What’s the REAL purpose of an arts program in healthcare?

Halloween Week to those living in the States!



I was on a forum dedicated to integrating creativity and the arts in healthcare about a week ago.  Someone inquired about research on the type of visual art suitable and appropriate for healthcare settings.  To sum up the responses that developed from that simple inquiry, it made me think about the importance of developing a vision statement and the need to periodically re-evaluate the REAL purpose of arts programs in hospitals and medical centers.

All too often, the vision and purpose of why a program was initiated in the first pquestion_mark4lace gets lost…to hidden motives, change in leadership, securing one’s position, time, etc.  The arts are especially vulnerable to becoming snobbish, hoighty-toighty, and intimidating.  This attitude and ‘air’ actually scares people from really enjoying and embracing art.  You can see this going on when you visit some art galleries – people talking in hushed tones, tip-toeing around, staff with attitudes — don’t let arts in healthcare programs, especially healthcare galleries, get to this level.  Now, not all art galleries are like this…there are some that are very welcoming and friendly.  Art should inspire and move you, make you question, reflect, think and ponder – not intimidate you.

question-mark61The purpose of arts programs can range from simple to comprehensive. From having a small gallery that rotates its’ exhibits or keeps it static to a full-blown fully integrated arts program, one that is part of the mission statement of the hospital system.  An arts program that offers art-making at the bedside; rotating exhibits of patients, families and heathcare staff’s artwork which can include paintings, poetry, sculpture, ceramics, handcrafted works, transformed books, etc.; musicians playing on patient units, the main lobby, cafeteria, diagnostic areas, on the campus; comedians; dance performers; readers (people reading to patients); storytellers…

If the real purpose is to have a simple gallery, then fine, then that’s the real purpose and nothing more.  By simply remembering the what’s, why’s and who’s of the arts program, the real purpose of the program will remain intact.  Why was the program started?  Whom does the arts program really beneft?  What is the real purpose/goal of the arts program?  Is the arts program attuned to the population it serves and the larger community?

(Rumi quote)

For next week’s post, I want to talk and explain the differences between creativity and the broad category of ‘the arts.’

2 responses to “What’s the REAL purpose of an arts program in healthcare?

  1. I used to too…but it’s different now. Perhaps the arts need to be ‘humanized.’

  2. “The arts are especially vulnerable to becoming snobbish, hoighty-toighty, and intimidating. This attitude and ‘air’ actually scares people from really enjoying and embracing art. ”

    True… That is how I used to think of arts too. 🙂

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