Arts For Life brings creative joy to pediatric patients in North Carolina

Arts For Life puts creativity, discovery, and joy into the hands and hearts of children who need it the very most.

Every day across North Carolina, the Arts For Life teams of staff members, volunteers, interns, and teaching fellows brighten the lives and healthcare experiences

of children and families facing serious illnesses and disabilities. By bringing visual art, music, and creative writing programs into hospitals and clinics, they help children and teens remember that they’re not just patients: they’re artists, musicians, and poets, with a world of possibility at their fingertips.

Arts For Life is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing arts in health programs to transform healthcare experiences for pediatric patients and their families. Arts For Life currently serves four communities in North Carolina, including Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville, and Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.


Submitted By: Sarah Ness
Organization: Arts For Life

Storytellers to the Rescue

As storytellers at Rady Children’s Hospital- San Diego, we might be called in when a child is having a difficult time getting an IV inserted, having a dressing changed, or dealing with something that is upsetting. There are times we are told that the patient could use the opportunity to take a story break.

One afternoon, as we entered the outpatient clinic where children were receiving chemotherapy, we heard a young girl crying, “No, it hurts!” A nurse slipped out of the treatment area to alert us that this girl needed to have a procedure done on an embedded port in her chest. There was a problem that meant she could not get her essential medication, but because the girl was so upset and so tense, they couldn’t do it. We tried a couple of magic tricks, which she liked, but it was still too much. Her mom finally suggested they take a break and let the girl run around outside. She asked if we could come along. We all went out to one of the Healing Gardens right outside the clinic. There, for the next 20 minutes, we created a rousing story which included running back and forth between a rowboat sculpture, and a giant bird sculpture. Two other boys who were waiting joined in and the story unfolded. By the time we brought it to a satisfying conclusion, everyone was laughing and wiggling around. The whole energy had changed. The grateful mother took her daughter by the hand and said, “Just what we needed. We can go back in ready to get this done. I really appreciate your being here for my daughter today.” And when we checked back later, all was well. These are times we refer to as “Storytellers to the Rescue.”

Another girl in her hospital room was in excruciating abdominal pain, waiting for her pain medication to take effect. Her nurse, after trying everything she could think of, asked, “Would you like to hear a story while you wait? I just saw the storytellers down the hall.” When the girl agreed, the nurse found us and quickly explained the situation. After introducing us, you could almost see the nurse crossing her fingers that this would help. The teen asked, “Do you know any pirate stories? I love pirates!” Did we ever! Over the next 25 minutes, we spun tales of pirates on the high seas, and she laughed and gasped, and finally clapped her hands when the brave woman pirate saved the day. As we were leaving she said, “I don’t know how I would have made it through that time, but I got to ‘take a break from it all,’ almost like a mini-vacation. I feel a lot better now and think I am ready to take a nap.” The grateful nurse gave us a ‘thumbs up’ as we walked away to our next patient.


(Note, patient information has been changed to protect their privacy and identity)

Patti Christensen and James Nelson-Lucas are part of The Healing Arts Program at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. This program consists of eight professional artists who are on staff and bring the arts to children. Patti and James have been performing together for 18 years as The Patchwork Players Story Theatre. They have brought stories to life for audiences of all ages, performing at schools, hospitals, libraries, senior centers, family literacy programs and museums throughout Southern California. They use improvisation and audience participation, costumes and props to create engaging experiences. In their work at Rady Children’s Hospital, they also use and teach magic tricks to delight children and help them heal. Patti is a clinical social worker and therapist, and James is an organizer of the Vista Viking Festival.

Arts for Healing Connects Grieving Families and the Hospital Community

Each year, the Evening of Remembrance event at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven, CT creates a nurturing space for families grieving the loss of their child. Families come together to share memories and reconnect with caregivers through a variety of expressive art activities. Participants at the Heartstrings Chorus table were co-creating a song with music therapists, Shannon Kiley and Judy Engel, from the Arts for Healing Program. The song was to be played during the service, just before the infants and children who had passed away in the last year were to be honored by the reading of their names.

Shannon had been collecting the voices and heartbeats of staff members for weeks, creating the foundations of the Heartstrings Chorus recording. From the start of the event families approached the table in a nearly steady stream.

Often through tears, family members took turns sitting in the “recording booth” at the table and speaking into the microphone. Their voices layered one on top of the other in a chorus of loving sentiment. “Love will always connect us.” “El amor siempre nos conectará.” “L’amour nous connectera toujours.” “We love you!”

Simultaneously, Judy assisted other family members to record their heartbeats through a stethoscope. Each heartbeat, stacking one after the other in the computer, creating a dynamic breathing rhythm. The gentle sounds of the piano connected the heartbeats and voices into a cohesive musical piece. Many families had a poignant connection to heartbeat recordings, as they had previously received a legacy recording of their child’s heartbeat during their last days in the hospital.

Later, as we sat in the service and listened to the result of this community soundscape of voices and heartbeats from staff and families, a palpable bond emerged from the grief that had brought us all together that night. “Love will always connect us.”

Visceral: transforming trauma & rebuilding lives though theatre

Visceral is a documentary film about three people who are living with the impact of post-traumatic stress.

They perform musical theatre, dramatic plays and Shakespeare to help transform their mental and physical health. Scheduled for release in 2019, Visceral features the healing work of organizations like the Feast of Crispian and First Aid Arts as well as interviews with experts in neuroscience and trauma-informed expressive arts.

Find out more here!

View the film’s trailer!

Follow Visceral on Facebook

Submitted By:
Amy Erickson
Director: Visceral, transforming trauma & rebuilding lives through theatre

UF CAM logo

UF Center for Arts in Medicine Announces New Lecturer Position

Center for Arts in Medicine
Faculty Position Announcement
Service Learning Lecturer

Position Description: Full-time, twelve month, promotion-accruing faculty position
Date of Expected Hire: August 1, 2019
Salary: Commensurate with qualifications and experience

The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, College of the Arts, invites applications from individuals of all races, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives for one (1) Lecturer position.

The University of Florida College of the Arts intends to be a transformative community, responding to and generating paradigmatic shifts in the arts and beyond. As artists and scholars, we embrace the complexity of our evolving human experience and seek to empower our students and faculty to shape that experience fearlessly through critical study, creative practice, and provocation. We seek a colleague who identifies as a change-maker. We seek a colleague who will prepare students to access and unsettle centers of power in a radically changing world. We seek a colleague who will position emerging artists and researchers as catalysts for equity on local and global levels.

This position is dedicated to increasing health equity by developing avenues that encourage social cohesion among diverse community members as a means of building a healthy community through the arts.  This position is focused on service learning through teaching, mentorship, research and service. This position will function in keeping with the Center’s by-laws and promotion guidelines, in arts in medicine, with an emphasis on community engagement.

Application Deadline: Applications must be submitted via the University of Florida’s online application system at by November 19, 2018. Online applications must include the following: (1) a detailed letter of application that explains how you match the particular qualifications of this position and how your work and perspective will contribute to and enhance our transformative community; (2) a curriculum vitae and (3) names and contact information of three references. The Search Committee may request additional materials at a later time.

Position will remain open until filled.

Inquiries may be sent to:

Tina Mullen

Chair, Lecturer Search


The Impact of a Live Artist in a Chemotherapy Treatment Room

The Impact of a Live Artist in a Chemotherapy Treatment Room
(Click through to view the YouTube video!)

Last Spring a residency grant from The State of Maine Arts Commission allowed for a project in a Chemotherapy Center. With over 130 surveys my team showed, patients were less stressed and nurses less fatigued due to the artist’s presence.

Betsy Parks-Stamm, Erin McGee Ferrell, and Robyn Courtois- Colby pleased to report that our research project sponsored by New England Cancer Specialists, Maine Arts Commission, and Artists and Craftsman Supply Portland is scheduled for publication in the, “Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.”




Meet Miguel, a Student at Snow City Arts

In the summer of 1998, Miguel was just 12 years old. As a patient in the pediatric dialysis unit, he found the long hours of sitting and getting treatment to be lonely and boring.

One day, teaching artist and Snow City Arts’ founder Paul Sznewajs walked into the unit and introduced himself as someone working with kids in the hospital. He engaged with Miguel in a variety of ways, but quickly realized Miguel had a natural talent for drawing. Most of his work, Miguel says, was “skulls and motorcycles,” which often scared people. He would sometimes throw his work away to avoid upsetting anyone.

Paul wasn’t concerned about Miguel’s artistic subjects, but instead saw that Miguel had a passion for this work and wanted to help Miguel develop it. While he was a writer and poet by trade, Paul realized that just a little inspiration in the visual arts would help Miguel tremendously at this difficult time in his life. So began the work of Snow City Arts 20 years ago!

While being a talented artist, Miguel “couldn’t write to save [his] life,” he says. After talking with Paul for a while, he informed Paul he was dyslexic, which obviously contributed to his difficulty with both reading and writing. Paul worked with him and found programs for Miguel geared specifically for people with dyslexia.

As Miguel’s writing developed, Paul made sure to keep feeding Miguel’s passion for drawing and painting. He found a visual artist to work with him and brought him books with the work of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to inspire and inform him about work he would find interesting. Miguel was also very interested in cars at the time and when a medical student heard about this, the student brought him a photo book of grilles and bumpers that Miguel took as stimulus for more drawing.

More than 20 years later, Miguel considers himself an accomplished artist. He paints regularly and his work is often inspired and informed by his kidney disease. His website and Instagram page are filled with his work, and he considers Paul a lifelong mentor, someone he still keeps in touch with to this day. He considers those moments of instruction and encouragement 20 years ago as invaluable to his hospital experience and credits that early educational work as instrumental in getting him through high school and college.

“Dealing with a chronic disease isn’t something you should have to go through yourself,” Miguel says.

He found the experience of talking with someone in the hospital who was not a doctor refreshing and gained confidence through the social-emotional experience of making art in the hospital.

“It’s a great program. It should be at every hospital!” according to Miguel.

So many of SCA’s principles held true today are present in this first relationship: working one-on-one with patients to find out their interests; tailoring a workshop to best meet a student’s needs; and creating more than just a needed distraction, but an enriching educational experience that helps advance a student’s academic career. The work done 20 years ago still happens in hospitals every day!

You can head to Miguel’s website to see more of his work and to see his work on display at our upcoming Visual Arts Exhibition beginning on April 6 at The Arts Incubator at The University of Chicago.

Submitted by NOAH Member: Snow City Arts




Job Opportunity: Arts Administrator / Project Manager

Aesthetics, Inc., a nationally-recognized healthcare design firm, based in San Diego, is seeking a professional Arts Administrator / Project Manager, with a minimum of five years’ experience, or an MFA Degree in Arts in Health, to manage the development of public arts programs for our clients.

Success in this position requires:
1. knowledge of public art processes for mulitmedia art (paintings, photography, sculpture, mosaic, etc.);
2. excellent communication, presentation, project management and writing skills;
3. software competence in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and InDesign (as well as the ability to learn new software);
4. ability to interpret floor plans and elevations;
5. ability to travel for presentations, field work, and installation supervision;
6. excellent people skills;
7. skilled at multi-tasking and extremely well organized.

Job entails: recommendations for art locations, media, size and budget; facilitating committee decisions; art sourcing, project management, contracts, framing standards, procurement and commissioning; curatorial and installation.

Salary based on experience. Competitive benefits – including paid time off, insurance and 401k.

All applications must be submitted via email. Email cover letter and resume to

Tenure-line Faculty Position in Arts, Health, & Wellbeing (open rank)

The University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts invites applications for tenure-line faculty position in Arts, Health, & Well-being from candidates with expertise in the evidence-based application of the arts to promote health and/or well-being through creative arts therapies, expressive arts therapy, arts in health, or arts in public health frameworks.

The College encourages applicants of all races, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to apply.

The successful candidate will be appointed to the department or school that best matches their area of artistic expertise at a rank and salary commensurate with experience. The position will have research, teaching, and service responsibilities appropriate for tenure-line appointments in the home academic unit. In addition, the successful candidate will serve as a leader of the University of Utah’s nascent Arts-in-Health Innovation Lab (, a catalyst of interdisciplinary research, teaching, clinical care, and community engagement at the intersection of the arts and health.

Review of applications will begin October 15, 2018 and continue until the position is filled. Questions may be directed to Search Committee Chair Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell at For a complete description of the position and its requirements or to submit your application, visit (posting number PRN00325CF).

Creative Center Logo NOAH

The Creative Center Training Institute for Artists and Administrators in Healthcare and Creative Aging 2019

Monday, March 18 through Friday, March 22, 2019

This week-long training, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, will focus on the role of the arts in healthcare and creative aging, providing theoretical and didactic approaches to implementing and sustaining high-quality arts programming in a variety of settings serving people living with illness and older adults across the aging spectrum. Artists, as well as arts, nursing home and hospital administrators will be given everything they need to create “best practice” arts programming in community and senior centers, hospital, healthcare, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, along with rehabilitation, palliative and hospice settings. Founded in 1994, The Creative Center at University Settlement has been training artists and administrators from across the US since 2002 to replicate our model in a variety of healthcare settings using the unique training program featured in our book, Artists in Residence: The Creative Center’s Approach to Arts in Healthcare.

Presentations, workshops and site visits, led by national leaders in the field of arts in healthcare and arts in aging, will include:

Getting Old: The Aging Body, Mind and Soul
A New Perspective on Dementia
StoryCorps: Memory Loss Initiative and Legacy Project
Crafting Careers in Arts-in-Healthcare and Creative Aging
Older Professional Artists: A Model for Society
Hospital Artists-In-Residence: The Creative Center’s Approach
Lifetime Arts: Arts Education for Older Adults
Opening Minds Through Art (OMA): an inter-generational program
Arts&Minds: Museum Programming for People Living with Dementia
Arts in Healthcare: The Current “State” of the Field

Fees: $350 per selected trainee. Artists/administrators working in NYC (Su Casa, senior centers, etc.) may apply for the discounted rate of $250. Lunch, supplies and resources are provided. Please note: lodging and transportation to and from NYC not included.

For information, please call 646-465-5313 or

Support for The Creative Center Training Institute for Artists and Administrators in Healthcare and Creative Aging comes from the National Endowment for the Arts and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.