LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
September 30th, 2019
Dear NOAH members,
I am delighted and honored to serve as president of NOAH for the next two years. Together with the board, our staff and all of you, we have lots of work ahead. And as a longtime endurance athlete, I come to you with well-practiced perseverance and pacing, both of which I believe will support my efforts for you!
I am deeply thankful to Todd Frazier for his leadership and to every founding board member for the diligent work, focused presence and passionate dedication over the past three years that have brought NOAH to the promising state we are today. Thank you also to Katie, Aly, Danielle and Sarah for the invaluable support that you have provided for all of us.
On arriving at this point, I have found myself reflecting on why I care so much about this work, and I would like to share my thoughts with you.
My journey to the field of arts in health was serendipitous, circuitous and in some ways ironic. Over the course of this journey, the arts have become integrated to my personal life for my own well-being. I believe that the power of the arts lies in their ability to enrich my human experience by eliciting reflection, emotion and creativity. Carefully regarding a painting connects me to deep thoughts about my life. Listening to inspiring music brings me all-encompassing joy, especially when I am in community. And learning to create a clay sculpture reminds me of flexibility in problem solving. Each result is related to my health and wellbeing and yet there is seldom one clear feeling or result: I float between curiosity, uncertainty, connectedness and satisfaction. These in-between areas of life are where I find myself when I am receiving healthcare, and perhaps where my healthcare providers find themselves when they provide it. I have learned that although I cherish the integration of the arts to my own wellness, I absolutely thrive on witnessing its magic on others. There is an invaluable space for art in our communal health and well-being, and I feel committed to making that space available to everyone.
I strongly believe that we are on course to bring general acceptance to the notion that the arts are integral to health and wellbeing. Several decades ago, exercise was mostly for athletes. Someone jogging in the road was a nut. And then, over the years, research showed that actually exercise was good for all of us, regardless of our skill level. We learned that there are many forms of exercise that bring us the benefits – we just need to choose forms that we like. Today, everyone exercises or if we don’t, we know we should, because we know it contributes to our health. I am convinced that the same will happen or is happening with art. As we conduct and publish research that gets attention in medical and hospital journals, art engagement will become generally accepted as an invaluable path toward health and wellbeing. People will choose art modalities that resonate with them. They will know that they benefit regardless of their skill level. And when we visit our primary care physician, and she asks “how often do you exercise?” she will add “how often do you engage in art?”
So… it is our great task as arts in health members of the field to contribute toward this visit, and collaboration is paramount. Artists, creative art therapists arts managers, healthcare providers, researchers, scientists and funders: everyone has a seat at this table, and it would be incomplete without you.
NOAH strives to offer a setting to unite all of these professions so that, together, we will improve health care for all through the power of the arts. I bring to you my best self as I take a turn at the helm.
With warmest wishes,
NOAH Goals 2020
- Develop a NOAH volunteer system for members to support our efforts and find sustainability in the workload for board members
- Hold the 4th annual national NOAH conference in Long Beach, CA
- Encourage the formation and growth of regional NOAH networks around the country, including communication, program share and symposium support
- Hold 2nd Leadership Summit January 2020 with theme of addressing how the arts can address healthcare provider burnout, build a research community to better investigate the impact of the arts on health and well-being, and develop a sustainable infrastructure for artists to become trained and employed as professional artists in health
- Write and publish the NOAH Artists/Arts Administrators in Health Core Curriculum
- Develop and distribute a report on the level and character of support for arts in health by State Arts Agencies and, working with NACCATA, NALAA, AFTA, develop a set of priorities for enhancing thereto
- Serve as a Partner Agency with AFTA in Arts Advocacy Day 2020 in Washington, DC
- Initiate a national survey of Arts in Health with AFTA
- Develop a strategic plan for research that complements the great efforts taking place nationwide.
- Continue Research Lab webinars
- Contract with a testing company to create certification exam
- Develop a NOAH volunteer system for members to support our efforts and find sustainability in the workload for board members
- Identify a new board member with expertise in Development
- Increase ethnic diversity of our board, especially that which represents marginalized populations
- Develop a consistent process of orientation for new board members
- Continue NOAH’s priority of a sustainable and transparent business model
Previous Letters from the President
July 12, 2018
Dear NOAH Members and Friends of Arts in Health,
The decision I am most proud of NOAH for making, at its first board retreat in June of 2016, was to look to the field for guidance and to inform priorities. We spent our first year conducting surveys and focus groups, while celebrating and advocating for the field. We then commissioned the white paper “Arts, Health and Well-Being in America”, released in September 2017 to serve as a grounding on where we are in America and where we need to focus our energy. We’ve used our annual conference, first in September 2017 and coming up in October 2018, as a major focal point for projects to be reported, publications to be released, programs to be profiled and shared, and to “serve and advance the field” with our membership. The concluding recommendations from the white paper have dictated our work and include:
- Creation of a New National Structure and Strategy for the Arts, Health, and Well-Being Arena to Coalesce:
To realize this recommendation, we are organizing a Leadership Summit, bringing together professionals in human resources, nursing, patient experience, philanthropy, community health, public policy, and research, among other disciplines. Together we will explore challenges and priorities healthcare facilities and communities face and how the arts can be used to enhance health and wellbeing. Our diverse group of stakeholders, representing the broad and diverse leadership charged with making decisions to influence the future of healthcare in America, will review the recommendations contained in the NOAH white paper, identify the strategic next steps we can take to improve accessibility and outcomes across related fields, and draft a strategic plan that can guide the field over the next three to five years.
NOAH Board Vice-Chair Naj Wikoff is leading this effort, which has successfully raised the required funds via support from The Westreich Foundation, Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine, and Kaiser Permanente, and secured a presenting partner in Georgetown University and the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. The discussion will be facilitated by Janet Brown, former President & CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. Gay Hanna will document the meeting and author a white paper report to be ready for release and discussion during our conference in October.
- Development of a Meta-Analysis of Existing Research, Programs, and Resources:
This is something NOAH and NOAH’s Research Committee, headed by NOAN Board Member Ferol Carytsas, have dedicated much quality time and effort. We are learning from institutions who have made research a priority, investigating how research journals, libraries, universities, and hospitals facilitate research information, and exploring what institutions have already developed databases, how they work, and how they might be effectively shared. We’ve heard exciting developments from a comprehensive interagency arts in health initiative in Rhode Island which has brought together representatives from their state health agencies, universities, and arts council, to address the impact of the arts on statewide health priorities. We are excited to have them presenting this wonderful model of collaboration and their database of research at our conference in October.
We continue to work on building both open and member-exclusive resources on our NOAH website, and are actively building partnerships that will provide our members and the field a centralized introduction to research, how to utilize, interpret and conduct research, and how to identify where gaps in research exist for the field of Arts in Health. We are happy that Dr. Francois Bethoux, The Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Arts and Medicine Institute, is taking a leadership role in the descriptive text and recommendations. We are also pleased there will be sessions on research prominently featured at the October conference.
- Formation of National Standards, Training, and Certification of Professional Artists, Healthcare Arts Administrators and Healthcare Arts Consultants:
This is a very important area. Right now, most hospitals create their own policies, or rely on policies not specifically designed for arts in health, to manage artists working in environments of care. We are creating a comprehensive policy where I work at Houston Methodist that is being developed in collaboration with our team of music therapists, project specialists in music and visual arts and executive leadership. For the most part, artists in our system contribute in community areas of the hospitals, although we’re developing more and more structured ways for artists to coordinate with music therapists to leverage results, like a recent residency with the Houston Grand Opera in the Psychiatric Clinic with Music Therapists Audry Zybura and Jennifer Townsend, and expanding our community reintegration opportunities for patients of the in-patient rehabilitation clinic with the Ermelinda Cuellar jazz trio and music therapist Jonathan Silbert – attached find a link to a Houston Grand Opera Video made after the residency experience and an image of a recent session with artists and therapists in a public area of the hospital. BUT, I can only speak for how this particular hospital addresses the work of artists in environments of care, and am glad that NOAH is working on coordinating national standards and endorsing further professionalization that all administrators can refer to and feel confident in.
NOAH is looking at what has been done by the previous task forces of the representative national organization, going back to the Society for Arts in Health, and putting dedicated time into fully developing and endorsing a set of professional standards of practice and code of ethics for artists working in health settings. I believe we have done wonderful work in this area through NOAH and NOAH’s Professionalization Committee, headed by NOAH Board Member Ari Albright. NOAH members and representatives of the field will review these items first through a survey in July, so that they can share thoughts and opinions with us before we move to finalize and publish for release at the October Conference.
As an extension to the third recommendation, we are pleased to also be working with a group of experts around the nation and the University of Oregon on an Arts in Healthcare Administrators Handbook, which will be the focus of one of our preconference sessions on October 7. The conference will also be the launch for the handbook as a whole, which will be a significant tool for the development, professionalization, coordination, and management of arts in health programs. It will offer an update to the 2009 SAH handbook and exist as a living document on the NOAH website. Information in that handbook will also be valuable in contributing to further professionalization efforts planned for artists and administrators working in healthcare.
Finally, in our continued effort “to serve and advance the field of arts in health,” we have established a Regional Network Committee. The first committee meeting was held at the end of June, and I am happy to report that the meeting was attended by representatives of 11 different states. Three groups were chosen to pilot regional networks, which will begin first by conducting regional needs assessments. NOAH is exploring how best to help foster these networks by examining a variety of national network models in and out of the arts. There will be an “ask the expert” and a “breakfast roundtable” session at the conference and NOAH will be reporting regional network progress on its website. This effort is being led by NOAH Board member Dr. Alan Siegel.
Speaking of the NOAH website, we have a new membership platform that allows members to update their profile, add photos, search a national map and directory for other programs, send NOAH their good news and job opportunities, and add events to the national arts in health event calendar.
I hope that you are pleased with NOAH’s progress and the increasing value of NOAH membership, which includes receipt of our regular newsletter, progress reports such as this letter, and much more listed at thenoah.net/membership. I look forward to speaking with you personally at our annual conference in October, which will include our first formal business meeting for NOAH members, and for the latest information on NOAH, sponsorship opportunities, and becoming a member, please visit thenoah.net or send an email to Katie White-Swanson at email@example.com.
Director, System Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM)
President, National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH)
Houston Grand Opera Video: Seeking the Human Spirit Music Therapy Residency: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39-FDu5IJ-w
Friends and Colleagues of Arts in Health,
It is with great enthusiasm that I join a highly experienced and professionally diverse Board of Directors in helping create the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH). The organization’s mission is to “serve and advance the field of Arts in Health” in America while envisioning a future where “Arts in Health is an integral part of health and wellbeing”.
The NOAH Board takes great pride and strength in remembering and celebrating the past 25+ years of sequential national service beginning with the Society of Healthcare Arts Administrators, leading to the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, and most recently, the Arts in Health Alliance. I join the Board in offering the friends, members and leaders of these organizations our sincere appreciation for supporting and driving initiatives that have defined the way the arts are contributing to the healthcare environment, patient experience, and health of communities today. NOAH recognizes this work at a critical time for the field and, in the eloquent words of Thomas Jefferson, embraces your collective “guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.”
In 2016, I had the rare opportunity to participate in a wide variety of conferences and events in the field of Art in Health around the nation, including the International Mobil Brain-Body Imaging and Neuroscience of Art, Innovation and Creativity, Chamber Music America, Arts to Research Universities (A2RU), Mayo Clinic Humanities, Organization for Human Brain Mapping, World Stroke Congress, Performing Arts Medicine Association, Golandsky Institute, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Exploring the Mind through Music at Rice University, American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), the Kennedy Center Arts Summit chaired by Yo-Yo Ma and Renee Fleming, and Houston Arts Partners Conferences, and have visited in focus groups on Arts in Health with a variety of organizations including the Eastman School of Music, Texas Tech University, A2RU, University of Texas, and accompanying the NOAH board, with the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Metro Health, Boston Arts Consortium for Health, Americans for the Arts and AMTA. These experiences, paired with the experiences of my NOAH Board member colleagues, which multiply the number of 2016 engagement points with the field exponentially, have confirmed to me that the field of Arts in Health is experiencing a renaissance, both in America and around the globe. More and more, people and institutions, and not only health care or health related institutions, are turning to the arts as a bridge to transcend boundaries, illuminate ideas, to discover, and explore more effective ways to live with, inspire, heal and care for each other.
I also found that many centers, schools or efforts in Arts in Health across the nation are actively seeking paths for growth, ways to overcome challenges, and are eager for communication with, and support and guidance from, a representative national organization. Even the larger centers with a greater level of institutional support, such as the one I work for, feel a need to leverage their work with others to help craft a broader more meaningful message, identify effective language that will communicate value across disciplines and industries, and an opportunity to share results, processes and benefits to the field through collective strength.
NOAH was formed to serve these needs and is currently communicating with and listening to the field through active participation in conferences, focus groups, regular board and committee meetings, individual field communications, review of existing programs and research, and our NOAH field survey (please fill out the field survey on the home page). We are actively considering collective solutions to a variety of the most important challenges communicated by the field, engaging in healthy, open and transparent dialogue and processes, adopting new approaches and technologies, all while remembering the basic thing that brings us all together, the thing we are passionately committed to, and agree upon as a common denominator – the potential of the arts to serve our fellow man in challenging times of life.
Furthermore, what we all know is that the various approaches, or entry points, to the Arts in Health, when administered effectively and purposefully coordinated, work beautifully in collaboration with each other, in synchrony amongst disciplines, while offering improved clinical, experiential, and holistic results. I think that is why the phrase “connecting, uniting and elevating” the field keeps coming up in NOAH discussions, as we review the individual progress being made, from the smallest to largest programs across the country.
The science and data in support of Arts in Health is there, and proves benefits from economic data, to the patient experience, from demonstrating brain plasticity, to the aesthetic environments impact on the patient and caregiver journey. We are showing this every day through our individual programs, but only collectively can we create an identity and a voice that leads to a future where “the Arts in Health is an integral part of health and wellbeing”. I hope we can count on you to join us in making this future a reality.
J. Todd Frazier
Director, Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital System;
President, National Organization for Arts in Health