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