coping, thereby reducing patients’ need for hospital care, pain medication, and unnecessary extra costs. In addition, the arts reduce patients’ level of depression and situational anxiety, contribute to patient satisfaction, and improve the medical providers’ recruitment and retention rates.

Creative arts practitioners work in diverse settings across a wide spectrum of populations. Settings include, but are not limited to: private for-profit and nonprofit health facilities, hospice programs, long-term care facilities, mental health programs, schools, rehabilitation treatment centers, special needs camps, disaster response teams, psychiatric forensic units, veterans’ facilities, prisons, community centers, wellness programs, and military bases.

Current federal programs recognize the benefits of these services, as is clear with the Older Americans Act and various research that has been done by the Department of Health and Human Services. However, there is still a need to expand research opportunities and program funding so that more Americans can access these cost-effective services. Creative arts in healthcare interventions have the potential to address concerns on healthcare spending and the quality of medical care that are currently facing our nation. An investment in arts in health is an investment in America’s health.


What does the research say?

Research demonstrates that creative arts in healthcare interventions can contribute to the following positive outcomes when services are integrated into medical treatment and community prevention and wellness programs:

-Reduced lengths of hospital stays
-Decreased need for multiple medical visits
-Reduced reports of pain and anxiety related to illness and invasive treatment
-Increased self-esteem and reductions in stress
-Reduced healthcare-related infection rates
-Decreased need for use of sedatives during medical procedures
-Reduced levels of depression and improvements in quality of life
-Decreased use of medical interventions covered by Medicare among the aging
[Taken from the 2013 Legislative Issue Brief: Arts in Health—Strengthening our Nation’s Health through the Arts]

Americans for the Arts' Related Projects and Research

National Arts Policy Roundtable 2013—Arts and Healing: Body, Mind, & Community

Arts & Health in the Military Americans for the Arts is the co-lead of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military. To learn more about this important initiative, please visit our dedicated page.

Aspen Seminar 2013 – The Arts and Military: A Strategic Partnership

Animating Democracy Trend Paper Art in Service: Supporting the Military Community and Changing the Public Narrative by Maranatha Bivens
Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced a wave of returning veterans suffering from both physical and emotional traumas as well as families, communities, and a society in need of ways to understand, adjust, and heal. Writer and “former military kid” Maranatha Bivens characterizes ways that art is raising awareness of the issues facing service members, bridging gaps in knowledge and communication between veterans and civilians, and offering veterans paths to healing and reintegration in family and community life.

Arts & Military Blog Salon on ArtsBlog Read about the important arts & military initiative from a wide of variety of perspectives on ARTSblog.

Research Resources

Arts & Healing Network
The Arts and Healing Network is an online resource for people interested in the healing potential of art. Projects profiled range from creative projects in hospitals to artists raising awareness about environmental issues to projects that strengthen and revitalize a sense of connectedness between people. Inspiration provides resources to learn more about the field of art and healing. Artist Support provides information about funding sources and career advice for artists. Connection Center encourages communication through Facebook and Twitter.


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