Arts in health is an integral component to health and wellbeing.


To serve and advance the field of arts in health.


As the National Organization for Arts in Health, NOAH provides transformational leadership to bring the field of arts in health together, and to move the field forward. Our focus is on the future of arts, health, and wellbeing; and creating tangible impact from our goals and initiatives.  We know through research and experience that the arts are an integral component to health, and we are committed to shaping a reality where that fact is accepted fully, and incorporated into medical treatment, medical education, prevention, and public health and wellbeing.

The Field of Arts in Health in the US: History Highlights

NOAH (The National Organization for Arts and Health) was founded in 2016 but its roots go back to 1989 with the first convocation of arts administrators in Durham, North Carolina. This group was founded as the Society of Healthcare Arts Administrators, which later became the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, then the Global Alliance for Arts in Health, then finally the Arts and Health Alliance before disbanding in 2014. The Alliance was both a service and membership organization open to anyone interested in arts and health. Its first mission statement, adopted in 1990, was “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 mission remained essentially the same over the first 10 years and membership has been international since the Society’s founding. Early benefits to members included annual conferences, training, access to news and resources, and a research database.

NOAH’s History


  • NOAH’s website is launched
  • NOAH begins offering memberships


  • Fall 2016: a designer was selected for NOAH’s website. A second in-person strategic planning session was held in Sandusky, Ohio. The board confirmed a partnership with the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo for its first conference offerings scheduled for September 18-20, 2017 in Austin, Texas.
  • Summer 2016: incorporation process begins
  • June: NOAH board’s first in-person strategic planning session held at Lesley University in Boston. Board officers were elected:
    Todd Frazier, President
    Claire de Boer, Vice President
    Naj Wikoff, Vice President
    Barbara Steinhaus, Secretary
    Annette Ridenour, Treasurer

    Katie White Swanson was confirmed as the organization’s Administrator and sole part-time employee.

  • February: NOAH’s first board of 11 members was announced to the field. Board members began meeting and developing priorities for the new organization.


  • April, Houston, Texas: Symposium of arts in health field leaders met at Texas Children’s hospital to discuss the new gap in resources and the need for a new arts in health professional organization. A steering committee was formed and funds were donated towards founding expenses. University of Oregon donated hours of Katie White Swanson’s time as a researcher towards NOAH founding administrative needs.
  • Communications with some in the field were reestablished. A call for board members was placed. An outside selection committee of arts in health field leaders was formed to evaluate applications and select the new board.

The History of the Former Arts in Health Field Organizations


  • Disbanded under the name Arts & Health Alliance
  • Conference (April 9-12): “Enhancing Lives through Arts & Health, 25th Anniversary Conference and Celebration. Hosted by Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, Texas.


  • Conference (April 11-13): “Healing Communities through the Arts”. Took place at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.


  • Conference (May 2-5): “Arts and Health: A Global View” hosted by Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan.


  • Conference (April 13-16): “Advancing Patient-Centered Arts,” hosted by the International Medical Services and Guest Services, Stanford Hospital & Clinics, Palo Alto, CA.


  • Conference: University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics
    Ambassadors Program.


  • Conference: University of Buffalo.
  • “Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice,” Volume 1, Issue 1, March 2009 published.
  • Bylaws revised.


  • Conference Philadelphia (April 16-19): “Embracing Our Past, Shaping Our Future: 21st Century Innovations,” hosted by the Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.


  • Conference (April 11-14): “A Composition in Creativity and Caring,” hosted by Cultural Enrichment, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.


  • Conference: Chicago, IL.


  • Conference: Edmonton, Canada


  • Conference (April 20-23): “Building Community, Embracing Diversity: the State of the Arts in Healthcare,” hosted by Smith Farm Center for the Healing Arts, Washington, DC.
  • Conference event — Congressional Arts Caucus: The Arts in Healthcare “Cultures of Care: A Study of Arts Programs in U.S. Hospitals,” monograph published by Americans for the Arts.


  • Conference (April 9-12): “Inspiring a New Tomorrow,” hosted by Aesthetics, Inc., and San Diego Children’s Hospital and Scripps Health, San Diego, CA.
  • Publication of “Caring for Caregivers: A Grassroots USA-Japan Initiative”
  • NEA/SAH Leadership Conference (March 18-20, 2003); funded by the NEA.


  • Conference (April 18-20): “Prescriptive Arts in Medicine: The Practice of Arts in Healthcare” hosted by Arts in Medicine, Shands Hospital, Gainesville, FL.
  • “Diabetes and the Arts and Humanities: Planning Conference” (1/23-25) funded by the Office of Research Review, Education and Policy, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HHS)) held in Durham, NC, co-hosted by the Veterans Affairs Education Center, Durham, NC.
  • SAH Caring for Caregivers (CFC) Research and Exchange Program with Society for Arts and Healthcare Japan.


  • Conference hosted by the Art Program, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Janice Palmer Award initiated.
  • Johnson & Johnson/SAH partnership to promote Arts and Healing grant program initiated.
  • Blair L. Sadler International Healing Arts Competition initiated SAHCS program evaluation.
  • SAH Caring for Caregivers (CFC) Research and Exchange Program with Society for Arts and Healthcare Japan, multi-year program funded by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.
  • SAH website renovated and expanded.


  • Conference (4/27-29): hosted by The Arts at Lifespan and Child Life Services, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Providence, RI. “Visions Toward Wellness” exhibit at the Dryden Gallery, Providence, RI in conjunction with the conference.
  • Policy and Procedures Manual created.
  • “Healing Gardens” videotape marketed.
  • Suzy Brenner hired as SAH Management Coordinator


  • Conference (4/23-25): hosted by Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, MI.
  • “Healing Garden Quilts” touring exhibit launched.
  • SAH VP Ellen Hiltebrand moved to coordinator’s position.
  • SAH/NEA Leadership Initiative project (SAH Consulting Service — SAHCS) grant program launched.


  • Conference hosted by the Art for Healing Program, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA.
  • Board retreat.


  • No conference — changed from fall to spring conference schedule.
  • Creation of the first website.


  • Conference (9/26-28): “The Arts: Partners for Health,” hosted by the Cultural Services Program, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Scholarship program initiated. Proceedings published.


  • Conference (9/28-30): “Matters of the Heart,” hosted by Art for TMH, Trumbull Memorial Hospital, Warren, OH. “The Arts in Healing” exhibit at the Butler Institute of American Arts, Youngstown, OH, in conjunction with the conference. Catalog published.
  • First connection with Michael Bzdak at Johnson & Johnson.


  • Conference (October 7-8): “Art: Expanding the Focus of Healthcare,” hosted the Humanities Program, Marin General Hospital, Greenbrae, CA. Organization name changed to “Society for Arts in Healthcare” — SAH. Conference Management Associates contracted to manage SAH.
  • First SAH nationwide touring art exhibition launched – replicas of Hollis Sigler’s “Breast Cancer Journal: Walking with the Ghosts of My Grandmothers”.
  • Invited presentation about SAH at the National Symposium on Healthcare. Design (NYC).
  • Invited to present at the National Association of Local Arts Agencies (Ft. Worth, TX).


  • Conference (September 29–October 2): “The Healing Arts: Matters of Life and Death,” hosted by SHAA board members, Sturbridge, MA.
  • Conference Management Associates contracted to manage the conference.
  • Incorporation and 501(c)(3) applications initiated.
  • Second Newsletter.


  • Conference (October 22–25), hosted by the Planetree Program, MidColumbia Medical Center, The Dalles, Oregon.
  • Arts and Healing Information Clearing House database created.
  • Revised mission statement drafted.


  • First conference (July 11-14), hosted by Project Art, University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, Iowa City, IO. Bylaws adopted; incorporation draft accepted; first board and officers elected; categories of membership and committee structure established.
  • First issue of the newsletter.
  • Revised mission statement drafted.
  • Changed acronym to SHAA.
  • Board met at NIH in November.


  • Second convocation (April 26-29), hosted by Gifts of Art, University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI. Plans made to establish an organization.
  • Agreed to name the organization “Society of Healthcare Arts Administrators” – SoHAA.
  • Mission statement drafted.


  • First convocation (March 11-13), hosted by the Cultural Services Program, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Proposal to establish an organization.